Have you ever wanted to grow deeper in your relationship with Jesus, but you felt like you were in over your head? We go to church. Sometimes we go to other functions. We still feel like there's a missing link. We look around and wonder, "Why do some of these people feel closer to Jesus than me?" It's been on my heart to level the playing field by sharing some of my story.
I am known among friends as the resource gal. So today I want to put some practical words and practices out there to help you on your journey. I hope and pray my words land softly and that they help in some way to get you closer to your Savior! He so wants to know you and be known by you. In Him lies EVERYTHING you need, and I mean everything! I speak from experience so let me tell you a little about my journey and then I will give you the practical side of things.
So I was raised in the church. I went every Sunday with my grandmother and most of the time 2-3 times a week until I was school age. She was an amazing woman with a HUGE servant’s heart. She volunteered and gave her time whenever and wherever she could and took me along for the ride. I remember sitting in the chapel at the altar, staring at the cross thinking "I don’t really get all this but ok, you’re my Lord and Savior. I’ll go with that!"
Our family was not one to sit and discuss deep topics. We tend to keep things surface level and "happy". We don’t do conflict well. We're better than we used to be, but back then we avoided it at all costs. It was more of a "do it because I say so" mentality, rather than "I want to teach you the the why behind it.
I do not say this in condemnation. I wouldn’t trade my childhood for anything. It made me who I am. I love my family deeply with all our scars and hang-ups. They are part of me and I am part of them. I’m just trying to be brutally honest here so you get the picture of my journey. I was raised believing blindly but not truly understanding WHO I believed in.
Fast forward to when my oldest who is now 13, was about 3. I always loved church. I felt a sense of home and a sense of family there, but I wanted more. My pastor put a challenge out to read the Bible in one calendar year. I thought, “Oh this sounds interesting! Really religious people are always saying, ‘Get in the Word! Read your Bible!’ I’ll do that! I’ll get really plugged in with God!” So I read the Bible in a year. And I did get plugged in with God. I remember sitting in my backyard thinking why in the world is He putting up with these Israelites? They keep doing the same thing over and over again! How many times does He have to tell them to obey? Never did I apply these questions to my own life. I was just getting familiar with the story. I was learning to ask questions.
The Lord meets you where you are at and He surely met me where I was there. That was what I needed then. I needed to learn to read the Word and ask questions. He doesn’t care about how you get to Him, just get to Him. He directs the path and the journey. He only needs a willing heart and an open spirit.
I spent the next 5 years going on and off of the path that God had in front of me. I was always plugged into a church home. I felt His presence more at times than others but I never really knew Him. I prayed. I went to church. I even volunteered for the kids programs and told Bible stories, and then the bottom fell out of my life.
My husband died and I had two small boys depending on me. I had no one to depend on. My family was there for me as much as they could be, and my church family stepped in where they could, but those nights get lonely and the house sure is quiet after the kids are asleep. I will not sit here and tell you I got it right a lot of the time. I did the usual self-numbing practices that our human flesh gravitates to. The drinking, the dating, the bars, the food, the late night TV, all the mind numbing agents I could get my hands on. As numb as I felt, I was still in search of something. Numbness didn't fix anything. The fog would lift and I would still want companionship and understanding. The kind of human relationships that are not filling or life-giving, but that put you in a worse spot than before.
Thank God for good friends that don’t even know that they are a part of His puzzle. I had quit teaching and found myself with days to fill while the kids were at school. One day my friend calls and tells me that she is taking me to Bible study. Later that same afternoon, my mom calls and introduces me to another Bible study. I had no idea what I was doing, friends!
When I say that to you, I need you to hear it! I thought I had NO business being in a “Bible study”. I didn’t know all the books of the Bible. I couldn’t even find the book if I had the handy dandy bible tabs that I have grown to know and love so well. But He meets us where we are.
These groups of believers accepted me and taught me. They never once looked down or questioned whether or not I belonged. Sometimes I think the hardest step for young believers is that step over the threshold of a doorway into God’s Word. The enemy throws up all kinds of road-blocks. “What if they notice I know nothing?” “What if they ask me a question or make me answer?” “What if I cry in front of these people?” “What if I let them in and they hurt me, or judge me, or find out what I am really like?”
Sister, let me say this and hear me, we are ALL like that. The Bible is grimy. It even says this!
"We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23
We all have skeletons that the Lord wants to rid us of. When we give Him our pasts and the shame attached to it, we find freedom. We actually get a new life, and He calls us a new creation. (Can you believe that? You've got to!) "Therefore, if you are in Christ, you are a new creation; the old had gone and the new has come." 2 Corinthians 5:17
We are ALL forgiven when we give our sinful nature to Him. God doesn't bring up our old sin that we're not doing anymore. That's not God's character. "As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us."
So I stepped into the world of Bible study because that is what feeds my soul. Then He pushed me into another arena, because that is what He does. I love to say you’re not done till you’re dead. There is always something to learn, some area to grow in, some new character trait to learn about Him. And it's all GOOD. He led me to Bayou City Fellowship, which is a Jesus-centered church. Straight Scripture teaching… Bible study on Sundays. WOOHOO!!!! My kind of place!
He let me sit there for a while until I was comfortable and then He nudged me to stretch a little further into Discipleship. It is a program that is offered at our church for women. We meet once a month for teaching on a piece of Scripture that we meditate on for a month alone and in small groups throughout the month. (Wait what? A month? I thought, okay I’ve read it, but what am I supposed to do now?)
The next month I went back and my sweet friend Cherish suggested going and searching commentaries and web sites like Blue Letter Bible where they have commentaries on-line. Girls, it was like Christmas morning for this Bible study nerd! I have spent the last month buried in it! And I love it but that is my personality, and it may not be yours. That is OK! He meets us where we are at!
I am a bible study nerd now, but I sure wasn’t one 5 years ago. He grows us and teaches us to LOVE His word. The more you read, the more you thirst for more. That may sound like more “Christianese” but I promise you it is TRUTH.
My point to all this is this: No matter what you do or how you get there, get to know Him and His story. Because it is YOUR story!
Here’s the thing…those Israelites? They are me! Why He puts up with my disobedience over and over I will never fully understand but I rest in the fact that He does! That He loves me that much! The good, the bad, and the ugly. That He meets me where I am daily and sometimes hourly, truth be told! My junk is no cleaner than yours and my knowledge has come in a very short time, because I have sought after Him. He keeps his promises. He says in the book of Jeremiah (it's a book in the Bible) that you will find Him when you seek Him with your WHOLE heart. Get in the Word! And if that honestly doesn't sound interesting or enticing, find a friend who you can tell by her life that she is walking with Jesus. One that you can be totally open and honest with about what you are seeking. A friend that you can say, “Hey I want what you have. I want to know Him like you do, but I have absolutely no idea where to start or what to do?”
That is a really scary suggestion I know, but trust me, they will be so very excited that you asked! That’s the thing about true believers, we want to walk on that journey with you. It feeds our souls as much as yours. There is nothing sweeter than watching the Lord and His Word awaken inside of someone. It is like watching Him work right before your eyes.
Oh and another thing, the term "quiet time" is the most common way to say "my time with the Lord. This whole thing about "quiet time" being only acceptable in the morning is nonsense. Yes it is a great way to start the day, but it is NOT a requirement. I am a night owl by nature so sometimes my quiet time is at the end of the day. I know how busy you mamas are! Start with 5 minutes a day and just see what He does with it. There are no rules for this. He just wants relationship with you.
Pray and commit what time you can for a month and see what He does. Carve out time for Him and let Him pursue and woo you! If you believe in Christ, you are His bride, and He would love nothing more to teach you your worth, your value, and how He desires for you to be treated. What if you did this for three months? See where He has taken you in that time. What has He taught you in your time with him? Then make another commitment, and then another. God is a good, good Father, and He wants to lead you and grow you. You just need to let Him!
So now that all of that is out of the way, I am going to list some really practical things that I have used in my journey.
If all of this is too overwhelming or intimidating then email a friend, Liesel, or me. Liesel and I would love to sit and talk to you about our Lord and His Word. We are passionate about Him, knowing Him and making Him known. To know us is to know that there is no question that too silly for either of us.
Now for the list:
- The Bible! If it helps, read the New Testament first. It starts with stories of Jesus and gets better from there- if you can believe that!
- Streams in the Dessert
- Jesus Calling
- Google single mom devotionals. There is a ton out there. But don’t just do the devo, read the passages that go with them. Memorize them.
- Community Bible Study or Bible Study Fellowship – these are BIG bible studies that are scripture based and can be found nationwide
- Blb.org – blue letter bible – my new favorite resource!!
- Commentaries that you can find at Lifeway or Mardel
- Podcasts of churches that you love and admire. I personally love the ones at Bayou City but I am a little biased. They are great for the treadmill or gym
- Read the Bible in a year – there are a ton of reading guides out there to accomplish this.
- Get involved in a small group or community group in a church near you.
We love you deeply and dearly and we are praying that you will let Him woo you and your children into a madly, deeply, passionate relationship with Him. There is no sweeter spot to land than in a relationship with Christ. It will rock your world sister!
Much love and prayers!