Updated: May 21, 2019
Some of my earliest memories are of visiting church with my mom so it can be said I have been in church almost my entire life. It wasn’t until my late teens that I began to have a deeper relationship with God, mostly as He became so real in the midst of significant personal struggles and pain. In my early 20s, God faithfully carried me through a crisis as I seriously sought Him during one of the toughest times of my life. It was such a rich time of getting to know Him and feeling so close to Him. I felt enveloped in His presence almost constantly. He was all I could think about and it boiled over effortlessly as I lovingly spoke of Him to everyone who would listen. This experience changed the course of my life and has now led me to serve Him and people for almost 30 years in vocational ministry.
During those early years, no one had to motivate me to follow God, spend time with Him and seek to know Him more. It was an automatic overflow of a vibrant and constant relationship with Him resulting from encounters with Him in prayer and worship. The “Invisible God” became as real as anyone I could see with my own eyes. The Bible talks about a “First Love” experience in Revelations Chapter 2 and I definitely felt that kind of love in those first years of my faith walk. After years of friendship with God, I have found it takes some intentional effort on my part to maintain that passionate feeling I had originally. I have also found it is not something I have to strive for but a simple redirection of my focus and interest and God always meets me at that place.
In many ways, our relationship with God is like any other we might have with our spouses or friends. After years of familiarity with someone, it may be challenging to maintain consistent motivation and feelings of commitment with that person. I will celebrate my 28th wedding anniversary in a few months and my relationship with my wife is not based on the feelings of infatuation I originally felt. Those feelings went away for both of us not long into our marriage. Infatuation is a really pleasant experience but can be just as fleeting as it is powerful. Our marriage has had some ups and downs but our love for one another is stronger than ever because we have invested in it. We have learned to communicate better and are intentional in keeping our fire burning by spending quality time and sharing our hearts with each other.
In the book of Leviticus 6:12-13, God told His priests to keep the fire burning on the altar and not let it ever go out. The priests were to fuel the fire every morning by putting more wood on it. Our flame for God will begin to go out if we don’t take care by putting fuel on that fire every day. Personally it has been really easy at times to neglect doing this by getting distracted, losing focus, and failing to invest in this relationship. That being said, it is actually easier than you’d think to get back on track with God by consciously turning to Him throughout the day, inviting Him into your life, speaking to Him about anything or everything and spending time in His word. As you do this your connection will be strengthened and your fire will begin to heat up again. It also helps to know God desires a close relationship with us always and is simply waiting patiently for us to constantly turn to Him.
There are few things more pleasant and important than a romantic relationship with my wife. Even after all these years we can still maintain fiery passion for each other if we both are committed to it. In much the same way we can experience a pure, passionate, fiery relationship with God if we are willing to invest in it by fueling it every day. Experiencing closeness with God is the greatest thing we can have this side of heaven.