Yesterday in church, our pastor focused on one of Jesus’ miracles explicated in John 9, the healing of a congenitally blind man. Particularly, he focused on the blind man’s slow evolution toward realization of Jesus’ nature: first he saw Jesus as “the man they call Jesus” (9:11), then as a prophet (9:17), then as a leader for whom he could be a disciple (9:27), then as a man sent from God (9:33), and finally as Savior and Lord (9:38).
The sermon made me think about how enlightenment rarely comes all at once. Even for those of us who had lightning-bolt conversions to Christianity (and I suspect that most people do not), a full understanding of God does not drop from heaven full-blown the day we approach the altar. Even after being saved, the process of spiritual growth is lifelong. Our understanding of who God is and how He is deepens and grows more complex over time – or it should, anyway.
In other words, if God looks precisely the same to you as He did the moment you became saved, it might be worthwhile to examine the depth of your relationship with Him.
I became a Christian at the age of eight. From then to up through my high school years, I grew roots in the faith: I learned about God’s boundless love and forgiveness and about His desires for His children. I talked to God more than I listened for God, which is apt for a child, I think. I learned to pray and to ask for things. I depended on God to guide me through circumstances and give me purpose and help me make decisions. I turned to God for comfort and stability and strength. During that time, I came to know God as the Prince of Peace, I came to know the Comforter, and I came to know Jesus’ great love and sacrifice.
In college, that changed. For the first time in my life I met a vast group of Christians my own age who committed to their faith for many years. I attended three Bible studies a week and ended up leading a campus Christian group. All the strengths I’d cultivated came into play as, for the first time in a major way, service became the theme of my life. During those years I was constantly learning more about Jesus as a servant, about God’s sacrificial love for others, about evangelism, and about ministry. I didn’t lose any of what I’d learned before, but my focus turned from learning to serving, and I met Christ on that level in a way I hadn’t before.
And now I am thirty-three. What strikes me about my walk the most now is that for the first time in my life I’m experiencing a deep desire simply to walk with God. Not to ask about things, but to hear from Him. To be with Him. To simply dwell in His presence and learn and be transformed by just that. And what’s so astonishing about that to me is that I’ve been a Christian for a quarter of a century (wow, and I didn’t realize how long that was until I wrote it down) and what I sense in my morning time with God is that there is so much more, infinitely much more, of Him to know.
God is waiting to reveal more and more of who He is – to those who are available, and to those who are seeking. Of all the prayers I have prayed in the past ten years of my life, the prayer that God would let me be closer to Him has been the most loudly, consistently, and recklessly answered. If you’re ready to look and to grow, God will certainly reveal Himself to you in ways you probably can’t even consider right now – Job 26: 14 reminds us that we have seen only “the outer fringes of His works – how faint the whisper we hear of Him! Who then can understand the thunder of His power?”
Don’t be content where you are. Don’t assume you have all or enough of God. More is always waiting, however far you’ve come, and our knowledge of God will grow with us as we let it. It’s my hope for all of you that God will reveal Himself to you this season in a new and unexpected way.