I was at a meeting called Celebrate Recovery!--it's like AA for everything--life's hurts, habits, and hang-ups. I think this is why I laughed. Here I am, obviously a "beggar at the door of God's mercy," and she envies ME. I was flat-out humbled. And realized even more how great God is.
She went on to say, "I've been a Christian for a long time, but I don't feel like I have that kind of relationship with God the way you do. I want to know what I need to do to get there."
I replied, "Well, I'm sorry to say, but there is nothing you can do to get there."
I went on to explain that God's work of grace in my life has been a long road. My journey to "get there" is not complete. I've been blessed by experiences with Him, grace extended to me in my darkest moments, and just loved on by His people. My journey into a deeper relationship with God goes far beyond a list of things to do. In fact, I can't take any credit for the journey. I believe He has orchestrated all of it. If anything on my part, there was a desire to know Him more. He has been faithful to grant that.
"Even you just asking me about this tonight is part of YOUR journey. You will look back someday and remember that this was part of it," I told her.
I tried to explain that there were a couple of really great books that have shaped and blessed me over the years. I wrote down the titles* and gave them to her. I told her to call me if she wanted to chat some more. I hope she does.
I think she wanted a formula. The "me" from just a few years back would have wanted one too. Perhaps, she wanted me to say, "If you just read your Bible more, pray more, be faithful to church, and stop sinning, THEN you can know Him more deeply." A lot of churches teach this heresy. The path to knowing God is not about disciplining yourself into what you believe is obedience. It's about letting Him reveal Himself to you in a myriad of ways--yes, His Word is one way, but so are His people and His very voice in your spirit, speaking His truth to you and over you.
There is NO formula.
In the kingdom of heaven, a+b≠c. Everything is a paradox--you die to live, you lose to win, the first is last, you give to those who take from you.
There is NO formula.
I'll end with this quote I read on Facebook yesterday. It totally sums up how I feel about my walk with God--knowing Him, letting Him love me, and being able to love Him back:
I used to think that what God wanted for me to do was try harder, get
more committed, deny myself and keep my sin under control and then I
would begin to see change. But I am learning that the fight in the
Christian life is the fight of faith...to believe the Gospel of grace
...(that God in Christ has forgiven you of all your debt with Him and that He has given you all His 'rightness') really is true. -Tom Wood
I repeat, there is NO formula.
*The titles I recommended are The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning which was a catalyst in my journey of grace. In my journey of understanding God's love, He Loves Me! by Wayne Jacobsen takes the cake.