by Sylvia Gaston
As an adult Christian, for many, many years I didn’t understand what people meant when they spoke about a relationship with Jesus. What does that even mean? How can you have a relationship with someone you cannot see, touch, and talk to?
We all know that we can talk to Jesus through prayer. Is it a one-way conversation, though? I’d been talking to Jesus for YEARS before I understood that I needed to listen to Him, too. That was the start of my two-way relationship with Jesus! Have I heard His voice audibly in my ears? No, although some say they have. Over time, I slowly began to hear Him speak to my brain, my heart, and my spirit. (By the way, God wasn’t slow to speak to me; I was slow in learning how to listen.)
How could I know that it wasn’t simply my thoughts and feelings I was hearing? It took me a long time to stop asking Him, “Is that you, Lord?” because, initially, I wasn’t that familiar with His voice. So I would wait. Guess what? Then I would receive verification from Him in other ways. It might be in a Bible verse that I came across or from another trusted person or even from a song, television program, or book I was reading.
For me, this began a process that I am now very familiar with – a process of God connecting the dots for me, confirming what He is trying to teach me or what He is guiding me towards…actually speaking to me!
Let me stop right here and say that this may not be the way God speaks to everyone. His relationship with everyone is unique. There are a number of ways to hear from God.
Over time, I have learned what His voice sounds like. Now I rarely ask, “Is that you, Lord?” What helped me develop my relationship with Jesus has been time spent talking to him (prayer), learning about His truths and desires for our lives (Bible) and listening for Him to speak to me in whatever way He chooses.
Eventually, I began to hear from Him through dreams, words or phrases that come to me before I am fully awake, or pictures in my mind while I am praying. It’s so exciting! It’s humbling to hear from God Almighty and learn how much He cares about my puny problems and life. It is even more humbling to hear Him ask me to care for, or minister to others whom He also cares so much about.
You see, we are ALL His sons and daughters. He wants only the best for us. He wants life for us as He originally intended before sin came into our world and lives. He desires to have a relationship with me and with you. Believe me, you want this, too! He is everywhere and He is for you.
John, a close friend and follower of Jesus, puts it this way – “This is love; it is not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His son as the sacrifice that deals with our sins.”
(1 John 4:10 CEB)
What is your next, or maybe first step to embarking upon your own relationship with the living God? Perhaps you need to take the first step of admitting you have sinned, believing that Jesus died and rose again for those sins, and choosing to follow Him. Simply pray that to Him and your new life begins! Maybe you need to up the amount of time you spend learning His voice through prayer or learning more about Him by reading His word, the Bible.
Paul, a man who had a face-to-face encounter with Jesus, explains it this way:
“God wanted people to look for Him, and perhaps in searching all around for Him, they would find Him. But He is not far from any of us. It is through Him that we are able to live, to do what we do, and to be who we are. As your own poets have said, ‘We all come from Him.’ (Acts 17:27 ERV)
A relationship is a two-way process. It takes initiating and committing to one another. It takes investing time and bonding with one another. It may look a little different with Jesus than it does with your friends. Just know that He is waiting to hear from you, to move closer to you, to guide you and show you His love. He wants a relationship with you today and every day until you stand face-to-face with Him into eternity.