An excited lady approached me this week, saying that she had been waiting for an opportunity to come introduce herself to me. Well, I am always so happy to be meeting new people, so we struck a conversation with ease. It wasn’t long that I discovered that this lady used to know my father. She went on and on about him, while I listened to and absorbed all the information she was sharing. I was overjoyed. Here was yet another person who clearly knew personal details about my father that I wished I knew, details that added to the mental image I had formed of him.
This has been the story of my life. When my father died I was only four months old, so everything I know about him is second-hand information that I have been gathering over the years. I must admit, I’ve done a good job of piecing all the information together, so that he doesn’t feel like a stranger anymore. I now feel like I know who he was. I can tell you little things about him that make him special and familiar to me. But, fact is, that will never compensate for the fact that I DIDN’T GET TO KNOW HIM PERSONALLY.
All the information in the world will never make up for the fact that I have never had the pleasure of hearing my father laugh. I would not be able to tell his hand-writing apart. Everything I know of him, I’ve never experienced personally. I have never experienced his love for me. I have never looked into his eyes. I have never felt his touch. I have never run to him for protection. I’ve never had him discipline me for anything wrong that I did. I have a lot of respect for him, but I never had the chance to respect him. My picture of him is rich and colourful, but it is exactly that – nothing more than a picture, nothing more than a mental image, nothing more than pleasant information.
And, that’s where many people stand with God. Although this is rapidly changing, we grow up in a world that is filled with information about who God is. We are fed Bible stories from an early age, so that by the time we grow up, we can’t help but feel that we know who God is. We know He opened the Red Sea, we know He sent His Son to die on the cross for us. We know tiny little details of miracles He performed, details that make us feel like we know Him. But, fact is, to most people, God is just second-hand information they’ve acquired throughout the years. THEY DO NOT KNOW HIM PERSONALLY.
So, examine your relationship with God. Are you singing Him praises because of what you personally know about Him or because of what you have heard about Him? Is all the excitement and the love you feel for Him based on what you have experienced personally or is it based on what you have witnessed about Him? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but unless your relationship with God is personal, it will not last. You are an intelligent being. Time will come when you realize that gathering information is pointless, singing empty praises is useless. Knowing that God loved the world so much that He sent His only Son to die for us won’t do you much good when you are drowning in depression. Knowing that the Holy Spirit came to many on Pentecost is not enough to give you peace in moments of tribulation. You need a personal encounter with God.
It might be too late for me to know my biological father. But, it’s not too late for you to know God on a personal level. Seek from Him a personal encounter with Him, while you still have the chance. It isn't very complicated. In fact, it is this simple.