How would you honestly describe your relationship with God? Or better yet, how would those close to you describe your relationship with God? I’ve heard lots of cliché statements like “I’m sold out for Christ”, “Jesus is my all”, and the like. I don’t judge but if God gave you everything you ever asked for, and you had no more needs, would you still be devoted to Him? For most of my life, my prayers revolved around asking God for things. So, it was a revelation for me to realise that the primary purpose of prayer isn’t for me to ask God for things. Prayer is a medium to draw me closer to God so that I can discern His will for me and obtain the grace and understanding to live it out.
Many of us have a transactional relationship with God. We believe in Him because of what is in it for us, such as not going to hell, prosperity, good health and so on. When these things don’t happen as we expect, our faith in God begins to falter. Yet, Job says: “though He slays me, yet I will trust in Him” [Job 13:15]. The Bible gives us a picture of a benevolent God who wants to do exceedingly more abundantly for us than we could ever ask or think [Ephesians 3:20]. But this is a consequence of our relationship with Him, not the reason for it. In fact, the first thing that God requires of us is to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength [Luke 10:27]. Accomplishing this would require intense passion. Can you say you love God with intense passion?
The sad truth is that many of us display more passion for our hobbies, kids or spouses than for God. Observe the passion with which we support our sports teams, the emotional investment as well as the time and money we spend on them. How does it compare with our passion for God? What about the way we feel about our kids or spouses, how does that compare with our passion for God? Do we pine for God like we do our loved ones? Are we as adept at defending the gospel as we are at defending our sporting heroes? Do we invest as much time and effort in prayer and studying God’s word as we do with the other things we’re passionate about?
These are pertinent questions to examine in our walk with God. The Bible gives us an example of a man who was passionate about God in David. David wasn’t a perfect man, but He wasn’t lukewarm about God. His psalms are so emotive, it’s impossible to miss His passion for God. Expressions like my soul pines for you like a deer for running water [Psalm 42:1] capture his heart for God. In another place he tells us: “One thing I have asked from the Lord, this I long: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and seek Him in His temple” [Psalm 27:4]. Be honest, if you could only ask God for one thing, what would it be? Power, wealth, fame, success, a spouse, a child, healing? Mine isn’t the same as David’s yet, but I want it to be.
At David’s lowest point, when he’s about to lose a child, his family and his reputation for committing adultery and murder, David goes before God in repentance [2 Samuel 12:1-15]. His contrition is beautifully captured in the poignant Psalm 51. After pleading for forgiveness, David doesn’t ask God to save the life of his son, nor does he ask God to stop the impending doom on his family. Instead, he prays: “Do not cast me away from your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me” [Psalm 51:11]. This psalm emphasises the fact that his relationship with God was what David valued most. He was prepared to lose everything else, not that. I wonder, what would I have prayed for if I was in David’s shoes? What’s the one thing I’m not prepared to lose?
What’s more, David didn’t have the revelation of Jesus we have. He died long before God’s ultimate expression of His love at Calvary. So, one could argue that we should love God more passionately than he did. The truth is we can’t make ourselves love God. Nevertheless, we must earnestly desire to love God. Jesus teaches us how to do this in two practical steps. First, we must know His commandments. Second, we must keep them [John 14:21]. So, the degree to which you want to know God’s word and obey them is the degree to which you love God. David knew this well [Psalm 19:7-10]. He knew also that God rewards those who diligently seek Him [Psalm 19:11, Hebrews 11:6]. One of those rewards is His presence.
Sadly, many of us don’t value God’s presence. We don’t long for it as David did. In Psalm 16, David describes what it’s like. He tells us that in God’s presence, we’re satisfied with an abundance of joy and we find eternal delights and pleasures [Psalm 16:11]. We find life, security, goodness, beauty, restoration, instruction, acceptance and wisdom for life. These are our core longings, yet we trivialise their very Source and chase after worthless things and counterfeit gods [Psalm 119:37]. How this must break God’s heart. Our benevolent Father knows what we need and desires to satisfy us in His presence. Sadly, we’re often too busy futilely trying to do it all for ourselves [Matthew 6:25-33].
It’s hard to miss what you don’t know. David knew and that’s why God’s presence was his one thing. Therefore, God called Him a man after His heart [Acts 13:22]. Would God describe your relationship with Him in such passionate terms? Do you want Him to?