Don’t give up

A wise man once said: “He who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only.” If he’s right, life’s most important quest is getting to know God [Jeremiah 9:23-24]. Yet, many, including Christians, prioritise pursuing things like money, fame, power and accolades above God. Unsurprisingly, they find little peace and fulfilment even when they attain success because there’s a violation of a spiritual principle [Matthew 6:33]. As I observe the chaos and uncertainty in our world today, I often wonder how people can face the future confidently without God, especially when so much lies outside our control. I desire security for my family and myself, and I’m convinced that only God can provide it to the degree which allows me to sleep blissfully every night.

We should never seek God for selfish reasons because it doesn’t work. God isn’t a means to an end. However, I find it helpful to review why we exist whenever I reflect on my priorities. Consider my children: My wife and I had no mutual friends when we met through the most improbable medium. Yet, if we hadn’t met, they would never exist. In fact, if you assess the complicated web of supposedly random events and relationships that form your ancestry, it’s impossible to escape the infinitesimal chances of your existence. That reality leads to one of two conclusions. Your existence is either a coincidence or decreed by another. If the former is true, life has no meaning. But if the latter is true, my life is intentional and has meaning and purpose beyond those I determine for myself. Real contentment emanates from finding and fulfilling the reason for our existence, and that’s impossible without our Creator.

Not everyone will accept the above proposition because it’s a conclusion drawn by revelation, not reason. My desires and priorities changed once I understood how desperately I needed God – an indispensable experience for every believer. Back then, I thought: “If God desires a relationship with me and I want to know Him, then my quest would be easy”. But today, I think differently. In my experience, although what we need to do to find God is straightforward, developing the intimate, conversational relationship with God which Jesus modelled is hard. Unsurprisingly, many of us never reach a point in our Christian walk where we hear and obey God as Isaiah prophesied [Isaiah 30:21]. Most of us fumble in the dark, living by trial and error instead of being led by the Holy Spirit [Romans 8:14]. Years ago, I thought that was the norm until I realised that some people genuinely hear from God and are led by His Spirit to awe-inspiring exploits [Daniel 11:32]. Earlier in my Christian walk, I was suspicious of such people, but now I understand that such intimacy with God is a reward.

Any couple will tell you that achieving intimacy in a relationship takes time and an unwavering pursuit of the beloved. If you’re serious about a person, you get to know them; their bent, likes and dislikes – you pursue their heart. The author of the letter to the Hebrews, after defining faith a few verses earlier [Hebrews 11:1], makes this statement: “But without faith it is impossible to [walk with God and] please Him, for whoever comes [near] to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him” [Hebrews 11:6 AMP]. That’s one of the most poignant verses in the Bible for me. It has a few notable verbs that merit study, but the phrase: “He rewards…” encapsulates my “why” whenever someone quips about my faith or pursuit of deeper intimacy with God. 

One of the tragedies in the Church today is that very few Christians make intimacy with God attractive. Since few of us get to observe those who have tasted heaven’s rewards up close, we don’t truly desire it [Psalm 42:1, Psalm 27:4]. Interestingly, those who experience genuine intimacy with God value it above all else [Matthew 13:44-46]. In those I’ve observed, their awareness of their purpose and sense of fulfilment is palpable. They seem to effortlessly attract the things many of us pursue instead of God [Psalm 23:6, 3 John 1:2]. They also possess an otherworldly peace amid the chaos and uncertainty that keep even the rich, powerful and famous awake at night [Philippians 4:7]. To me, they seem to be living the life Jesus came to give [John 10:10]. I don’t know about you, but I want everything Jesus died for me to have in this life, and we can all have it [2 Peter 1:3-4]. Yet, it must be on God’s terms, not ours.

While reflecting on the idea for this blog, I stumbled on a tweet which read: “The fruit of intimacy with God is righteousness”. The author was onto something because though God imputes His righteousness to believers freely [2 Corinthians 5:21], He requires something from us in return – righteousness. We’re to work out our salvation [Philippians 2:12]. That requires an unwavering commitment to living as God commands [Matthew 5-7, John 14:15-31], daily consecrating ourselves and unlearning all that conforms to the world [Romans 12:1-2], and learning God’s ways so that we can be holy as He is holy [1 Peter 1:13-20]. As someone trying to do this, I assure you it’s hard to stay consistent because the world, the flesh, and the devil are viciously trying to sabotage us daily [1 John 2:16]. Nevertheless, stand firm resolutely, especially in the spiritual practices which draw us closer to God [Ephesians 6:10-18, 1 John 4:4].

Some days, God may seem distant, and you may feel like you’re making no progress in your relationship with Him, but don’t give up pursuing Him, even if you stumble and fall [Proverb 24:16]. God is just; He will reward your persistence lavishly [Galatians 6:9].

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