By Marilyn Adamson
J.I. Packer stated it well, “We are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about the God whose world it is and who runs it.”1
When I was an atheist, I wanted to find a philosophy, an approach to life that would work in any situation. I thought that if I found the right reason to live, a strong enough goal or a well-tested, workable approach, I would be able to handle anything. I could be completely capable.
I searched for this steadily. I studied a philosophy until I understood it. Then I would try it out. I tested various philosophies and found each one either unrealistic or insufficient.
I did not realize that what I really needed was another person to walk through life with me. One who is without limits, without failures, and with unlimited wisdom that he was willing to share with me.
A friend’s life caused me to consider another direction. Could God actually exist?
After a year and a half of investigating the evidence for God’s existence, I asked him to come into my life.
The Bible describes what I found to be true. “…anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”2
This mentions Christ, because it is Jesus Christ who brings this change. Jesus said, “I came that you might have life, and have it more abundantly.”3
Most surprising, as I read the gospels about Jesus' life, I noted how often--and how detailed--he describes his love for us.
What began as an intellectual pursuit became a very personal awareness that God is far more than I ever expected. I discovered that God’s love is not based on “if we will…” or “when we will…” It is not contingent on our actions or whether we deserve God’s love. We don’t. He loves us because it is God’s nature to love.
David says in the Psalms, “your steadfast love is better than life…”4 and “with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.”5
When we begin a personal relationship with God, life begins to make sense.
Here are just a few examples of people who have written to our site:
- I just really love that I can trust God.
- I'm now in a relationship with God. It's true that we are designed to be in a relationship with him. I feel Complete.
- Thank you for opening up my eyes and heart as to how I could have a relationship with the Lord.
- I was an atheist and did not know christ until about 6 weeks ago. My relationship with him is amazing and growing. I have had so many burdens lifted and i have never been happier in my life, for god is faithful and continues to prove his love for me.
- I thank you in so many ways for helping me discover god--your website has helped start my quest to know god, though I know it was god who pursued me.
- I am slowly learning about this amazing Jesus our Lord, our savior. I must say I am in awe of our God. He is wonderful. I am getting to know him more easily, excited to read the book of John. I am proud to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
- Thanks for helping me find god and myself.
- now I know that I can go to God with bad feelings. I don't always need to take it on myself, or have someone to talk to about it, or drink over it. I can go to God with it.
God can change your life. He will not make it problem-free. You will still have relationship challenges, maybe financial problems, etc. You will still be a human being, living in our world. And it’s far from perfect.
However, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”6 We don’t go through life blindly. He guides us.
He quiets our fear. No matter what is going on, God can be trusted. Jesus said, “My peace I give to you, not as the world gives to you. Be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” He is stronger than any problem, walking with you through it, as your closest friend.
He changes areas of our lives that we can’t change. The Bible says that there are areas in our lives that enslave us, that dictate to us.
We might not want to get angry, yet we lose our temper. We might want to be generous, yet it seems hard to put others ahead of our own needs and desires. Even when we want to be free, we struggle with hatred toward others or toward ourselves, and just can’t seem to shake it.
Jesus said that when we know him, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”7 He changes how we see life, how we think about others, how we see ourselves. God is amazing and more real than you might now imagine.
God has such a genuine love for us that he himself provided the way for us to get close to him. What stands in the way of people connecting with God is our sin (our thoughts or actions that God sees as wrong). If you've ever wondered why your prayers seem to go nowhere, this may be why. Our sin separates us from God, who is holy.
The consequence of sin is death. That means being forever separated from God by our sin. Out of his love for us, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died in our place. Jesus took all of our sin on his shoulders while he willingly died on a cross.
"God showed His love to us. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."8 Jesus did this for us so we could be completely forgiven…forever. The wall of sin that separated us from God is now gone.
A relationship with God is offered to all who will believe in Jesus, who will accept God’s offer of forgiveness.
Religions often set up a one-way scenario where you go to the effort, you worship God, you perform rituals, you obey rules, you prove your devotion to God. It is dutiful, but there is no relationship.
In contrast, the Bible clearly presents God as welcoming, as desiring to lead you into real life that he created for you, as he intimately guides you. He invites us to know him and trust him.
People pay quite a lot of money for a “life coach.” This is a person who gets to know the person’s life, schedule, relationships, decisions, and seeks to guide the person into greater productivity and life satisfaction.
God knows us better than a life coach ever could. He knows our past, present and future. He’s intimately aware of every relationship we’ve ever had, and its impact on our lives. He knows why he created us, our needs, areas that are weighing on it, aspects of our lives we wish we could change, but can’t.
It is religion that creates demands. Jesus wants to lead us into freedom. He said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”9 Free from what? From worry, lack of purpose, fear, hatred, destructive habits.
Instead of religious obligations, Jesus leads us into life-giving rest. Jesus said, “Come to me, all who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…learn from me…and you will find rest for your souls.”10
This life is not easy! But in the midst of our concerns, there is a powerful God whom you can know, who can give your heart peace and your life strength, beyond what you could muster on your own.
And, as you talk to him and trust him, often you will see that he hears you. This does not mean we dictate to God and he does whatever we wish. However, we can know that he is very aware of us and capable of taking care of us who trust him. God will respond with action in situations in wise and caring ways. As you get to know God, your faith in him will grow.
Jesus said, “Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.”11
When we ask Jesus into our lives we receive his forgiveness, and we begin a relationship with him that lasts forever. Jesus invites us into a relationship with himself this way. He said, "I stand at the door (of your heart) and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him (or her)."12
If you want to do this, but aren't sure how to put it into words, this may help: "Jesus, thank you for dying for my sins. You know my life and that I need to be forgiven. I ask you to forgive me right now and come into my life. I want to know you in a real way. Come into my life now. Thank you that you wanted a relationship with me. Amen."
God views your relationship with him as permanent. Referring to all those who believe in him, Jesus Christ said of us, "I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand."13
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Footnotes: (1) J.I. Packer; Knowing God; InterVarsity Press, pg 14. (2) 2Corinthians 5:17 (3) John 10:10 (4) Psalms 63:3 (5) Psalms 36:9 (6) John 8:12 (7) John 8:32 (8) Rom 5:8 (9) John 8:31,32 (10) Matthew 11:28,29 (11) Luke 6:47,48 (12) Revelation 3:20 (13) John 10:27-28