On that first day of AVPI 2011, teachers and students and everyone else were in a flurry of activity, hustling and bustling to get to their classrooms. Everybody was excited, and each person eager to learn something new and understand more of God’s Word. As the God-given teacher took his place up front, students also took their seats and sat down, looking up with fresh faces (because we didn’t have assignments, projects and Bible writing given to us yet), waiting for the teacher to speak. Soon enough, the first thing that I remember hearing was:

“The kind of relationship you have with your Bible is the kind of relationship you have with your Lord.”

And that, threw me off my balance. Well, it’s not like I fell off my chair; what I mean is, I thought I already had a “good enough” relationship with the Lord because I was a Christian. But whoa! When I heard that, I realized that my relationship with Him was lacking, and the only way to have a close and intimate fellowship with the Lord was through His word, taking into mind John 1:1-14. But still I questioned, “How can I have a deeper relationship with God’s Word?” I didn’t have to go far to look—the answers were all in the Bible itself. Here are a few:

“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:”—1 Peter 2:2

Desire. A baby cannot grow unless he drinks milk, but he will never drink unless he desires, or rather, hungers for milk. All the children of God should grow spiritually, but how can one mature without desiring God’s word? We have to have a desire for God, and only He, through the Holy Spirit, can place in us the desire to have a deep relationship with Him. Growing starts with the desire to grow; loving my Saviour starts with the desire to love His Book. To have a closer relationship with the Lord, I had to check myself: Have I been longing to read His word? Have I put the reading of the Bible as my top priority each day? I can just imagine how Mary hung on to every single word that passed through the lips of Jesus while she sat at His feet. She must have had the deepest desire to listen to what her Lord had to say. Perhaps I was like Martha, that the distractions of life preceded what should be the most important thing. But, time and again I am reminded that God’s Holy words are “more to be desired”. I needed to sit down at Jesus’ feet and listen to His voice, keeping in mind this verse: “Whom have I in heaven but thee? there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.”—Psalm 73:25.

 “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”—Psalm 119:11

Easy to quote, but hard to apply. Hiding God’s word in our hearts could include daily Bible reading, and memorization. But it’s not just the hiding; it is the keeping and applying that will testify of how much you and I love the Scriptures, and of how much we love the Lord.

In some books (and perhaps in real life), before a man and a woman are married, and they would send each other letters, they would keep the ones they received and hide it in a special place to read again sometime. Then, after many years, when they do come back to read those letters, they remember their love for one another and are reminded to keep getting to know more about each other. What if I was in that kind of relationship with the Lord, and the letters His words? Would I keep them and hide them in my heart? Would I constantly come back to read of His love and grace, and have the joy of my first love, my first meeting with the Saviour, my salvation, restored unto me? Would I continue getting to know more about Jesus, until the day that I meet Him in glory?

 “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is the the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”—Psalm 1:1-2

To say that you delight in doing something in particular does not really mean anything, unless you live it out and others see it in your everyday life. For example, if I say I have delight in making cakes and pastries and then you hear me complaining about having to bake too much, would you still think that I enjoy baking for others? I don’t think so. But these verses are telling me that if my delight is truly the law of the LORD, I should not be walking in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit in the seat of the scornful. Again I had to examine myself:  Do I listen to, or read, ungodly counsels, rather than God’s counsel? Does my way of life have a difference from the lives of the unbelievers? Would they clearly see that Jesus lives in me? Am I sitting in the seat of the scornful, giving little importance to His word? Oh, how I pray that I would be as that blessed man in the first Psalm, that all my desire is to know Christ and to meditate in His laws, His commandments, His statutes and precepts. How I pray that my delight be in the law of the LORD!

Only three passages in the Scripture are mentioned; there are more, and surely, you can quote some of them. Though it is the will of God that His children draw closer to Him, not every Christian has a close fellowship, an intimate relationship, with their Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. But consider this—a Christian living without a relationship with God is a mediocre Christian. Being saved does not only include relief from problems; it also comes with the relationship that follows. As I mentioned earlier, I knew that I was saved, but somehow I was missing something in my fellowship with the Lord. I had to humble myself before God, to ask forgiveness for the stubbornness of my heart, and to continually have a hunger and desire for His word and in knowing more of the One who saved me. And with that, I finally understood that to have a deeper relationship with God, we, being children of God, must needs fellowship with Him and His word by reading and meditating on the Scriptures and by talking to the Lord in prayer. A husband and wife may talk to each other everyday, but the relationship grows even dearer with the quality of conversation. When we read the Bible, do we just pore over it through like any other book, or do we read it as if it was speaking to us? The word of God is alive and if we let it talk to us through the Holy Spirit, we can draw nearer to God. Even when we talk to God in prayer, do we often pray for our own selfish requests? Can we not praise Him even more for His grace, mercy, love, holiness, obedience at the cross, and all His many wonderful works? When we have that closeness in our relationship with our Saviour, our prayer times will be more precious and our reading of the Scriptures sweeter. Is there something going on between you and your God? These things must show.

Deeper, deeper in the love of Jesus

Still nearer, ever closer to Thy heart

‘Tis my earnest prayer and plea:

Lord, let me be still close to Thee.

Even when my days are troubled,

And the cares of life beset me,

Let me not forget to be

Ever closer, still closer to Thee.

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