When you commit yourself to the Lord and to an intimate relationship with Him, He will begin to reveal Himself to you in ways you never noticed before. Salvation or eternal life is only found in an intimate, experiential relationship with God. So, you must learn in time, by experience, to know Him (John 17:3). God’s purpose is to reveal Himself to you in an on-going relationship as you “work out your own salvation” (Philippians 2:12-13), so you can learn to understand and recognize Him. And while He’s revealing Himself to you, He’s using all sorts of creative situations to conform you to the image of His Son (Romans 8:28-29). But, if you’re not careful, you can easily miss God.
The reason is that when God reveals Himself, it is not usually in ways the world would understand. This can bring us to a crisis point, as we compare what God may be doing to what we know is the conventional wisdom of the world. God will not work according to the wisdom of this world. In fact, He will usually do just the opposite. The key to knowing whether it’s God or not is found in this paraphrase of I Corinthians 1:18-21:
“The lesson that must be learned in our suffering with Christ is that, even though it looks foolish to those who are perishing without God, it is (in reality) the continual revelation of the power of God to us who are being saved. Remember what Isaiah said, ‘God will turn conventional wisdom upside down. The time will come when the so-called experts will be the ones who look foolish.’ So, where does that put the one who thinks he’s wise, or the well educated, or the one who understands the ways of the world? Isn’t God going to expose all of this pretentious nonsense? The world never had a clue when it came to knowing and understanding God. That’s why He likes to use the things that the world thinks are stupid or wrong or even unpleasant, to guide those who trust in Him on their way to salvation.”
For those of us who are learning to know God, we must not look at things with the eyes of our flesh or human understanding. We must learn to see with spiritual eyes, if we expect to see God. So, when you look at your circumstances:
- If it looks totally impossible (it’s probably God)
- If it’s going to cost you something you think you can’t afford (more than likely, it’sGod)
- If it’s something unpleasant that you would rather avoid if you could (you can be pretty sure that it’s God)
- If it’s opposite conventional, worldly wisdom (that sounds like it might be God)
- If it’s going to make you trust God and stretch your faith (that’s God)
- If it’s something that makes you aware of your own weaknesses or faults (it’s God)
- If it gives you the opportunity to humble yourself (it’s definitely God)
- If it’s taking longer than you think it should (there’s a good chance it’s God)
- If it makes you look foolish to those who don’t know God (it’s God, again)
- If it makes you look like a failure to those who think they really know God (it’s probably God)
- If it makes your heart ache and makes you cry out to God for help (God’s at work, like it or not)
- If you don’t understand it, don’t know what it’s going to take to fix it, or don’t have a clue what to do about it (look for God, that’s probably Him too!)
Having a real relationship with God is an exciting adventure. It’s unpredictable because it will usually contradict anything we know or can reason in our mind. God wants to teach us to trust Him, and the only way we can learn to do that is to submit to Him and hang on!
But understand this, the journey will take you places you don’t want to go, force you to do things you don’t want to do, cause you to feel things you never wanted to feel and know things about yourself that you never wanted to know. If you submit yourself to God, He will begin to tear you down, so He can rebuild you in the image of His Son. The tearing down and rebuilding process will be exciting, perplexing, excruciating, joyful, fulfilling and depressing. And many times you won’t understand it – except when you’re able to look back and see what God did and know how you changed!