“Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent” (John 17:3).
It’s been a long dry spell in my heart lately. I’ve sensed a distance between me and God. Not that He has moved away, but more that my focus is off and my passion has cooled. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not abandoning my faith. I love the Lord, I am committed to follow Him and live for Him, but something seems – off. Prayer has been a struggle and while I continue with my daily devotions and Scripture reading, I’m not all in like I once was. I’ve tried to figure it out. Maybe it’s the turmoil of the past year and the uncertain future we are facing. Maybe it’s disappointment or disillusionment. Maybe it’s a lot of heartache. Maybe . . . maybe . . . maybe.
One recent morning, as I rolled this over in my mind again, I had the urge to grab a tape measure and measure the distance between my head and my heart. 22 inches.
“What does that mean Lord?”
“That is the difference between what you know in your head and what you know in your heart.”
Last fall I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Biblical and Theological Studies. It was four years of hard work, study, and pounding out acres of papers, reports and tests. I loved it! I learned so much about the Bible, God, Jesus, creation, the Church – and yes, even algebra. I read hundreds of pages every week in my textbooks and read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation with courses dedicated to individual books. I dug into words and context and history and ate up every minute of it. Mind you I am not a biblical expert – far from it. I don’t know it all; in fact, I barely scratched the surface. But I learned a lot. You would think all that I learned would cause me to draw closer to God, but in truth, the opposite seems to have happened. You see, I was so busy and so focused on learning all I could know about God and His Word that I failed to know Him. All that knowledge does me no good if it just sits in my head and never reaches my heart. It’s like a seed lying dormant on the surface rather than under the ground where it can put down roots and grow strong.
So how do I make all this knowledge jump from my head to my heart? I don’t think it’s something I can do but only the Holy Spirit. Still, I do have some responsibility, like blocking out all the distractions (can you say Facebook?) and inviting the Spirit to speak to me as I read His Word. By sitting still before Him and listening with intention and focus, praying about what I’ve read, then living it out. Then again, experience is often the best teacher. Sometimes we don’t know who God really is until we have to.
Through my studies I learned that God is El Roi – the God that sees – but how do I know that He is the God that sees me. He is Yahweh Maphalti – the God who delivers – but I won’t know that in my heart until He has to deliver me. How will I know Yahweh Chereb – the Lord—the sword – unless He fights for me? Is He Yahweh Sali – the Lord my rock? Do I know El Simchath Gili is God who brings me joy? Is He El Hayyay – the God of my life?
I used to think it was enough to know all I could learn about God, but I’m finding that when it’s all head-knowledge, it doesn’t move my heart – and my heart is what God is after. My heart is where change happens. So every morning when I come to meet with God, I will turn my phone off, log out of Facebook and email and soak in His Word. I will come in a spirit of humility and be still and listen. I will meditate on the Word and let the truths—and the Truth—take root in my heart. I will pray about what God says to me and ask Him to help me receive it and believe it. I will “come near to God and He will come near to me” (James 4:8).
Twenty-two inches isn’t much on tape measure, but it is the difference between knowing about God and knowing God. I’m not satisfied with a head full of knowledge anymore. I want to know God with all my heart.
I’ll share my journey with you in this blog. I pray you too will discover the difference 22 inches can make.
El Hayyay, God of my life, please don’t let me waste all I’ve learned about you. Take all my head knows and make it take root in my heart.