Cultivating a Romance
The key to developing a strong relationship with God is to simply commit to the relationship, not the ritual. We are called to love God, not perform for God and hope God loves us. God does love us and invites us to cultivate this divine romance. If you are authentically, passionately in love with God, then, as you cultivate this divine romance, you will gradually be transformed to become more godly in your thoughts and actions.
Relationships of any kind are not easy to cultivate. So, what does it take to cultivate a quality relationship?
First, you need to know about the other person. You need to “study” them, so to speak, and learn about who they are, where they come from, what makes them tick, what ticks them off, and so on. This kind of learning requires time spent with that person and quality communication back and forth. You learn about God by spending time listening to God speak to find out who God is. Let’s call this loving God with your mind.
Second, you need to connect at an emotional level with that person. Try to think about the first time you fell in love. There was a strange feeling in your stomach, your palms got sweaty, and your heart beat a little faster when that person walked in the room. These emotions went beyond information. They were beyond reason. They ignited your spirit and connected you with that person in a way that you were not connected to anyone else. We need to experience that kind of connection with God as well. God is not just an abstract concept to be studied. God is a personality. God wants to be the lover of our soul. Let’s call this loving God with your spirit.
Third, you need to take action with your love. Healthy couples touch each other. They hold hands, they cuddle, they give each other gifts, and they take care of each other’s physical needs. Married couples share in physical intimacy. God gave us physical bodies and physical resources so that we can express our love for God in very concrete, practical ways. We demonstrate our love to God by giving out of our physical resources and by loving others through acts of service and mercy. That is what it means to love God with your body.
When we talk about loving God with our mind, spirit, and body we can see that we love God with our whole self. This is what the Bible means when it says to love God with your whole heart. It takes a long time and a lot of work to learn how to love another human being. If that is true, then it will take eternity to learn to love the infinite God.
In other words, be patient. God loves you and invites you to cultivate this holy romance. Here is a simple way to start…
Going on a D.A.T.E. with God
The following is a practical guide to help you get started in spending time with God for the purpose of getting to know who God is at a deeper level. Just like a young couple in a budding romance, you must make a D.A.T.E. with God on a regular basis.
In a world that is filled with frenetic activity that can easily consume us, the word intentionality is the key to our survival. The only way to do the important things in life is to make time. Every person is allotted exactly the same number of hours in every week. How we use those hours is a matter of priorities and a conscious act of the will.
If you have never spent time with God before, then I challenge you to set aside 15 minutes each day, five days a week, for this DATE. Put in on your calendar. Make no exceptions. It’s the most important meeting of your day.
Aquire Information (Read Scripture)
You will not be able to read the entire Bible in one sitting, nor should you do so. Don’t be overwhelmed by the size and scope of the book. You know what they say about eating an elephant. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
The way to understand God through the study of Scripture is to simply begin reading. A little bit every day.
When God led his people through the desert in the book of Numbers, he provided daily bread for them called manna. Jesus said that his word is our daily bread. The scripture is our nutritional power pack for each day. In the same way that you would not eat only once a week, so you should not go without scripture for more than a day.
Think about what you’ve learned (Meditate)
Christian meditation is the process of slowing down one’s body and clearing the mind of distractions–through breathing exercises, silence, etc.–for the purpose of focusing on the Word of God and listening to the Holy Spirit.
Here’s a simple starter plan for meditation in your DATE.
- Find a quiet place for your DATE.
- Begin by taking a few deep breaths and stretching your neck and shoulders.
- Ask God to help you focus and pay attention to what he is going to say to you through your reading.
- Keep a notebook handy to jot down thoughts and ideas that come to you as you read.
- After you have read, take another deep breath and ask God to expose to you any of the following things that may be pertinent to your life as a result of the reading.
- A sin to confess
- A prayer to repeat
- An attitude to avoid
- A command to obey
- An example to follow
- An error to avoid
- A truth to believe
- Something to be thankful for
Express yourself (Pray, Journal, Sing, etc.)
So far on this date you have mostly listened. A date in which one person does all the talking and the other person does no talking is one that will not likely lead to a flourishing relationship. Now, in your DAE with God, it is your turn to talk. End your DATE by responding to God. This is commonly called prayer. This term can often conjure up stuffy and pretentious images. Yet, prayer, in its true form, is simply talking to God. If God has spoken to you then you will likely have something to say back. Go ahead and say it. God wants to hear from you. A prayer doesn’t have to look a certain way; it simply has to be real.
Prayer can take on many forms. You may want to speak out loud to God. You may want to speak within your own thoughts (God knows your thoughts, remember). You may want to write your prayers in a journal. You might want to take a walk and ponder creation. You might want to draw a picture or write a poem. How you express yourself to God is largely determined by who you are.
Make a date
Now is as good a time as any to commit to a daily DATE with God. Right now, grab your calendar and figure out when it is going to happen. Before the day is over tell someone about your commitment and ask them to hold you accountable to keeping that DATE.