By Tamra Dalbey
I am curious why it is that I can’t study the Word for very long before I feel the need to shift into worship. Ever been there? Like right in the middle of learning more of God’s character, the one thing my soul needs is to pause and say thank you! There are times my brain is so full of his goodness, that I need a moment to process and just be with him.
Our pursuit is the Person who wrote the Word. He takes what is written in the Book and writes it on our hearts (Jer 31:33). I can not afford to be a Christian who relies only on knowledge found in Scripture… as much as I can’t afford to be Spirit-filled but not grounded in truth.
God wants us to worship in spirit and in truth.
But it is only by encounter (relationship) that I no longer apply His truth to my life… but He becomes my life. It’s a perspective shift that is the most precious gift. When I no longer talk about him in the third person but he becomes to me MY Lord, MY savior, MY friend, MY God.
Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28) Jesus showed Thomas his wounds, and he encountered him in such a personal way that this response just flowed out from Thomas’ soul. In that moment something broke open in Thomas… like for the first time he understood that Jesus wasn’t just God, He was his God— his Passover Lamb. Jesus didn’t confront him with disappointment, shocked by his unbelief. He confronted Him with love. And it led Thomas to make Jesus his own: He didn’t say, “oh Lord, oh God!” but rather, “MY Lord, MY God!”
This is for me! I am the Thomas in this story!
When we encounter Jesus like this, we step into something so much bigger than instruction of righteousness. We actually step into righteousness. This encounter is enough to turn the most self-serving person into a pilgrim living for an unseen King. And it’s only by a work of the Spirit.
I love how Moses encountered God:
“So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend.” (Exodus 33:11)
Here we see intimacy in even Old Testament communion. Beautiful. But how much better do we have it!? We can now have close, vulnerable conversation with God… because his wrath has been dealt with. We don’t have to fear we’ll approach him in the wrong way. Jesus has blown open our access to the Father. In 2 Cor 3:12-18, Paul talks about how Jesus has removed the veil from our face and how we can now come boldly to meet with God.
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor 3:18)
Did you catch that last part? It’s by the Spirit that we have this unveiled communion. It’s easy to overcomplicate something that God wants us to accept as little children. It’s time we simplify the process and just come. Just show up, in faith, and let him do the rest.
Don’t miss out on conversation with God — the back and forth. Interaction must happen for you to know him and to have him know you. When we let him in and let him speak, something out of this world happens: His world collides with ours. The unseen world touches that of the seen. Here’s the mystery: it’s Christ in us, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:26-27). Do you know God like this? How he waits for you! If we really were to know how much he loves us, and what joy awaits our time together, we wouldn’t delay meeting with him. God, reveal your heart to people!
Thank you that you already have— on the cross. Remind us, teach us all over again.
So, to circle back to my initial question about why I can only study the Word so long before I’m compelled to worship… I think the answer is simply (but profoundly) because he is drawing me to himself. Because he longs for relationship with me, and he knows I NEED relationship with him. There are no counterfeits or substitutions— not even religion. We can be students of the Bible and quote the verses, but without communion with God we are missing out on what Jesus paid for. It’s important for us to remember that he isn’t just drawing us to a place (Heaven)… he is drawing us to a Person (our Father). Christianity is not mainly about the really amazing destination to come… but more about the relationship with the One who has gone to prepare it for us. He is our prize, our reward. He’s everything. And he is excellent company.
I have this annoying crack in my finger that will not heal. It’s from eczema, and it’s right at the joint in my finger, so it pops open every time my hands are dry. I have tried everything to heal it— even super glue— with no lasting deliverance. The only thing I find that works is to avoid all irritants (which is tough cause my hands live in dishwater!) and to let them rest. The same could be said for our souls. There are a lot of believers walking around who need healing. We need to avoid internal irritants (to take every thought captive) but more than anything we need to get rest in Jesus. Encounter with him is our rest. There he takes our heavy yoke of unworthiness and disappointment and trades it with his light yoke of forgiveness and righteousness. He renews our minds by his Word. We need an ongoing “blood transfusion”, applying the blood of Jesus to our condemnation— daily. This happens in his presence. And the result is true healing, real deliverance.
There’s a second part to Exodus 33:11, which I think is so key:
“When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.”
Lord, make us like Joshua… who long after the meeting was over, wouldn’t leave your presence. Put in us a desire to remain with you— to abide in you. Foster in us a child-likeness that makes us want to cling to our Abba; never leaving our Refuge of absolute safety. Lord, that we wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less. Because “In Your presence is fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11). And once we’ve tasted of that kind of relationship— where the King of all Creation becomes our most intimate Friend— that nothing would stop us from seeking your face. May we see you like Thomas did, as OUR Lord and OUR God.
“You have said, ‘Seek my face.’ My heart says to you, ‘Your face, LORD, do I seek.’” (Psalm 27:8)