You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.
-Jesus, Matthew 7:7
Over the summer my actor wife had the lead role in a local musical. Throughout the two weeks of performances, I loved quietly listening in during intermission to overhear people talk about seeing "Mary Poppins!" Children were starstruck to see her fly, hear her sing, and watch her dance and pull coat racks out of handbags.
Admittedly, my pride was a little too strong to control at certain points, and I couldn't help but lean over and whisper to the kids... "hey, guess what? I know her. I know Mary Poppins!" They looked back at me, wide eyed. Also, more than a couple times I also leaned over to the adult patrons beside me after a particularly wonderful song and whispered, "that's my wife."
It's fun to know special people. It's fun to have encounters with famous people (even if they're only famous in our spheres!). But it's a different thing altogether to look around the world, full of billions of people and full of mystery... and claim that we know God.
This is not to speak of knowing about God. I have lots of knowledge and a couple of degrees that could help me claim to know a lot about God (some might disagree!). But knowing God is something different. It's being able to say that we have relational experience and true encounters with the One who brought all things into existence.
And yet, this is our Christian conviction. That though the God of the universe is mystery, God is also knowable.
As my years of ministry approach two decades, I have learned to be less surprised by the people I meet that I sense truly know God. Sometimes they don't have much knowledge about God or the scriptures- but there is this undeniable mark of an encounter that has taken place. Often it is people who have suffered greatly. Often it is people who do not have their lives all together. But I can tell, without question, that they know God. It goes beyond information.
I am entering a season where knowing God is my deepest desire once again, for myself and those that I pastor. I am quick to look to Jesus and his teachings as a beautiful and radical way to live (it's true!). But far too often my own sermons are heavy on doing good actions, when the greatest thing that sets people free and moves their lives toward those actions is truly knowing God and experiencing the love and grace that come from encountering Christ. When people hear a story about Jesus in the scriptures, I want them to be able to whisper to themselves, under their breath with excitement..... I know him!
I don't always lean into this because when people are in dark seasons and not sensing God, a truth like this can be used to create guilt and shame. I'm not even a good enough Christian to feel God! What's wrong with me??
Friend, there is so much grace from God and so much courage in seasons of honest struggle and silence. But I believe that as we persist, we ultimately will come to sense God and know God's heart intimately.
And yes, language like I'm talking about can also be taken advantage of in the other direction, when people claim to know God and then leverage it to condemn and exclude others while elevating themselves. If that's your position, you may not know God like you claim, friend.
Yet the truth remains that Jesus invites us to be with him. That he says, seek and find. That he calls his disciples friends, not servants. This is "knowing" language. So today, sit with this overwhelmingly beautiful truth:
God is knowable.
God desires to be known by you, so that the love that you experience will set you free to live a radically alternative life in this age, and a life of absolute oneness with God in the age to come.
You can be rich or poor, joyful or grieving, assured or deconstructing, and this remains a remarkable promise. Ask and it will be given, seek and you will find, knock honestly and you'll see doors to the divine open up.
Jesus, draw near to me, because I want to know you more.