Guide to Goodness

Three Tips to Grow Closer to God

Have you found it as tricky as I have to navigate a meaningful and intimate relationship with God?

When I was a child, I felt a closeness to God which led to a peaceful heart.  I have fond memories of singing “Yes, Jesus Loves Me” and other simple acts of praise that were a normal course of my day.  I even wrote my own Psalms giving my trust and heart to Him.  As I moved into high school and charting my own path of self-reliance, I started chipping away at this sweet relationship and began to hide the gifts I had been given. 

In my adulthood, I was checking the faith box as faith was always a strong part of my identity.  But faith I learned is different than a dynamic relationship.   I had been drawn from being Christian to being a Catholic Christian and part of the Universal Church.  But this was more about the intellectual side of my faith.  I was going to church, teaching religious education classes, and doing all the right things, but I had a divided heart.  I found my heart firmly entrenched in what the world defined as success and my heart was restless for more.  It was when I lost my inner peace, I realized things had to change.  I started making space for silence and decided to get out of my own way.

As God’s Beloved and chosen one, I know my heart will always be restless until I rest in Him.  I have been down the path of trying to do life on my own terms, looking to relationships, work or things to satisfy the yearning inside me for wholeness and to tell me I’m good enough.  It does not work.  Showing my love for my creator starts with keeping the promises I made to Him through baptism.  

 You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Focus on His truth, Matthew 22:37-38

All our rights and responsibilities are built on these two great commandments.  Jesus Himself said that “the whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments” so it is important that we take them to heart so that we can understand the role that we have as God’s people.  We are His chosen ones, adopted into his family by baptism.

What does it mean to love God?

God is many things to us.  He is creator, Abba, provider, protector, healer, Messiah, Shepherd, The Way, Ruah, Advocate, Giver of Life, Comforter.  He is our father, master, savior, king.  Ultimately, to love Him means we fully recognize and acknowledge that He knows what is best for us and be willing to surrender our lives completely to Him.  We need to come to a place in our life and heart where we make the decision that He is in charge.  We realize the truth is, “I need a Savior”.  Once we accept this, there are three steps to help grow in your relationship.

Step one:  Decide. 

A decision is action.  This is a concrete step we can take to start developing a personal relationship with God. We cannot fully appreciate God’s power and glory if we do not actively seek Him.  He is yearning for us to recognize Him and it breaks His heart when we do not.  He adores us and wants us to participate in the cycle of grace, accepting His love and gifts and bringing that love to others. 

Grace means “gift”.  It’s a participation in the actual life of God. It describes the offering of undeserved mercy.  It is unearned favor, originating in the heart of God.  It is offered to us lavishly, but we have to receive it.  We have to empty our hands of achievements and self-justifications in order to be able to accept grace from Him.

Lisa Brenninkmeyer, Founder, Walking with Purpose

It is challenging to get your head around having a personal relationship with a Spirit.  For me, I found that was the exact problem.  I was trying to get my head around the concept rather than opening my heart to the possibility of true love. 

Our relationship with God is like any other relationship where you get out of it what you put into it.  With our earthly relationships, we spend time with people and develop intimacy and trust over time.  We then share our heart, listen to their heart, and grow in love.  A relationship with God is the same but we need to remember that His ways are not our ways.  We need to grow in our ability to see, hear and feel His presence since we know He is always with us.  By inviting Him into our life, His will inform our actions, words, and thoughts, directing our hearts in love and giving us peace.  Peace is not the absence of trouble; it is the presence of what is good regardless of external circumstances.  It is a state of contentment and security, unaltered by chaos and suffering.   

Step two:  Open your heart.

Opening my heart to God can be as simple as saying, Jesus come into my heart, and then taking a few deep breathes and be still.  If you are ready to dive deeper into learning how to bring peace and order into your hectic life, check out this two minute video to learn more about a wonderful Walking With Purpose bible study, Opening Your Heart.

Three:  Focus and put God first.

I am learning that there is nothing more important than committing ourselves fully to our relationship with God.  It must be the highest priority in my life for the rest of life to work.  Through this humble action of surrender, we recognize that our lives are not our own.  We begin defining our identity in Him as a Beloved daughter rather than the exhausting way the world defines us.  Take a minute to read this beautiful poem on how God See Us.  We slowly begin to realize that everything we do impacts our relationship with our Heavenly Father. 

When we learn how to love God, we learn how to love. 

As we learn God’s perfect love, we begin participating in grace and realize that everything we have is a gift.  We learn to give grace to ourselves and others, offering love to our neighbors and being His light in the world.

As we saw recently through our Lord’s Passion, Jesus’ last breath was honoring God his Father.  Jesus reveals to us that Our Father is perfect love, and He is the way, the truth, and the light.  Our divine God became human in Jesus, bridging divinity and humanity.  His life shows us how to live and to love.  And we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit which lives inside us and helps us to grow the divine within us.

As humans we overcomplicate things.  Even good things can distract us from what we are trying to accomplish and take us off course in growing our relationship with God.  I have found that life works better when I keep it simple. 

Do you want to have true love in your life and an intimate relationship with God?  If so, make that decision, open your heart, and put God first in your life.  These daily choices will yield big results over time I promise! 

Over the next week, I will be sharing a daily idea to help you grow closer to God.   

May we be Smitten with His Goodness,

Cynthia

2 thoughts on “Three Tips to Grow Closer to God”

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