Personal, Not Provided

As much as it hurts my teacher-heart to say this, I haven’t carried with me into adulthood many life lessons learned in the classrooms of my high school teachers. Granted, I definitely have used many of the skills I learned over the years, especially the ones from my English classes, but I just don’t remember many snippets of wisdom passed down to me by my teachers. (Disclaimer: I feel 10000% certain this is on me, not them.) There is one little tidbit, however, that stuck with me for one reason or another. In my senior English class, while discussing Wuthering Heights, our discussion veered toward the topic of marriage. I don’t remember much of what was said, but I distinctly remember our teacher telling us that no one could ever explain to anyone else what marriage is like. She said it was just one of those things you had to experience for yourself to fully understand. Again, I’m not sure why that stuck with me, but after getting married and experiencing several years of married life–high highs and low lows–I decided she was incredibly accurate. If you haven’t ever been married, no amount of explanation would ever give you a full, complete understanding. To grasp it, you’ll just have to experience it for yourself. I feel certain that this is true for many, many things in life: childbirth, parenthood in general, parenting a teen (please take a moment and begin praying for us now), skydiving, losing a parent, winning a gold medal, and the list goes on and on. 

In many ways, our walk with God is much like this. While others can help us understand the Bible better and know more about God’s truth and character than we might on our own, no one can get to know God for us. No one can add intimacy to our walk with Jesus; we must do this for ourselves. We must put one foot in front of the other and move in small steps forward WITH OUR OWN FEET to really understand what a relationship with God is like. We cannot grow spiritually through someone else’s work. And this isn’t just my “two cents” worth. We see the downside of not being the one in direct conversation with God at various times throughout the Bible, starting with Adam and Eve. 

Take Genesis 2:15-17 for example. Here, God has just made Adam and is situating him as He’d have him be, providing instruction and guidance for how to exist. It states, “The Lord took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it. And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.” Of course God doesn’t mean that one bite and Adam will drop dead. He’s simply indicating what we now know: with that one bite, the sin of disobedience would be birthed, and the perfect paradise in which Adam exists would crumble under the formation of sin (i.e. death). 

It’s important to note that in these verses, only Adam exists. There is no Eve yet, because it’s not until verses 21-23 that God constructs her from Adam’s rib. So if we mathematicians believe A + B = C, then it’s a safe assumption that because God instructed Adam to avoid eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil at a time when Eve wasn’t around yet, it must’ve been Adam who informed Eve of this rule. You tracking with me? Hang in there, a point is coming soon I promise! But before making my point, I’d like to back up my claim that God’s rule not to eat the forbidden fruit was secondary information to Eve. We see this later in Genesis, in chapter 3, when Eve and the serpent are talking. The cunning serpent twists the words of God, and in an effort to correct him, Eve says, ““We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. 3 But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die’” (vs 2). Did you catch that? In God’s original instructions to Adam, He says absolutely nothing about abstaining from touching the tree. His only demand was that Adam not EAT the fruit. Now it’s possible that Eve just tossed that in there, but seeing as how lying was serpent-only territory and not something Adam and Eve did (yet), it’s more likely that Adam gave Eve that instruction in an effort to communicate the seriousness of the situation surrounding the eating of that special tree’s fruit. 

Okay, now it’s get-t0-the-point time…YAY!!!! Imagine for a moment that Eve herself had had a personal one-on-one conversation with God, like Adam did, in which He’d spoken directly to her of the importance of steering clear of the fruit of that tree. Do you think she would have caved so quickly to the wily ways of the snake? I think it’s highly doubtful, because when you talk to God for yourself, when you and He have such an intimate relationship that you’re able to hear Him for yourself, His words and His directives root deep down into your being, allowing His Holy Spirit to work more powerfully in your life and help you make safer, God-ordained decisions. 

We all know the blessing of an excellent preacher or a friend who speaks Scripture to us and helps us see how to walk in the ways of the Lord. But that cannot be all we get, friends. What’s going to happen in your life when Satan and his lies show up at your door, questioning all you thought you knew, and, like Eve, you’ve only really gotten to know God and His Truth through somebody else? How is that preacher or that friend or that Instagram account that always posts pretty Scriptures going to help you stand up against the spiritual attack from a VERY prepared and previously successful opponent? It has to be personal. Your relationship with God, your intimacy with Him, has to come from the one-on-one time. Your understanding of God, of His ways and His words and His works MUST be personal; it cannot be provided and stand firm time after time. Trust what you saw happen with Eve. She really meant well, and she tried hard. But when it came down to it, because her knowledge of God’s instructions weren’t personal but were provided to her secondhand, she wasn’t strong enough to stand up to the schemes of the enemy. Don’t be an Eve, friend. Decide today that spending time with God ON YOUR OWN is worth it. Don’t wrack up a spiritual loss because you refused not to be spoonfed your walk with Jesus. Having a personal relationship with Him is one of those things like marriage and parenthood: no words are going to do it justice. This one you’ll have to experience for yourself. Pray with me, please. 

Dear Lord, thank You so much for the many, many blessings in my life and the many times You’ve made Yourself known to me. Father, I want to rely less on someone else’s accounting of You and more on what I know because of our personal relationship. Help me, please, God, to get to know You for myself on a much deeper level, and help my closeness with You bolster me anytime I am pressed in upon by Satan and his lies and schemes. Teach me Your heart, Lord, and Your Truth, that I might know it all for myself instead of it having to be told to me by others. Encourage me with good preaching and Word-based social media, but help me not to rely solely on those things when it comes to You. I want You to be very personal to me, God. Thank You for hearing my prayer. I love You, and it’s in Jesus’s name that I pray. Amen.