Many of us know of God. This knowledge can come in varying degrees, depending on our exposure to Christianity or whether or not we grew up in church. It can range from a vague notion of God and slight recollection of Bible stories learned at a young age; to a more comprehensive knowledge of Him, the Bible, and all things church-related.
Knowledge is a beautiful thing. God created us with the capacity to learn, memorize, and grow and we should use those gifts as fuel to become all that He created us to be. We do this by pursuing and implementing knowledge. We should always seek to expand our comprehension of the things of God.
Yet, the Bible calls us to something deeper. It calls us not simply to know of God, but to actually know Him. The Hebrew word used in the Bible for the word know was the word yada which gave the connotation of deep intimacy. This word went way beyond the notion of simply knowing about someone. To know someone in this way involved a closeness, a companionship, a complete connection to the heart of the other person. In fact, this same word was also used in the Bible to explain the physical intimacy shared between a husband and a wife.
Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain. Genesis 4:1a
We can all agree that there is no greater level of intimacy than this. Yet some of us will spend our entire lives in a place where we know about God, but we don't actually know Him personally. We have facts stored up in our heads, but we don't experience all the wonders of knowing Him with with every fiber of our being. Experiencing Him as our Father, our Savior, and our Friend.
To illustrate this concept let's look at the story of Samuel. Samuel was the son of Hannah, and he grew to become one of the greatest prophets in the Old Testament. Hannah had prayed and begged God for a son, which He finally blessed her with after many long years. Hannah promised the Lord that if He gave her a son, she would dedicate him back to the service of the Lord for all of his days.
When the time was right, she did exactly that. Samuel was brought to the temple and lived there among the priests, learning everything he would need to know to grow into destiny God had prepared for him. Yet, even after many years of accumulating knowledge and learning about all the intricacies of temple service, He still hadn't experienced the Lord for Himself.
Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision. At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his own place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel, and he said, "Here I am!" and ran to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me". But he said, "I did not call; lie down again". So he went and lay down. And the Lord called again, "Samuel!" and Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." But he said, "I did not call my son; lie down again". Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 1 Samuel 3:1-7
Scholars believe at the point of this Scripture, Samuel was about 11 years old. He had been living in the temple since the age of 3 or 4. This meant that many years passed while he stored up knowledge about God, but He didn't know God in a relational way. He didn't know God's voice.
But that was about to change. Samuel eventually recognized that the Lord was speaking to him, and nothing was ever the same for him again. He grew into his destiny as a powerful man of God. Scripture says the Lord was with him always, and none of the words Samuel prophesied fell to the ground. (1 Samuel 3:19)
Friends, this type of intimacy is God's ultimate goal with each one of us. He wants us to know Him in a deeply relational way. Accumulation of facts is beneficial but truly knowing God exceeds even that. Living in relationship with Him, through Jesus Christ, is the most beautiful, wonderful, and fulfilling experience we could ever imagine. It is beyond all we could ever ask or think.
I have experienced so many blessings since becoming a follower of Jesus. Yet, the personal connection I have with Him in a day-to-day, moment-to-moment way, far surpasses them all. His personal guidance, His encouragement, His conviction which is the catalyst for change...these things are only found on this deep level of knowing.
So how do we get here? How do we move from head knowledge to heart knowledge? It isn't a complicated list of dos and don'ts. It's simple really. We get to know someone by spending time with them, by investing in the relationship. Imagine if you were dating someone and you only gave them 1 1/2 hours a week of your time (a standard church service.) This relationship would be shallow at best.
In the same way, to move beyond head knowledge and surface-level relationship, we must dedicate time to the Lord. Every day. Not in a strict, religious, check-the-box kind of way, but in a way that understands how valuable and precious this time will be. This type of dedication to spending time with God will faciliate the deep relationship He is calling us to.
Taking time to get to know God through the Bible will create in us a deep awe and love for Him that will permeate our lives. Commitment to prayer, worship, and basking in God's presence will give Him the opportunity to speak to us. It will fine-tune our ability to hear His voice. When we spend this precious time getting to know Him every day, His voice will become recognizable in our lives. Samuel became acquainted with the Lord's voice as that relationship blossomed, and we will experience the same familiarity as we take the time to nurture our relationships with the Lord.
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me". John 10:27
God is waiting to be known by us. Will we invest the time to know Him intimately? Don't settle for head knowledge when you were created for so much more!
“A little knowledge of God is worth more than a great deal of knowledge about Him.”
– J. I. Packer