How I Came to Know God Personally
I once heard a friend make a very profound statement which has stayed with me ever since. He said, 'God has no grandchildren!' As I pondered his statement, I wondered what exactly did he mean by that? I had never before heard anyone make such a statement.
As a child I was raised in a religious home. We went to church occasionally, but for the most part I got little out of it. I believed in God's existence, but my perception of God was one of a distant observer who was irrelevant to my day-to-day life. In fact, I can vividly remember as a teenager, my older brother and I quietly talking in bed on Sunday mornings until 10:20am when we would come bounding out of our room ready for a day of fun. You see, we knew that by 10:20am that there was no way our family could get ready in time for church.
In 1977, I graduated high school and started as a freshman at Tennessee Tech, a small engineering school in Cookeville, Tennessee. Throughout my undergraduate years, I never went to church or thought about God until my senior year. I met my future wife Micki that year and her family also lived in Cookeville. They often encouraged us to join them for church. While we didn't really like it, Micki and I would occasionally join them for church (mostly out of obligation). However, there was something different about her parents. Church was more than an obligation to them.
After graduating with my Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Mechanical Engineering from Tennessee Tech, I went to graduate school and earned my Master of Science (MS) and Doctorate (Ph.D.) degrees and accepted a position as an Assistant Professor at Purdue University. By this time, Micki and I were married and actively involved in a church because of the influence of her family, but God still had no direct impact on my daily life. I was mostly going through the motions of a Christian life.
During this time, my primary focus was on my professional career. I had experienced great personal success as a faculty member in securing grants and contracts, winning national awards, and conducting and publishing my research. My life was largely consumed by my career as I spent long hours and weekends at the office. Ultimately, it was my success that helped me see my true need. I had a wonderful wife, two beautiful children, a house, two cars, a dog, a cat, and three fish. I was a leader in church, involved in many religious activities. I seemed to have everything, yet I still wasn't happy. WHY? There was still something missing in my life!
In spring 1994, three special events profoundly changed my life: I attended a Christian conference, I was participating in a Bible study, and our church was in the middle of a special program. Through these three events God was trying to teach me about what was missing in my life. I finally began to realize that life wasn't about grants, contracts, and research. The single most important thing in life is my need to have a relationship with God! God taught me that not only was it possible to have a close personal relationship with Him, but He desired it more than anything in the world! I never before realized that it was possible to have a personal relationship with God. I am sure that many people must have shared this with me over the years. Why had I not understood this before now? I finally understood why God has no grandchildren! I realized that the only way to have a relationship with God is to know Him personally as a son or daughter. I cannot know God through my parents, friends, or others ' only one-on-one through Jesus Christ. On April 4, 1994 in the middle of our church's special program, I put my trust in Jesus Christ, that He is God's Son and that He came to this earth to die on the Cross as the penalty for my sins so that I can be forgiven.
My life with Christ certainly has not been perfect by any means, but the difference Jesus makes in my life is the joy and fulfillment that comes from having a personal relationship with Him. I finally realized that I had been trying to fill the emptiness in my life with my career. Power, prestige, and recognition were at the top of my agenda. While I still have selfish times, God has a unique way of revealing these imperfections in my life and slowly changing my heart to be more like Jesus. I also realized that religious activities are not the same as a relationship with God. Relationships are now my priority (God, family, and friends). My career is still important, but it is not my life. I still don't always keep my priorities straight, but God has a unique way of reminding me of His priorities for my life.
Like me, you may have tried every 'humanly' way possible to seek that ultimate joy in life (power, prestige, recognition, money, family, friends, etc.). You may have experienced phenomenal success and at times felt the satisfaction of a successful venture, only to have that feeling quickly wane, leaving an empty void. Perhaps your 'worldly success' is starting to crumble and you are beginning to wonder if there is something more to life. If you sense emptiness in your life, I want to challenge you to give God a chance to meet that need. Maybe you have been going through the motions of religious activities, trying to live your parents' or spouse's faith (i.e., trying to live as a grandchild of God). I promise you God will fill that missing void if you seek a personal relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.
In my study of the Bible, God has taught me three main things about knowing Him:
1. Admit - I am not perfect (I have sin in my life) and no matter how hard I try I can never live up to God's standard ' perfection! (Romans 3:23)
2. Trust ' I believe that Jesus Christ is God's Son and that He came to this earth to die on the Cross as the penalty for my sins so that I can be forgiven. (Romans 6:23)
3. Commit - If I turn from my sins and place my trust in Jesus Christ, He promises to forgive me of my sins (Romans 10:9). God asks me to commit my life to Him and His plan, and He promises an abundant life (John 10:10).
Trusting Jesus as Lord of your life is easy. A simple prayer is all it takes. Something like this:
Dear God, I believe you sent your Son, Jesus, to die for my sins so I can be forgiven. I'm sorry for my sins and I want to live the rest of my life the way you want me to. Please put your Spirit in my life to direct me. Amen.
If you are thinking of accepting Jesus into your life, I would welcome the opportunity to share more with you about my experiences in coming to know God personally and would be happy to answer any questions you may have. If have already made a decision to accept Jesus into your life, please let me know. I would love to celebrate that decision with you.