Online dating services have proved: you don’t have to see a person to fall in love. Through heart-to-heart sharing over the internet, couples become acquainted with the likes and dislikes of each other, their opinions on a number of issues, and what brings them satisfaction in life. The format provides the opportunity to “see” who another person is before finding out what he/she looks like. (I understand one site requires five contacts back and forth before names are divulged–much less photos.)
It’s possible that couples in online relationships grow to know one another better than couples who meet face-to-face, because they communicate more and at a deeper level. (Assuming they’re being honest, of course.)
Similarly, we can grow to know and love God through heart-to-heart sharing, even though we can’t see him.
For our part, we “give God [our] whispering thoughts” (Max Lucado). Such moments happen when:
(The view from our deck, a couple of Sundays ago)
Our attention is drawn to sunbeams on mist-draped foliage, and we turn the observation into praise for God’s creative power.
Someone grabs us in an exuberant hug, and we thank God for family and friends who provide encouragement and support.
An unpleasant task is finished, and we praise him for the fortitude to see it through.
Humor comes into our lives and we laugh in response, but also in appreciation to the God of all joy.
We light evening candles that remind us the Light of the world is with us in our homes.
There is no sweeter manner of living in the world
than continuous communion with God.
–Brother Lawrence (1611-1691)
But one-sided communication doesn’t build a relationship. Listening for God’s words and watching for his works are essential. How do we do that? God rarely speaks audibly or shows himself physically. No one has seen his face (Exodus 33:20).
However, God does reveal his heart to us in a number of ways through:
The Bible. No surprise there. Its pages offer a lifetime of new discoveries about who our God is and how he works in our lives. Especially through the gospels, God speaks to us directly through his Son. We hear God’s wisdom in Jesus’ words; we see God’s love in his actions (Hebrews 1:2-3).
Other reading. Although Christian writers undoubtedly provide personal impressions from God, he sometimes speaks through secular works. Such moments often catch me off guard.
Recently I read Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones (1986). Among the many worthy morsels I wrote down, she said, “We walk through so many myths of each other and ourselves; we are so thankful when someone sees us for who we are and accepts us.”
O God, I thought. That’s describes YOU! You see more of my real self than anyone, yet you still accept me, even love me. How astounding that you, a perfect God, would envelop me in absolute love–in spite of all my flaws.
People. What a heart-lift others provide with their encouraging words, warm smiles, or comforting hugs–especially when we realize such good and perfect gifts come from God himself (James 1:17).
Creation. John Calvin once described the world of nature as God’s glorious theater. As we take note of his infinite genius on display, we learn of his ingenuity, attention-to-detail, and ability to bring together disparate parts into harmonious habitats. Our hearts fill with wonder.
Music. Sometimes I can almost feel God’s warm touch on my shoulder as he speaks comfort, strength, and joy through the power of song. (See “The Power of Song” for more on this subject.)
Notice: when God communicates with us, there’s a heart-reaction. We experience a quickening in our spirits as we recognize his truth, sense his loving attention, receive the guidance and empowerment we need, or know without a doubt he’s with us, and has everything under control.
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