Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez - in baseball these are household names. We can find out about them and their career on the internet or simply by turning on ESPN. I know there are some of you out there who know these guys and their families personally but most of us just know about them because of what we read or hear.
Even growing up in the church, that is exactly where I was with God. I had read a lot about him and heard a lot about him. I knew about him but I didn't KNOW Him.
The original Greek word for know here means to be acquainted with, to understand. It means a familiar friend. It describes a person's relationship with the true God. Growing up I thought going to church, memorizing Bible verses, learning Bible stories, and praying a simple prayer was all I had to do to know God. Don't get me wrong, those are great things that accompany knowing God, and they are a must for getting to know him better, but those things didn't build the relationship for me.
My life didn't change after praying that prayer, I still lived like I wanted to. I could talk a good talk, but I didn't walk a good walk. In other words, I had a head knowledge but not a heart knowledge. I wanted God to be in my life only to handle things when the going got tough. I wanted to take care of all the "good and fun" things myself.
Somewhere along the way in learning my Bible stories, I failed to understand what Jesus meant when He said, "Repent" (Mark 1:15). Repentance is turning from ALL those old ways and walking in a new direction with God as your guide. That is what it takes to truly know God.
I'm so grateful for the patience God had with me over the years. I refused to walk in the direction he wanted me to for quite some time. Finally I recognized my need to truly repent and I realized that just giving God parts of my life was not good enough. With God it's ALL or nothing. Today God has all of me - the good, the bad, and the ugly. I know him and he knows me. He knows my faults, failures, and deepest secrets, and still loves me like crazy. He's my God and he's still working on me. I have so far to go but with his grace and forgiveness, he will take this sin-filled life and make it beautiful.
I want to encourage you to examine yourself. Do you know him today - truly KNOW him, friend to friend, father to daughter? Or are knowing Bible stories and going to church the extent of your relationship?