“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you” Psalm 9:10 (NIV).
In various verses throughout the Bible, we are promised that if we seek God, we will find God. The journey isn’t always smooth; sometimes bumps can discourage us or even blindside us. Regardless, when we consider our relationship with God through the lens of Proverbs 3:5-6, we are encouraged not to rely on our own understanding but to trust God. Even if it doesn’t always make sense to me, I hold on to my queries even as I continue to seek God. Considering I am finite, and God is infinite, I’m comfortable with the unknown—just as God is comfortable with my wondering. Wherever we are in our faith journey, here are some ways we can grow in our relationship with God in 2020.
- Read and study a Gospel.
The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) record the life of Jesus. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection show us God’s capacity to love us so well that God would sacrificially come and be with us broken people here on earth. The Gospels also show us how to seek God and live out our faith. In fact, 1 John 2:5 encourages that “if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did” (italics mine). To live as Jesus did, we need to know how he lived by reading, studying, and then applying the Gospels to our lives.
- Establish a Sabbath.
Before I attended Seminary to prepare for ministry, I knew I needed to make sure I was holistically healthy. There was no way I could spiritually care for others if I myself was unwell. I went to counseling. I starting eating my veggies and going for walks. One of the biggest shifts for me was establishing a Sabbath rhythm. God established Sabbath (a day of rest) from the beginning of creation when God modeled rest by doing absolutely nothing on the seventh day of the week. Every week, I followed this example by setting aside a day for rest. I slept in. I had extended quiet time with God in which I did not look at the clock. I spent time with loved ones or did something I enjoyed. This rejuvenated me and gave me what I needed for the week ahead; more than that, it allowed me to be more aware of God moving and speaking in my life. I began to look forward to my unhurried, agenda-less time with God; this holy time was centered around enjoying God’s company for no other reason than my love for God, and God’s love for me. In order to do this, I had to be disciplined with the other six days of the week, so that my work was completed, and I didn’t feel the strain of other things I “should” be doing with my time.
Now, I have to be completely honest and say this precious time was long before I was a parent and even before I was married. My Sabbath rhythm looks very different today (it’s much shorter to start!), but I still take it. As seasons change, our Sabbath rhythms will change as well. The important thing is that we commit to a Sabbath that makes sense for us today and seek God in it.
- Take a solo retreat.
Block an entire day on your calendar for just you and God. If you’ve never done this before, you may want to start with a half-day first. The week or so before your retreat day, spend time praying and listening specifically about your retreat; ask God what to do with this special time you set aside, and then plan out how you will spend your time in 60-90 minute chunks. Invite close friends to pray for you as well. Consider spending some of your time in nature on a hike or a walk around a lake or at the beach. Be sure to pack water, your Bible, journal (and/or art supplies if you’re crafty like that!), phone and earphones for access to worship music, a book. The goal is simply to spend time with God. Consider doing this twice a year or once a quarter if you can.
Movement Step: Pray and pick a movement step above or come up with your own movement step that helps you grow in your relationship with God. Be sure to put whichever one you choose in your calendar and ask a friend to keep you accountable for making this step a reality.