When I was in high school, my good friend, Kim, was dating a boy named Daniel. Daniel was a nice guy who had a friend that Kim said was a nice guy. She wanted me to meet this nice guy.
She wanted me to meet Wade.
I didn’t know Wade. I’d seen him around school. He was a good looking guy with his blonde hair and blue eyes and laid back country boy mannerisms and dress. Kim knew him and said he was a good guy. Kim’s boyfriend knew him and was friends with him. That’s essentially all I knew about him. But, if anyone had said, “You know Wade Wyatt, right?” I would have answered affirmatively because I did, indeed, know who he was.
Then, one night, I spent the night with Kim, and since she wanted Daniel to come over but not make me feel like a third wheel, they invited Wade along, too. So, Daniel and Wade came over to watch movies with us, and I met Wade for myself for the first time. To be honest, I don’t really remember much about that first meeting other than that he was really cute and spent time talking to me while Kim & Daniel hid in the bathroom across the hall from her room so Wade and I could talk alone because they were sure we’d hit it off….or they didn’t want either of us to be a third wheel while they were around?
From there, notes were passed. Easy jokes were made in the hallways. Then, he took me home from school one day and met Dad, a meeting that totally could have gone awry because I hadn’t obtained permission for this guy who was a complete stranger to my father to bring me home from school. We went on our first date, and then, turning into the double doors from 4th hall in our high school, Wade twisted his fingers into mine and asked me if I would be his girlfriend.
It was all very sweet in a cheesy-corny-after-school-special-high-school sort of way, which is exactly what I love about our story.
That was in December of 2001. My dad didn’t talk to him much initially because he said, and I quote, “He’ll only be around for a couple of weeks.”
You see, Dad assumed that ours would be like most high school relationships. We’d gush about and over each other for a short time, but the second it got hard, we’d break up.
Nearly 17 years later, I think Dad may have been mistaken….
So, what was different that has us still together, hands intertwined while we sit on our couch watching television together?
We took time to get to know one another. We studied one another. We listened to one another. We learned about each other. Over time, we have grown more and more committed to sticking by one another. None of that growth could have happened, though, if we didn’t purposefully take the time to get to know one another. And I mean really KNOW one another.
All things have been entrusted to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son desires to reveal him.
Matthew 7:7: 7-8
Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Do you know what’s beautiful about my relationship with Wade? After we met that first time, he desired to know more about me, and I desired to know more about him. Likewise, I wanted him to know more about me, and he wanted me to know more about him. There was a mutual desire and longing that blossomed into our marriage today.
Do you know what is more beautiful than that?
God already knew me before He formed me. He knew my strong points and my pitfalls. He knew of my triumphs and my failures. He already knew me. And, then? Then, He still, knowing all He does about me, He still longed for me to know Him. Matthew tells us that we cannot know the Father unless the Son desires to reveal Him to us. And, Jesus wants all the world to know the Father. The desire and longing for us to simply KNOW Him is there, and all we need to do is seek it out.
Matthew tells us that if we ask, seek, and knock, we will find. The thing that Jesus so wants us to seek and ask for is to know God. He wants to reveal the Father to us. He wants to glorify the Father, and there is no better way to glorify God than to reveal Him to us so that we can KNOW Him. Now, when I say know God, I mean really, truly, in our heart of hearts, on a personal level, as an individual when we are alone with our thoughts K-N-O-W know Him. That, my dear friends, is the distinction.
That, that right there, is what made my heart pound when I read my Bible this Saturday. I sat at my kitchen table reading in the Gospels…..FINALLY….and I was taken aback by what it means to KNOW God. Let me share with you what set my heart on fire this week.
When I read The Parable of the Sower, the nerve that was struck had nothing to do with Wade and me. Instead, it had everything to do with God and me. By the time I’d read the parable the third time, I went back to Matthew’s account of it, because I liked it best, and highlighted in my Bible.
My heart and my brain began conversing with my soul. I began forming what words I could write to convey exactly what I was feeling. Feeling so overwhelmed with God’s wonder and power in His Word, I made a quick Facebook post.
Those words “truly KNOW Him” mean the absolute most. I began thinking about the difference between knowing who someone is, having met someone, having conversed with someone, and KNOWING someone. I thought about how I talk with so many people in my day-to-day happenings but don’t really KNOW them. This blog post was forming… and then my family went to visit my father-in-law and the moment of writing passed.
Then, do you know what happened? God politely tapped me on the shoulder this morning in church. He tickled my heart in that way that makes it race and beat the tears up to my eyelashes so they spill out.
Brother JD’s sermon was pulled straight from everything i’d experienced while reading yesterday. And I mean STRAIGHT FROM IT. Y’all, he even gave the example of knowing ABOUT our governor but not KNOWING him!!! You can’t make this up! And coincidence is a bunch of baloney! God did that! In fact, Brother JD had a different sermon planned until last night. Last night, when I was having my nerve striking moment, Brother JD scrapped his original sermon plan and went with exactly what was on my heart.
Let me repeat myself.
GOD DID THAT!!
As Brother JD spoke in church, I’m certain my mouth didn’t actually sit in my lap, but it sure felt like it did. It was as if God opened JD’s mouth and spoke back to me in complete and audible fashion everything He was speaking to my heart just yesterday. The more Brother JD spoke, the more shallow and uneven my breaths came as my heart raced in my chest. God was reminding me of how much He wants me to KNOW Him. He was reminding me of how much He wants us all to KNOW Him.
So, let’s revisit this parable that set my heart on fire.
Matthew 13 3-9
“Then he told them many things in parables, saying ‘Consider the sower who went out to sow. As he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seed fell on rocky ground where it didn’t have much soil, and it grew up quickly since the soil wasn’t deep. But when the sun came up, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it. Still other seed fell on good ground and produced fruit: some a hundred, some sixty, and some thirty times what was sown. Let anyone who has ears listen.’“
This is a parable told by Jesus as he sat in a boat talking to the people on the shore. Jesus later explained his parable to the disciples stating that it was like “When anyone hears the word…” (Matthew 13:19). The Word is what is sown into the hearts of people. The hearts of people show the conditions into which the Word is sown.
It is a parable I’ve heard time and time again in my life. It is a parable I encountered this past week while I was doing my (mostly) daily Bible reading.
Y’all, when I say it struck a nerve, there is no way I could possibly be hyperbolic. I don’t know that words on a screen can adequately convey exactly what I was feeling. It was akin to when I watch Whoa Susannah start a video and say, “Y’all, a word has done come over me.”
Hearing this story I’ve heard so many times before struck a nerve that reverberated throughout my body. My heart pounded in my chest and tears welled up in my eyes. Then, because I’m using a chronological Bible reading plan, I read the same parable again in Luke and once more in Mark.
THREE TIMES IN A ROW.
It was a heart pounding kind of joy that is difficult to explain but glorious to feel.
And here’s why….
When I met Wade for the first time at Kim’s house, I received him with all the giddiness of a teenage girl meeting a new cute boy. I was overjoyed to have spoken with him. Dad assumed that our relationship would be like that of many teenage couples who, because they have no roots, their relationship is short-lived because of distress.
Yet, Wade and I took time to nurture our relationship. We spent hours on the phone. Yes, I said hours. And, that was a lofty feat since our numbers were long distance for one another. We invested in calling cards since this was before cell phones and our parents would have strangled us if we had a huge long distance bill.
Let me paint a picture for you.
My bedroom was downstairs at Dad’s house. It was across a small hall from an unfinished portion of the basement. The floor was bare concrete, and the drywall was hung but unfinished. I would be in the laundry room floor alternating between laying on my stomach, leaning against the wall, or sitting with my legs folded in on one another like a Kindergartner on the carpet for calendar time with the phone nestled in my lap. We’d spend hours talking. What in the world we talked about, I don’t know because now, when he’s gone every third night for his 24 hour shift at the fire house, we’re talked out in about 5 minutes. Yet, we talked. And talked. And talked. And talked. He will likely give me side eye later for admitting this, but we even did the whole “You hang up first. No you hang up first” back and forth dialogue at the end of our phone calls that lengthened them until a parent was telling us we HAD to get off the phone.
It was in those quiet, personal, and intimate moments the soil of our relationship was tilled and deepened. Through every conversation we had, our roots lengthened and strengthened. Because we took the time to learn about one another, our soil was deep and good and enabled us to weather the times the sun scorched us. We were able to overcome petty teenage arguments. In fact, those petty times helped strengthen us even more so that we’ve been able to overcome less petty adult arguments and disagreements. None of it, however, could have been or could continue to be possible if we didn’t spend time with another. If we didn’t value one another. If we didn’t care about knowing one another. If we didn’t devote ourselves to one another and the preservation of our relationship. We had to KNOW each other to care that much, period. And, KNOWING each other required spending quality time together.
This analogy holds true for mine and Wade’s relationship. However, the truth that is there in that story of our relationship holds stronger and truer for another relationship of mine. A relationship far more important than mine and Wade’s.
The relationship between me and my Redeemer, my Master, my Savior, my Friend, my Jesus, my Lord.
When God’s Word is sown into our hearts, what happens depends on the soil of our hearts. It is the second scenario, the second soil, that gave me pause.
“Other seed fell on rocky ground where it didn’t have much soil, and it grew up quickly since the soil wasn’t deep. But when the sun came up, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away.” – Matthew 13:5-6
Jesus took time to explain this section later in Matthew 13. He said “And the one sown on rocky ground — this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. But he has no root and is short-lived. When distress or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he falls away.”
Different parts of this hit home to me. Rocky ground could be any person’s rocky past or rocky present. Those rocky pasts could make the opportunity to accept the Word difficult but not impossible. Unlike the seed tossed by the road, this seed had an opportunity to be sown and cultivated into a plant. Not only that, Jesus himself pointed out it was “immediately received with joy.” Like so many with rocky pasts, when the Word is heard, it brings such immediate joy and hope because it is full of joy and hope. However, without roots, it can’t withstand trials. People with those rocky pasts often haven’t had the opportunity to have the soil of their hearts broken and tilled and prepared for the seed of the Word. As a result, without those deep and sturdy roots, the plant that stands after hearing the Word is scorched and cannot recover.
Upon reading this part of the parable, I began thinking of what produces good soil and good ground. I thought immediately of other people who help to break that ground and till that soil. I thought of the church and friends and family who are believers. When we go to church and Sunday School, our souls are fed by hearing the Word preached and taught and discussed and studied. Spending time with believing family and friends gives us a support group and others to lean on when we are scorched by trials. These people help to nurture us and show us tender care that helps us recover. These people are important to our spiritual journey and growth, but it was my cousin’s comment on my Facebook post that opened my eyes to exactly what my heart was thinking.
Jamie pointed out the fine balance we believers are called to. While community in Christ is important, it isn’t everything. In the end, our relationship with Christ is personal and private and highly individualistic. Therefore, we must not only nurture our relationship with Christ in a communal aspect. It must also be cultivated in a private and personal manner. Jamie’s comment made me realize how much I’d grown to love my time in the Word each day.
If we are to truly KNOW our Lord, we must spend some up close and personal time with Him.
With Wade, I was introduced to him in a communal environment, and that is where our relationship began. The community of a friend’s home and the hallways at high school gave me a safe place to begin to get to know him. However, it was those private, personal, LONG talks with him on the phone where I began to really KNOW Wade.
It should be no different with our Lord.
While spending time with others who love Him often brings us into His presence, it cannot stop there. Knowing what others know about Him isn’t enough. We should take time to have long talks with Him, long talks we cannot wait to start and don’t want to end, talks in which we yearn and love to learn more about Him.
My talks with God in which I learn about Him should be as long as my talks with Wade where I sat in the laundry room floor. I should look so forward to learning about God that I am willing to pay whatever for a calling card so we can talk more often. My talks with God should be so enthralling and enjoyable that I want to tell Him to hang up first because I just can’t bare to do so. I should be willing to put more effort and interest into knowing my Lord than I did into knowing my husband.
I began to realize that I didn’t yearn to only know the public Wade, the Wade others knew. I wanted to know Wade for myself and by myself. I should have that same desire for knowing God. I should want to KNOW him for myself.
So, what does getting to know God look like if it’s not just going to church and Sunday School?
Prior to this past year I would have given a very staid and cursory answer of “Pray and read the Bible.”
That answer, however, is NOT staid and cursory, not if you do it right. Prior to March this year, I don’t know that I fully understood what prayer and reading your Bible really and truly meant. But, oh how that has changed! That change is exactly why those verses shook me to my core.
As a believer, the Word had been sown in me a long time ago. I was withstanding being scorched okay, but the fruit I was producing wasn’t many times greater than what was sown. I was depending upon the church and my circle of believers to produce my good ground and soil. Brother JD has been challenging the members at our church to read our Bible through in a year for some time now. I always shrugged it off. I didn’t need to do that. In fact, I didn’t have the time to do that. I was fine. I read my Bible on Sundays during Sunday School and listened to him teach during church. I sporadically cracked it open for different reasons. I was fine, and reading it through in a year was totally unnecessary.
OH HOW WRONG I WAS!!!
After listening to a podcast, I thought I would try reading through the Bible in a year. I started reading. I’ve seen the beauty and magnificence of creation. I’ve witnessed God’s anger in Noah’s time and pride and confidence in His children with Job. I’ve seen how God works all things to His good through Joseph. I’ve seen his mercies and miracles and wonders and grace and justice with His Israelite children. I’ve been front row as He had faith in His children such as Joshua, Ruth, Esther, and David. I’ve witnessed His patience and faith through the times of the Judges and His faithfulness during the times of the different Kings. I’ve experienced His wrath and justice through the prophets. I’ve felt the helplessness and hopelessness of the people from the prophets. And, FINALLY, I’m experiencing the hope of Christ as I’ve made it into the New Testament. As I’ve said before, there’s a chance I won’t make my year deadline, but the time frame isn’t what is important. Spending time with God and KNOWing Him is what matters.
Each time I sit down to read the gift of the Word, I spend time getting to know God. That Bible in front of me is my calling card to a God who isn’t as long distance as our world leads us to believe and we sometimes allow ourselves to believe. The Bible is my avenue for true and heartfelt prayer in which I invite God to do more talking than I ever used to. These times are not boring, staid, cursory moments of “pray and read.” They are long, heartfelt, and inspiring moments in which I want to linger and tell God I’m not ready to hang up yet.
Although I’ve known God and not just known about God for a while now, I haven’t KNOWN Him like I do now that I’m spending this type of time with Him. My heart is better prepared for His Word. I pray that the fruit I’m producing is sweeter and more plentiful than it was before.
However, good ground and soil can stop producing if it is not tended.
Wade and I have spent time knowing each other. We still take time to talk and know one another as we grow. However, we’ve had times in our marriage where we have felt distant because one or both of us weren’t putting in the time and effort to continue to KNOW and be devoted to the other in the ways we know we should. Likewise, if I don’t continue to spend time in God’s Word seeking Him out, I grow distant from Him. And, that is where it is so different from my marriage.
Wade and I have both been guilty of distancing ourselves from the other. God, however, is unlike us. He is constant and steady. When there is distance between God and me, it is always my fault. It always because I am choosing not to spend my time continuing to KNOW Him and show my devotion to Him. In those moments and seasons of life, I’ve let my ground grow hard and dry. I’ve neglected it, and I must be diligent to keep my soil turned, my ground watered, and my seed fertilized. I can only do that by spending time with God. In the same way I must continue talking to my husband and understanding him and seeking him out, I must also stay in the Bible and pray faithfully.
I heard about Wade from a friend. I knew about him. Then, I spent some time with him and other people. Yet, it wasn’t until I took the time to talk to him and learn about him from him that I really KNEW him.
Well, I have a good friend I’d love for you to know. I can introduce you, if you’d like. We can spend some time with Him together, which I highly recommend. I even have other friends whom I know would love to tell you about Him and how great He is. But, if you really want the awesome benefit of His friendship, you should really take the time to get to KNOW him for yourself. I have a calling card you can use that never runs out of minutes. That calling card is the Bible. My friend is Jesus. Would you like to KNOW Him like I do?