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April 24, 2013

Firsthand Experience | Day 13

Delight In Your Design

Scripture to meditate on: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14)

The following is an excerpt from Firsthand: Ditching Secondhand Religion for a Faith of Your Own by Ryan and Josh Shook.

One of the most amazing things about people is how different we all are. The two of us are both artistic, but we express our creativity in different ways. One of us is a musician; the other is a filmmaker. And you’re different from both of us. And different from everyone you live, work, or study with.

Each of us on this planet is unique by God’s design. Yet somehow—perhaps because we live in a standardized and industrialized world—it’s easy to believe we are all the same or at least very similar. And this causes big problems when it comes to knowing God.

We think that one-size-fits-all assumptions keep huge numbers of Christ followers unhappy in church. Or completely outside of it. People think they have to act in a certain approved way (there’s the checklist again) in order to serve God acceptably. And who wants to get stuck with that kind of uniformity? The truth, we believe, is that God put the desire for relationship in all of us but designed each of us to express that desire in unique ways.

God put the desire for relationship in all of us but designed each of us to express that desire in unique ways.

Let me (Ryan) give you an example of how personal differences affect the way two people choose to be close to God. My wife loves to sing praises in church. It’s one of the most intimate and passionate parts of her relationship with Christ. Now, I love music, but I’m more likely to feel that I am spending time with God when I am hiking in the mountains near our home in California. When I walk through beautiful terrain on a crisp morning, I delight in God’s presence and how He made me.

Maybe you find delight in God when you read the book of Psalms or engage in a favorite hobby. You were made to be unique, so your passions and approach to your relationship with God are going to be different from mine and those of the people around you. That doesn’t mean you can’t get close to God if you don’t love singing or hiking, but it does help explain why that intimacy and delight in God is hard to find at times.

We challenge you to discover what brings you close to God. Identify the activities you enjoy and try doing them with the intention of talking with God. If you hate the idea of being outside for more than a few minutes, then it’s probably safe to say that’s not how you’re going to get close to God. See what works for you, and ask God for His guidance.

God longs to be viewed not as a distant acquaintance but as a close friend. If your relationship with Him has lost momentum, then God doesn’t want you to kill yourself trying to complete a checklist of good spiritual disciplines. As in any meaningful relationship, there comes a point when you have to pause and focus on what truly matters. And being with Him, delighting in Him—knowing Him—is what matters most.

That’s why we challenge you to dump those one-size-fits-all assumptions that checklist religion is always based on. Forget about following the rules for now, and instead try rediscovering what first brought you joy in your relationship with Christ. When you find yourself delighting in your relationship with God, you are forming a firsthand bond that will be stronger than any checklist could ever produce.

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