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April 9, 2013

Firsthand Experience | Day 2

Secondhand Knowledge vs. Firsthand Experience

There’s a big difference between secondhand knowledge and firsthand experience.

Ever since I was a little girl, I have always been fascinated by the Grand Canyon. I read books about the Grand Canyon. I learned about the power of the Colorado River as it tears through the rock and continues to carve out the canyon.  I watched videos about the Grand Canyon. I even watched the episode of the Brady Bunch when they go to the Grand Canyon multiple times!

I knew a lot about the Grand Canyon, but up until last year, I had never experienced it for myself even though I had pestered Kerry about it for years. Last year we were at a conference in Phoenix and I convinced Kerry to drive up to the Grand Canyon for the day so I could at least stand on the rim for a few minutes.

Nothing could have prepared me for what it was like to actually walk up to the rim of the Grand Canyon it and look out over the incredible expanse that God created. I was completely overwhelmed by the beauty, majesty, and the enormity of it all!  I had a lot of secondhand knowledge about the Grand Canyon but now I was having a firsthand experience.

In the same way, you can know a lot about God and have a lot of secondhand knowledge about what God is like.  You can even know the Bible through and through.  The real question, however is, have you experience God firsthand?  Do you have a firsthand relationship with Jesus?

After Job lost everything in a time of testing and then God restored and blessed him even greater than before Job was able to realize his greatest blessing was a firsthand relationship with God.

Today’s verse to meditate on is Job 42:5 (MSG). “I admit I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand.”

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

The most important thing to know about a more personal faith is just how personal God is. We like to put it this way: a firsthand faith starts with realizing what is written on God’s hands. Look at what God says in Isaiah 49:15–16: “I will not forget you. I have engraved you on the palms of my hands” (God’s Word).

In the original context, God was talking to the people of Judah who were going to come back to Him from their exile in Babylon. But it’s also true for all prodigal sons and daughters, anyone who is feeling exiled or separated from Him. Even you.

Just think about it for a moment. The God who created the galaxies and the infinite universe has written your name on the palm of His hands! God knows your name. God knows every detail of your life. He knows the deepest longings of your heart. He knows your darkest secrets, your greatest fears, and your unspoken dreams. And He’s crazy about you! He cares deeply about every personal detail of your life.

He didn’t just doodle your name on a heavenly scratch pad—He engraved your name on His skin. God has a perma- nent tattoo of your name on His hands.

The God who has your name tattooed on His hands wants you to experience a firsthand faith so much that He came to this earth and stretched out His hands to willingly take the nails of our selfishness and sin.

Our whole aim in writing this book is to show you that there’s so much more to Christianity than living by someone else’s faith. More, too, than being good, going to church, or following the rules. It’s about a relationship with the One who fed five thousand hungry people—people just like you and me. It’s about quenching your thirst at the Source.

Jesus is the Living Water.

However, if you’re looking for six easy steps to happiness, you won’t find them in these pages. Life is way more complex than any of us will ever be able to comprehend. So we don’t claim to have all the answers. We do, however, invite you to journey with us across the bridge of faith—from a childhood faith to a grown-up, real, firsthand faith.

We spent years living with a faith that was partly our own but mostly someone else’s. You don’t have to.

Starting now, you can begin to make your life with God a very real, very personal, and absolutely motivating experience. After all, according to the dictionary definition, the word firsthand means “direct from the original source.”

That’s the kind of life you were created for, the only kind that lasts, and the only kind Jesus came to give.