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My relationship with God started off being rooted in my fear of going to hell. I thought I had to be perfect. I must pray my structured prayer when I wake up and when I go bed with my eyes closed, and knees bent at a flawless 90 degree angle. Every church service, I must attend. I must immerse myself in the Bible before bed. I must diligently follow my list of don’ts: don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t swear, don’t show too much skin, don’t engage in anything sexual, don’t listen to worldly music, etc. The keyword here is “must.” To me, failure to do those things, meant going to hell. I lived everyday walking on egg shells to ensure I don’t upset God. I was literally scared of Him.

Then one day, I slipped in my walk. I had a “holier than thou” complex so it was hard for me to fathom how I could do such thing. So what did I do? I pulled a Jonah and hid from God. I too, found myself in a “whale,” a very dark place in my life. I was so ashamed. Yet, God spoke to me and reminded me that He still loves me regardless of my wrongs and to return to Him. It then hit me that my whole idea of who God is was distorted. He operates out of love, not anger. He didn’t want me to fear Him, He wanted me to love Him. My way of loving Him through only my works was not genuine because it was out of fear. Love and fear are like oil and water. It wasn’t solely about my actions, but the position of my heart. From that point on, I decided I wanted to rebuild my relationship God, I wanted to get to know Him, and I wanted to fall in love with Him.

I threw away all the theatrics and rigidness. Now, I pray to Him (regardless of where I am or what time of the day it is) as if I I’m speaking to my friend, very raw and transparent. I literally chill with God; I softly play gospel music in the background while I eat snacks while I am studying the Bible and taking notes. In the summer, I would take nature walks alone and reflect on my life and all God has done for me. I attend church, not out of obligation but because I actually enjoy going and learning the Word. While I am preparing to go out, I play sermons or gospel music out loud. The more I dwell in His presence and learn about/understand Him, the more I love Him, and the more that I love Him, the more I find myself living in a way that pleases Him.

I am still trying, and I am still growing in my intimacy with Him. I do not have to be perfect for God but God is perfect for me.

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