I grew up hearing stories about my grandpa. He passed away when I was a newborn, so I never got to meet him. My mom has told me that he was fun-loving. He treasured his two daughters. He loved music and often entertained his family with his guitar, his harmonica, and his singing. My mom has fond memories of singing along with him. She honored his love of music by singing with me when I was little. She encouraged me to dance and sing to the music playing in our house. My grandpa had an indirect effect on me even though I never knew him.
Then there was Gramma. I didn’t have to rely on stories to learn about her. I got to meet her in person. She was my hero. She made everyone around her feel special and loved. She worked hard tending her enormous garden, canning fruits and vegetables, sewing her own clothes, and preparing the most amazing meals. She loved God with all her heart. I wish I had recordings of all our late-night conversations where she told me about her history and about her God. I knew her FACE TO FACE.
Many of us who are “religious”, know Jesus as I know my grandfather. I have heard wonderful things about him, but I never got to KNOW him personally. Religion tells us stories about the great things Jesus did while He was here on earth. It tells us that He is God’s Son and that He died on the cross and rose again to pay the price for our sins. It tells us that if we confess our sins and accept Him as Savior, then He will give us a home in heaven when we die.
Second-hand stories are great. They connect us to those we could never meet otherwise. I know who my grandpa was because my mom told me about him. Many of us learn about God through second-hand stories. These stories help shape our morals and values. They give us an anchor.
However, I don’t want to know my Creator only through second-hand stories. I want to KNOW Him first-hand. I want to hear His voice speak to me as I read the Bible and as I ask Him for guidance. I want to see His hand working in my family. I want to have His abundant life NOW! He is not a list of rules or traditions. He is not defined by organized religion. He can work through those things, but He is not confined by them.
I want my children to know that He is real and available RIGHT NOW. How will they know if I don’t show them? I need to tell them the stories, but I also need to go a step further. I need to let them see that He is real in my everyday life. I need to continue to pray that they encounter His love and power for themselves.
Jesus is a real person. He loves you. Don’t take my word for it. Don’t take your pastor’s or priest’s word for it. Search for Him yourself.
“But if from there you seek the LORD your God,
you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
Deuteronomy 4:29 NIV