As part of my quest to grow as a spiritually mature Christian, I am currently reading a book titled Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. Although I will not focus on that specific concept in this blog, the introduction of a chapter titled “Going Back in Order to go Forward”[i] ties into a thought I have been meditating on lately. The chapter begins, “Emotionally healthy spirituality is about reality, not denial or illusion. It is about embracing God’s choice to birth us into a particular family, in a particular place, at a particular moment in history.”
This passage only reinforces my gratitude to God for birthing me into a family of believers. I am so thankful that from very early on in my life I have known about Jesus. That name was never foreign to me. I wasn’t introduced to Him by a friend at school, or by a distant relative, or by some history teacher; and I didn’t have to search far to find out about Him. My family consisted of weekly church-goers, and because of this upbringing I knew who Jesus was. And I am thankful.
However, as I got older, my knowledge of Christ would not suffice. I found this out when my father passed while I was in the 11th grade. It wasn’t enough for me to know of Christ, I had to know Christ—and there is a difference. Knowing Christ is established by gaining and developing a personal relationship with Him (John 17:3, 20-26). Just knowing about Him will not carry you through personal struggles and storms. Knowing about the God of my mother did not help when my mother passed. Knowing of the God of my grandmother did not relieve the lonely distress of my two-month stint in the hospital. Only through a personal relationship with Christ can I say that I made it through losing my only brother at the age of 35. Knowing of Christ would not have sustained me when life hit me and crushed me so deeply that I saw no hope for my future.
I am fortunate. I did not have to search high and low for my Savior. He has been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. I did not have to wander in the wilderness, jumping from one belief system to another, before I eventually came into the knowledge of Christ. I am eternally thankful for that. However I learned at a very early age that knowing about Jesus Christ—the God of my mother, father, sister, whomever—was not enough to sustain me through life. I learned that I needed to know God for myself. Developing a personal relationship with Him for myself was the only way I could be here today, sane and in my right mind.
Wouldn’t you like to know Him also?
[i] Scazzero, Peter. “Going Back in Order to Go Forward.” Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: Unleash a Revolution in Your Life in Christ. Nashville, TN: Integrity, 2006. 86. Print.