Jo Johnson is a photographer based in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Jo is a plant enthusiast, and she has two adorable dogs named Boji and Oko. She and Matt, her husband, just celebrated their first anniversary! I could tell you about her favorite music, her favorite products, and her obsession with learning TikTok dances. Jo is a Fayetteville influencer. Because she shares her life on Instagram, I know all of these random details - and more - about her!
But, in reality, I have never met Jo.
Cat Coyle also lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Cat is one of my very best friends. We have lived together for over a year now as roommates. We talk every single day; and, more than just knowing things about her, I can honestly say that Cat impacts the way I live, work - and even the way that I walk with God. In the time that we’ve lived together I’ve seen how quick Cat is to act on what she knows is the right thing to do, whether it’s taking out the trash or being the first to seek peace in an argument, Cat doesn’t hesitate to do the right thing. Seeing this has started to change me, it challenges me not to delay or procrastinate.
I know Cat and knowing her has shaped the way I live.
Knowing God vs Knowing about God
Growing up I would have said I knew God, but I really only knew facts about Him. If you had asked me who God was, I could have told you a whole laundry list of stories and characteristics about Him. I would have told you how he created everything, how He is always in control of what happens, and maybe mentioned something about Him being loving.
But there is a difference between knowing about someone and knowing them.
Sitting in a Chick-fil-A as a freshman in college, I realized for the first time that all of the facts I knew about God were worthless if I didn’t have a relationship with Him. Understanding this for myself ended up being a critical moment in my life. By exposing the fact that I only knew about God, I was then free to explore getting to know him deeply and intimately. Once I did this and began to experience a real relationship with God, it changed everything.
I know God and knowing God has shaped the way I live.
So, who is God?
God is immutable.
Immutable is a fancy word that basically means God does not change. We live in a world that is constantly changing and evolving. Just think about all the changes that have happened in the last 6 months! Some changes are good, but some are hard, and most are unexpected. Because I know that God doesn’t change, I can depend on him when life feels unsteady.
My first year out of college, everything in my life seemed to change overnight. I graduated, started working every day at my first job, and began paying bills on my own as a real adult. Life was moving way too fast. Oh, and did I mention that most of my closest friends moved away to start their new lives? Rather than scramble and panic, I learned that I could rest in the fact that God was still with me. The same God who had walked beside me and grown me spiritually through my college years, was there for me as I took baby steps into adulthood. I found normalcy in my relationship with Him and, as a result, and I grew to depend on Him more.
God’s love is deep in the hard parts of life.
Knowing that God is steady and that his love for me never changes or falters affects the way I view hardships. When the storms of life come, when I stress over my bank account or when a worldwide pandemic hits, I know that God’s love runs deeper than these challenges. I know that God loves me, and He wants to give me His best. Sometimes God’s best doesn’t look like what I would expect, but His love is proven in my life. Knowing that helps me trust Him in any circumstance, I know that I can share the deepest parts of my heart and God’s love will remain the same.
I look at the life of David in the bible. David's life was full of hardships and trials; his kingdom was often at war, he got caught in an affair, and suffered the loss of a child. But David knew that God loved him deeply and that God wanted to give him what was best. We can read the psalms and see how passionately David pours his heart out to God. He trusted God’s love enough to share every detail of his life with Him and as a result, David is called a man after God’s own heart.
God is the creator.
I love to read the creation story. It teaches that God created everything I see when I look outside. Knowing this grows my appreciation for his artistry and helps me understand his power. I notice how detailed He was in creating all the different species of plants and animals; I can see His eye for beauty when I look at the stars or the mountains or the flowers. I see His power in the oceans and in a storm. I see how much He cares for everything - including the birds.
I like to be in control. But if I’m being honest, I’m really bad at it. I am quick to forget important deadlines, regularly I fail to follow through on an idea. It seems like the more I fight to be in charge of my life, the more I see things crumble and fall apart. But God is the creator and sustainer of everything. Knowing that God created everything helps me trust that he is in control. He knows exactly what is going in the world that he created and that he is powerful enough to control it.
What about You?
Would you say that you know God? What do you think He would say about the relationship? Has there ever been a point in your life when the facts you know about God started to shape the way that you live? Would you ever pour your heart out to God the way we see David do? Can you trust him?
Whatever your answers to these questions, one thing is certain: everyone has room to grow closer to God.
Getting to Know Him
Knowing God is awesome, but don’t just take my word for it. No matter what stage you are at in your relationship with Him, here are two ways you can get to know God more deeply:
Memorize Scripture - I use a simple tool called “The ABC’s of God and Me”. I match characteristics of God that I've found in the bible to each letter of the alphabet. I then memorize a verse to go with it. For example, my ABC’s Scripture starts with: A - God is able. And I’ve memorized Ephesians 3:20 to go with it.
Pray -Take the time to actually talk to God. You can talk to God about anything and everything! Check out David's prayer in Psalm 23. It inspires me to bring all my emotions to God in every circumstance.
Knowing God deeply has changed the way I live my life. Understanding different aspects of his character shapes the way I view the world and the way I choose to live in it. I hope that you get to know God, and I pray that it changes everything!