When I encountered God for the first time in my bedroom at the age of sixteen, it set the course for the rest of my life. This defining experience was not based on how messed up I was, but how amazing He was. It was a combination of Isaiah’s, “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty, and David’s, ‘One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in his temple.’”
Both of these experiences illustrate what the beginning of becoming a lover of God looks like. First, recognizing how jacked up you are, but not stopping there, for it should make you fall madly in love with how amazing, perfect, majestic, and holy God is. Second, that love is even further demonstrated on His end because He chooses to love you unconditionally despite your filthiness.
1. Establish a consistent devotional life.
The truth is even the most committed lovers of Jesus have a hard time having a consistent devotional life. When you get married this will be one of the most challenging areas of your walk with God. You will be tempted due to the excitement of the new season of marriage to neglect your time with God. It is so dangerous to get into a relationship and not have this component nailed down. When you get the revelation that the person you are, is because of Him, then you know your entire life is dependent upon a growing relationship with God. I am the man I am today, because of the history I built with God during years of being single.
I remember a specific time I went on a personal fast to really draw close to Him. My goal was not to get anything from God. All I wanted was to hear His voice. I was sick of being selfish and self-centered, constantly coming to Him with questions and concerns about my timeline. During that fast I expected to grow in patience, but I became even more anxious. I felt like all the lights in the room were being pointed at me and all of my flaws, insecurities, and disqualifications were being put on display.
What I did not know was the fast had activated John 15:2 which says, “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every brand that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” You see, it is the desire of God to make you more like Him, but it does not always feel good. When I see myself getting mad easily, or frustrated with myself I know there is only one thing I need and that is His presence. Become a lover of His presence not when you need something from Him, but because you need Him.
2. Go on Personal Spiritual Retreats.
“Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you”. (Joshua 3:5 ESV)
The first lesson I learned in marriage, in regards to my relationship with God, was my wife is the greatest threat to it. Let me explain. When I was single, I did not have someone waiting to spend quality time with me when I got home from work, so it was easy to retreat and have alone time with God. After getting married, everything changes. Bob Sorge, best-selling author of The Secret Place, teaches you to have a yearly, blocked off weekends where you go away to be with God. This makes way for you to reignite your relationship with God, attain perspective for your current and upcoming season, and make intercession for those closest to you. My wife and I schedule time to go away with God for a period of refreshing with Him. Learn to do this now for it will be a blessing to you and your future spouse.
3. Learn Not to Worry, but Trust God
If you only knew how much time I took worrying how God was going to bring my spouse into my life. After graduating from college it was like okay, “God, I’m ready,” a phrase I would repeat every day in my prayer time. Each minute I spent worrying how she was going to come. Worrying about when she was coming robbed me from enjoying the season God had me in. If you are single and waiting on God for your spouse, please do not waste time wondering how God is going to do it. Trust that He will do it. Your marriage season will come in God’s timing.
We all desire to be pleasing to God. But, the reality is we cannot be pleasing without faith being involved. This is a simple reminder to throw off your safety goggles and stop playing it safe with God. I challenge you to pray one of the most dangerous prayers you can pray, “God Use Me”. Trust me, HE WILL DO IT!