Eighteen inches from God
There is an incredible difference between knowing something in your head and experiencing it in your heart.
There is an incredible difference between knowing something in your head and experiencing it in your heart. Today, we’re going to explore what it looks like to do more than just learn about God but, instead, to experience him in a transforming and powerful way.
On the first Easter Sunday, the risen Christ joined two people on their way to Emmaus, a town seven miles west of Jerusalem. As we read the story in Luke 24:13–35, they seemed to understand a great deal about Jesus: they knew he was “a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people” and that he had been crucified (v. 19). They had hoped he would be the Messiah and had even heard that he had been raised from the dead.
And yet, despite all of their knowledge, “their eyes were kept from recognizing him”. They were eighteen inches from God—the distance from the head to the heart.
Not long after, when they personally heard Jesus speak biblical truth and joined him in worship, “their eyes were opened,” and they finally recognized him for who he truly is. “They said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?’”. The reality of Jesus moved from their heads to their hearts.
God is less a concept to be understood than a Person to be experienced. In his book Men Who Met God, A. W. Tozer reminded us: “Genuine Christian experience must always include an encounter with God.”
As we focus this week on beginning our new year with God, let’s resolve today to experience him every day. Psalm 34:8, our verse for today, is God’s invitation: “Oh, taste and see that the Lᴏʀᴅ is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”
Connecting with God in a meaningful way can actually be challenging for those of us who meet with God using devotionals like this one. We can assume that because we are making time for God, we must be experiencing God. However, as I have learned personally over the years, our heads and our hearts are only as connected as we choose for them to be. If we’re not careful, it’s possible we could learn more about God without truly experiencing his love.
So how can we experience God in a transforming way every day?
-First, we must meet him in his word: Hebrews 4:12 reminds us, “The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” God longs to speak to our hearts through his word.
-Connect with God in prayer: Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (my emphasis).
-Listen for his voice in his creation: Psalm 19:1 puts it this way, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”
-Engage in deep relationships with other believers: Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”
Francis Schaeffer was right when he titled one of his books He Is There, and He Is Not Silent. God is with you right now and desires to connect with your heart. Will you listen for his voice and experience his transforming presence today?
today’s devotional is written by Jim Denison
1. Meditate on the fact that God wants to speak to you today.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).
2. Make time to hear his voice in Scripture, prayer, and worship. As you read the following verse, ask the Spirit to speak through it to you. If you can, write down the thoughts that come to your mind and respond to God with gratitude and praise.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).
3. Spend time dwelling on the truth that God is your refuge today. Ask God to help you walk in the life that he intends for you today.
“Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:8).
The time to seek intimacy with God is before we even recognize we need more intimacy. When the rain starts, it’s too late to go home for an umbrella. When an enemy surrounds us, it’s too late to run to the fortress.
Choose to make God your refuge today. Then ask yourself: Who do I know who needs to do the same?
Invite them to claim your Father’s promises in the Psalms, “This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him” (Psalm 18:30). When you draw close to him, “under his wings you will find refuge” (Psalm 91:4).
Will you live “under his wings” today?
Extended reading: Psalm 91
May your time spent with him be marked by his satisfying presence as you experience the transforming power of encountering the living God every day.