Be Satisfied with Nothing Less
The “desert” is the place where joy has dried up. The solution to the desert is the presence of God. God’s presence is the source of blessing and joy.
“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O LORD. They rejoice in your name all day long; they exult in your righteousness” (Psalm 89:15-16 NIV).
You experience God’s presence by experiencing his attributes when he turns his face favorably toward you. And it is through that enjoyment that you increase your love for God.
It is not enough to learn true things about God. It is not even enough to experience the benefits of his attributes. We must not be satisfied until our experience of each attribute has been profound enough to move our soul toward deeper love for him. We must keep learning and experiencing what is so wonderful about each attribute until there is a response in our affections.
The Source of all Joy
Each of God’s attributes is a single ray in the spectrum of the brilliant radiance of his glory. They are waves in a massive ocean, and one drop of that ocean is enough to delight your soul and occupy your faculties of praise for all eternity.
“… You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11 NIV).
How to Go Beyond Mere Knowledge
How do you find intimacy with God? Open the pages of Scripture, and instead of merely looking at all the words, putting in your time so you can say you did your reading, make an all-out search for anything and everything you can learn about how to experience the excellencies and perfections of God.
Suppose you’re reading Romans 15 and come across verse 5.
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity.”
This verse supplies three facts about God:
1) He gives endurance.
2) He supplies encouragement.
3) He brings unity.
Three facts about God, but be careful. You can gather facts about God in ways that do not produce intimacy with him.
You might read the part about God being the the one who supplies encouragement and think, “Yep. I already knew that. Nothing new there,” and move on. If you do, you’ve missed an opportunity to experience God’s presence.
The fact that God encourages may not be new to you, but it’s always possible to experience that attribute of God in a new way.
Think of how you get to know people. Someone says, “Have you ever noticed what an encourager Sarah is? Every time I’m around her I come away feeling like I can handle anything life throws at me.”
What effect would that comment have on you? You would not simply think, “Sarah has the attribute of cultivating inner strength in people. I need to memorize that fact.” No. You would think through what it means in practical, relational terms and you would notice it more in the future. You would recall your interactions with Sarah and put this information into that context. And you would be alert to her encouraging attributes the next time you saw her.
That is how we should respond when we read about the attributes of God in Scripture. What does it mean that God gives endurance? How does he do it? Why does he do it? What does it feel like when it happens? How can I experience more of it?
Then, as often as possible, seek to make the connections between what you know to be true about God and what you experience in everyday life. Making those connections is the key to enjoying intimacy with God.
Love is not caused by bare information. It comes from interactions, exchanges, and experiences of the person you are learning to love.
How do You Know When You’ve Experienced His Presence?
As you read the Bible (especially the Psalms), each time you come across an attribute of God (an attribute is anything that is true about him), spend time in meditation and prayer seeking to have your eyes opened to the goodness of the attribute and to experience that it.
Ask yourself, “What kinds of effects would be present in my heart if I were to experience this attribute?”
- Gladness and joy
- Greater love and desire for God (and all those he loves)
- Safety and protection
- Peace and calmness
- A joyful, willing heart
- Fullness and satisfaction
- A greater abiding presence of Christ in the heart
- Experiential knowledge of the love that surpasses understanding
- Fear of God
- Awe and reverence
- Desire to obey
Need Help Getting Started?
If the concept of experiencing and enjoying God’s attributes in a relational way is new to you, there is a resource you may find helpful. The book Deeper Knowledge of God is a daily devotional that explores 76 of God’s attributes. The book is divided into 180 daily meditations.
Each day’s reading provides a few paragraphs on what is so amazing about that attribute and some ideas on how to experience that attribute as you go about your day.
I pray the book will assist you in drawing nearer to God’s presence than you ever have before. But even without the book, this is something you can do. Try it now. God to Psalm 63 and make a list of all the attributes of God you find stated or implied in that psalm. I would love to see in the comments. Your list might help others get started.
Next, pick one attribute from your list and give some deep thought–beyond what comes to mind right away–about what is wonderful about that facet of God’s glory.
Finally, write a prayer or a psalm, praising God for being that way and talking to him about how you might have greater experiences of that attribute than you’ve ever had.