Have you ever put God in a box?
Have you ever, without notice, slowly and accidentally, started to believe that God can only meet you during certain times of the day or specific occasions in your life? Do you think that God is only accessible during your devotional time or when you’re sitting at Church on Sunday? Do you ever believe that to approach His presence, you have to ‘have it all together’?
Perhaps you don’t believe these things, and if you feel that way, then I would ask you this question:
Does the way you live your life reflect it?
A few weeks ago, I announced that my word for 2021 is ‘Behold.’ I genuinely feel like the Lord is calling me to behold Him in every aspect of my life. But since that day, that cold December morning when I first heard Him whisper this calling to me, I have been faced with many questions.
What does it look like to live a life that seeks to behold the presence of God? To see Him and worship Him and do life with Him?
As I’ve found myself wrestling with these thoughts, I’ve been challenged recently by this truth:
God’s presence isn’t just present when I’m aching and in the valley of death or when I’m on the mountaintop singing for joy and raising my hands in victory. He isn’t just present during the miracles and the moments when my heart is breaking in two. He isn’t only present in my devotional time or when I’m worshipping at Church on Sunday morning.
His presence is always with me. He is accessible every moment of my day.
God requires me to look for Him in the in-between moments of an ordinary day.
And I believe the first step in beholding more of God in my everyday mundane moments is by abandoning religion and stepping into relationship.
Religion says that I have to look, act and be a certain way to be accepted, loved, and worthy.
Religion says that to be of value, I have to follow a set of rules, and they cannot be bent or broken.
Religion says that God only shows up within the parameters of the box I put Him in.
But, a relationship says that I am called to walk in the freedom that Christ gave me through the sacrifice of His life.
A relationship says that I am chosen, loved, redeemed, and worthy – not because of anything I have done or could do – but because I am covered in grace, God’s grace, that runs deeper than the sin that seeks to entangle me.
A relationship calls me to step outside of my box and follow where God leads.
To take it one step further and sort this out in my head, I decided to look up the definitions of ‘religion’ and ‘relationship.’
Religion: a particular system of faith and worship, a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance.
Relationship: the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected.
Do you see the difference, friend?
Religion demands that I follow a system, while relationship invites me to a deeper connection with my Savior.
God doesn’t just want my behavior. He wants my heart. And when I choose to open my heart and enter into a deep connection with Him, my awareness of His presence in the mundane moments becomes greater.
Why? Because as I grow more aware of Him, His heart slowly starts to reveal itself to me and I can’t help but fall more in love with who He is.
And when my love for Him grows stronger, trust is formed, so I desire to walk in obedience to Him out of adoration rather than condemnation.
Beholding God in the everyday mundane is about opening myself up to being available for Christ to move in and through me. It’s about living with my hands, heart, and eyes wide open to what Christ has for me right now, right where I am.
It’s about receiving Him, just as I am, and allowing Him to move within my life.
And I can only begin to live this way once I understand and believe that He hasn’t called me to a life governed by rules and regulations, only caring that I appear as a Christian on the outside. No, friend, He’s after much more than my task list and outward appearance. He’s after my whole heart and invites me to share it with Him as He so freely shares His.
This is how I step away from religion and into relationship. This is how I behold more of God throughout my days.
I stop limiting God by living as if He only appears during certain times of the day and for certain occasions throughout my life, and I start living as if He were right here with me.
Because He is.
When I live by this truth, I cultivate an authentic and real faith not based on appearances or rules.
When I live by this truth, I can behold the presence of God and experience what it truly means to live a life that reflects His presence rather than my performance.
I want this to be the year where I intentionally choose to walk with Him instead of right past Him.
I want this to be the year where I intentionally choose to grow what’s on the inside to reflect what’s on the outside.
Jesus Himself extends that invitation to all of us,
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” – Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)
I love those words, His words, so very much. Because it’s an invitation to enter into a life where I step outside of the performance, the rules, and the regulations – the religion – and instead learn His unforced rhythms of grace, which leads me to a deeper connection and relationship with Christ.
Look for Him throughout your day, friend, ask Him to help you be present to His presence. I have a strong feeling He will show up in really big ways.
The ordinary moments of our days, friend, have the power to create an extraordinary life. And it begins by living in deep connection with the One who calls us to behold Him in every moment, of every day.