By Annmarie Asiimwe
Many times, Jesus said, “For him, who has ears let him hear.” God makes it very clear in the Bible that He loves it so much when we seek Him. In Matthew chapter 13, He compares the kingdom of God to a buried treasure that’s worth selling everything we have for. Our relationship with a God who is in so many ways, hidden, means we need to cultivate a heart that is continually crying out to Him and seeking Him as the greatest treasure we will ever possess.
Though I’m in YWAM and have been for quite a few years, I haven’t always worked in a team or been part of a local YWAM community. For many years, my fellowship was church on Sundays and an occasional bible study I’d get to with some other mums in our town. There were times I was overwhelmed with ministry, felt like I could barely cope with a sick husband and kids, and days we were both so shattered by life that when we did sit down to pray together we felt we had no strength or passion for it. We prayed as simply as, “Thank you God for the roof over our heads, for our breath, our sight…”
Loneliness can be a hard one when you leave YWAM. For several tough years, I kept a little note by my sink which read, “You are not alone.” It took all the faith I could muster to hold on to that truth. Loneliness hurts, sometimes like a physical pain. Things that helped me were asking God who I could show love or hospitality to; I love going for walks, and pouring my heart out to God, or journaling. Consider asking God for divine appointments. He is a God of relationship and it’s also His priority for me and you. Without any doubt though, those periods of loneliness that I’ve gone through have drawn me closer to God.
As I’ve reflected on the question of how we can develop and deepen our relationship with God, listing to myself all the things that have helped me in my faith, I realised it comes back to what Jesus said…surprise! surprise! … “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength, and love your neighbour as yourself.”
How do we engage all our hearts, minds and strength? I recently watched a program on getting fit where the guy explained that we’ll most likely give up if we use pure will power. “We have to enjoy it”, he explained.
It makes sense to pursue what gives us joy in our relationship with God. This kind of joy is the deep satisfaction I get when I connect with my Creator. For me, the kinds of things that I love are spending time soaking in His presence, worshipping, dancing, discussion groups, doing ministry with Him, going for a walk outdoors, bible study, chatting and praying with a friend about what God is up to in our lives.
Nowadays, we have the bonus of listening to podcasts, teachings or worship songs on Youtube, for example. I am inspired, encouraged, ministered to by one or more of these almost daily. And oh how I love, these days, listening to the Psalms read from the Message on my Bible app!
Ask God to show you ways in your life right now that will help you connect with Him and make your journey with Him more enjoyable. If there’s nothing ask God to remind you of ways that have stirred up passion, joy, hunger for Him in your life in the past. More often than not I find these things rarely find me but I need to pursue them with all my heart, mind and strength.
What about the hard times? Everyone goes through struggles, pain and hard times. When I look back at such times in my life, I see surprisingly that God has given me the most precious and hard won gifts such as endurance, patience, faith and if my attitude is right, more understanding of Him and his ways. Those are the times when I’ve felt little joy and leaned more into the ‘all’ part of “all your heart, mind and strength”. I remember one time crying out to God and saying, “I can’t go on. I can’t do this anymore.” He reminded me of Jesus when he had been so cruelly whipped and beaten, carried the cross up to Golgotha. Each step must have been so much agony, yet He persevered out of love for me. This gave me strength to keep going step by step though my challenges though so hard for me at the time, were nothing in comparison.
I don’t feel this article is complete unless I mention a toughy... fasting. I never find fasting easy, not by a long shot, but invariably as I pray, it clears my spiritual vision and draws me closer to Him. It can be as simple as a meal, one thing, ie. sugary foods, alcohol, or something that takes your time, ie. social media. I really love how it draws me closer to Him, more like a slow-release than a quick fix though!
I think the most important thing is to try to have a heart posture of continually pursuing more of God, to get to know Him more each day and how He sees the world.
What does that mean? Seek his voice, pursue time with him, reading the Bible, trust, thank Him in everything – this has been key for me through the hardest of times, cultivate a humble heart that lifts others up, seeks to bless others, forgive and holiness and wisdom, to love what He loves and let my heart break over what breaks His heart. And when He speaks follow humbly with all my heart. And we all make mistakes. It’s ok!
I continue to pray,
“God give me the grace to keep seeking you, to be more and more thirsty for you, and to love you with all my heart, mind and strength.”