“Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!” (Psalm 103:1)

For most of my life, I believed that the heavenly Father and I shared a relationship for my benefit. However, His primary purpose for creating intimacy with believers is to reveal Himself.

In a truly loving relationship, each person wants to know more about the other continually. As believers, we are sometimes guilty of taking a more self-interested approach and forget that God is the rightful center of attention. When that is the case, we may head to church or into quiet time looking for something to inspire us, motivate us or help us.

Part of the problem is that we would like to practice our faith in the safest way possible. Bible study, prayer and church are relatively straightforward, compared to stepping out in faith or enduring persecution. But to know God intimately is not a purely intellectual pursuit. A truth about the Lord is not really ours until He works it into our daily experience.

Our Father wants His children to understand how He operates. The only way to gain such knowledge is by allowing God to unveil Himself in our life. This means we must be willing to go through difficulty and pain as well as happiness and peace. A man can read that the Holy Spirit is the believer’s Comforter, but he does not know this truth until he needs solace.

The Christian life is not about feeling good and deriving personal benefit from our connection to God. Instead, the Lord builds an intimate relationship with each of His followers. In this way, He can reveal more about Himself — truth by truth — as a believer needs that knowledge. What a privilege!

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Allen Tilley is senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Carthage.