Religion or Relationship?

Written by Kristi Huseby

Discover Your Heavenly Father

Are you satisfied with just going through the motions with God? #LifeDevo

Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you.  I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered.  Heart-shattered lives read for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.”  Psalm 51.16-17 (MSG)

As a child growing up in a Christian home, I was told that God didn’t want me to pursue religion but a relationship with Him. And I was given a list of dos and don’ts to aid me in this quest. But truthfully, I struggled to comprehend how I actually could have a relationship with an unseen God. 

I understood in an intellectual way but my heart wrestled to grasp it. My relationship with Him seemed to be driven more from a sense of obligation and guilt than anything else.

Why was trying to have an intimate relationship with God so hard? I wanted it. Why couldn’t I experience it?

Slowly I began to learn that God wanted me to WANT to spend time with Him.

These guidelines weren’t given to me so I could check them off and feel good about myself.  They were given to forge my love for God and grow my relationship with Him and absent of love and relationship they become only things to boast about, nothing more. 

If you have struggled, like me, with having an intimate relationship with God, I encourage you to let go of the checklist and just BE with Him.  He is waiting, inviting you to grab hold of this incredible relationship.

Lord, put within us a burning to desire to WANT to be with You, not because we know we should but because we simply desire You.  May we be satisfied with nothing less.  Amen.

Take Action

Constantly ask, “is this what I would want in a relationship?” For example, if you think “I have to read my Bible and pray”,  would you want a friend or spouse to feel like they have to spend time with you?  Why would God be any different?  Bible reading and prayer is great if you’re using them to pursue relationship with God but if you’re only doing it to check it off your list than you’re missing the mark.

3 Responses to “Religion or Relationship?”

  • Kate says:

    Dear Wayne and Cindy,

    Thanks for sharing here. What you’re mentioning rings true for me too. These days I am taking a course in Old Testament theology and learning about how the Old Testament writers understood God’s relationship with Israel. God acted first by saving the Israelites and then in response to God’s deliverance, they worshipped Him. So maybe we can think about God’s actions in our lives?

    For example, I can think how God acted to place me with my parents, in my family, and talk to God about my family. I can reflect on things I am grateful for and things that upset me. As I am reflecting, I can pray perhaps aloud or writing in a journal. I can also turn to a passage in scripture where the people were feeling what I’m feeling to see how God dealt with them. I can thank God and trust Him to deal with me too, according to His mercy, in His time. Then, as I go about the rest of my day, I can be alert, listening and looking with my heart, recalling how God deals with His people and RECOGNIZING that He is dealing with me too. I don’t expect to hear an audible voice, nor do I expect to see a humanly-looking hand touch me, BUT I do expect that certain things will trigger inside my heart…. LIKE when I am about to react in anger, I might ‘hear’ a voice inside reminding me to be patient or LIKE when I am feeling really frustrated I might see someone performing an act of kindness…and these things will remind me to TURN my thoughts back to God, to speak to Him about what I am hearing and seeing, to make CHOICES that honour Him because I know from scripture that God desires us to be kind, patient, loving, merciful, self-controlled and so on. THEN when I start changing, when my character is growing to become more like Jesus, then it is confirmed to me that my relationship with God is really REAL.

    Does any of that make sense for you?


  • Wayne says:

    When this message showed up in my email box, I thought, “Great, just great: another one of those bumper sticker messages telling me once more that “I’ve got it wrong.” I was so relieved to read how someone else longed for a relationship but found it elusive. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve just cried out to God telling Him I want to know Him, but feel like my call’s not getting through. The whole concept of a relationship with the unseen, almighty God makes no sense. How do you talk to someone who won’t talk back? How do you spend quality time with someone who’s invisible? How do you touch someone who won’t touch you back? I know I can’t blame God; He’s perfect. If there’s a relationship breakdown, I know it’s my fault. But I want to blame Him. Stupid, huh? And I guess, part of me is skeptical about the whole relationship dynamic not really being supported in Scripture. Yes, we’re called the family of God, sons of God, friends of God, etc. But is there really any evidence of a touchy-feely kind of dynamic? Seriously, sometimes it just feels like God doesn’t want a relationship with me.

  • cindy says:

    Crazy. I saw the title, “Religion or Relationship” and I thought, “It’s hard to have a relationship with someone you can’t see.”
    Reading this piece is like reading my own thoughts. Intellectually I understand my relationship with God but as far as any intimacy? No, that’s not happening. Yet. Prayers are appreciated.

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