Coincident or Personal God?
My dad was a preacher’s kid who believed in a personal God. He died on Monday night–Aug, 27, 2012–in the house he built when my parents were newlyweds—64 years ago. My dad loved that house, but he adored his family. He died in his living room. His wife, three children, and a tribe of grandchildren standing around him, praying over him, and one of his grandsons reading his favorite Bible verse. Charles O. Cooley heard John 10:10 as he took his last breath at 10:10pm.
John 10:10 at 10:10…coincidence? No more coincidence than my dad holding onto life all day, waiting while I traveled from Washington State to Indiana. He died an hour after I arrived.
I serve a God who cares about the small stuff, a personal God, intimately involved in the lives of His children.
A Personal God – Probably Not a New Thought
The concept of knowing God personally—as an intimate Companion, Friend, Counselor, and Father—is probably not a new thought for most people reading this post. But as my mom cared for Dad at home during the last days of his life, I realized anew how crucial that personal, intimate relationship with God was. I’ve always known they were Christians. But when eternity loomed as an imminent reality, all the platitudes and clichés were stripped away and fear of the unknown could have easily robbed their peace. A personal Friend and Savior was never more crucial—or more comforting.
A Personal God in Scripture
But is this personal God concept something I’ve conjured up to make myself feel better about life—and death—or is it something God teaches as truth in His Word? It is Truth.
The Truth in the Psalms
I’m often drawn to Psalms when I’m hurting or confused because throughout these beautiful song lyrics (the Psalms are words from ancient Hebrew songs), we are reminded of God’s nearness, His intimate design for each one of us, and His ultimate plan that involves our good. David, the author of many Psalms, needed a personal God. He was too frightened to settle for anything less.
The Truth in Job
The final chapters of Job’s book are God’s description of His intimate involvement in even the smallest details of Creation. If God helps a lioness hunt prey, He can certainly help me find a parking space at the grocery! Job was the pinnacle of righteousness and success who was taken to the depths of despair and devastation. He suffered too deeply to settle for anything less than a personal God.
The Truth in Judges
Gideon had a confidence problem, but God called him to lead the Israelites to freedom. How could one man make a difference? Lives were at stake. An entire nation rested on his shoulders. Gideon faced too large a task to trust his life to an impersonal God.
I Need a Personal God
I’m a relatively transparent person, willing to share my weaknesses, my fears, my faults. However, like most folks, I have a door in my heart to which no human holds a key. Behind it there be dragons—and only my God dares to enter that closet…and clean it out. Sometimes I don’t even know what’s in there until he shines His light in the darkness. Then we work on it together, my personal God and I.
Everyone who witnessed my dad’s transition from earthly life to the abundant life experienced that moment differently—mentally, physically, and spiritually—things they can’t express to anyone on this earth. We all need our God to be personal.
And we aren’t alone. You—yes, you—have experienced things that no one on this earth can understand. Only a personal God can help you through it. He’s waiting and willing to do just that.
Prayer is simply talking to Jesus about whatever burdens your heart. Talk to Him as you’d talk to your best Friend. That’s what He longs to be…
- When have you felt God to be most personal in your life?
- Do you have a favorite Scripture that reminds you of God’s presence in your life?
If you don’t have a personal, favorite Scripture, you can borrow my dad’s favorite until you and Jesus decide on one of your own:
[Jesus said,] “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
John 10:10 (NIV)