You’re sick and tired of trying harder and failing. It would be so freeing to be more like Jesus without the disappointing and exhausting struggle. Recently we talked about why the religious activities such as church attendance and daily devotions don’t seem to be working. If you become changed by being with Jesus more than by just learning about Him, how do you do that?
Filling your mind with truths about God is vital. That’s where expository preaching and most Bible studies do well. Your left brain must have that.
But when Peter and John stood before the Sanhedrin they had not been to seminary or even read the Bible. They were changed because they had been with Jesus, and others could tell. (See Acts 4:13.)
Would you have a relationship with your spouse, best friend, or child if you only knew about them? Reading letters from them, watching them perform wonderful acts, or even knowing their DNA sequence doesn’t compare to being with them.
And so it is with us and God.
While we can’t see, hear, and feel God with our physical senses in the same way we do a good friend, He has promised to be with us. Jesus was called “Emmanual, … God with us” (Matthew 1:23). Jesus said of the Holy Spirit, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever” (John 14:16, emphasis added).
So how do you experience being with Jesus? Three suggestions.
Include Your Physical Body
For your inner being to be transformed you must not only involve your left brain that is logical, linear, and verbal. You will also need to involve your right brain that is sensory, emotional, and non-linear. Your right brain is only impacted a little by logical facts or propositional truths. It is, however, deeply impacted by experiences and by being with other persons, including God.
To bring your right brain online in addition to your left brain, include your body in your being with God. Physical inputs go directly to your right brain.
Remember, your very body “is a temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19). We over-spiritualize that so quickly. God created you as an integrated human being–body, soul, and spirit. He’s as involved in your body as He is in every other part of you.
Nature is God’s extravagant gift of things that fill the senses. The fragrance of flowers or of a field after a summer rain. The sound of thunder, of birdsongs, or running water. Moonlight reflecting across the ocean or behind the clouds before sunrise. A colt cavorting beside his mother. The soul-stopping awesomeness of a vast mountain range. Look for opportunities to drink deeply of God’s presence coming to you in that kind of beauty.
And in your alone time with God, include sensory elements also. Light a candle. Play some worship music that calms the soul and invites you deeper. Even the fragrance and taste of my fresh morning coffee is part of inviting my whole self to be present and with God.
Invite Your Emotional Self to be Present
Being led by your emotions will get you into trouble, but you do need them. God created your emotional self. Jesus experienced and expressed the full range of human emotions when He was on earth. Emotions are part of your right brain’s experience. When you are with another human being you sense things with your emotional self–irritation, peace, excitement, attraction, anger, etc. It’s the same when you are with God.
I hear from so many people who feel they have to deal with their emotional self on their own. Somewhere they’ve gotten the idea that to come to God they must pull themselves together and get “spiritual”. In truth it’s just the opposite.
Intentionally bring your emotional self into God’s presence. The very idea of being close to Him may feel intimidating, difficult, or even scary. Your soul may be tied up in anxiety, sadness, overwhelm, or anger. Bring those very emotional states to Him. Journaling can often help; just write what you would say to Jesus if you could physically see Him right next to you. Or speak to Him: “Father, I’m all upset about . . .”
Letting your emotions come out in His presence is the only way to heal them. God doesn’t heal your anger, bitterness, fear, or grief long distance. He can only change those parts of your soul when you allow Him into the deepest parts of your being. And you have the choice about whether to allow Him there.
Embrace Silence and Stillness
Studying Scripture, exuberant praise, and making requests of God are all wonderful things. Jesus told us to do those things! But those things only bring little transformation. You become changed when you encounter God’s presence in the deepest parts of your being. When Jesus shows up, things change.
And that happens in stillness.
God rarely if ever adds His voice to a cacophony of sound in your world or in your head. It’s when you become still that you can hear His voice and sense His presence.
In our Western modern culture we have lost the discipline of silence and stillness, even in church. I’m not sure there’s anything that has transformed my relationship with God more than incorporating silence into my time with Him.
You can train yourself to get better at this. Start with 60 seconds of silence. Set the timer on your phone or watch if you need to. With practice your brain will become better at being still and you can lengthen the time.
After you’ve expressed your emotions to God, become quiet. Breathe deeply. Sit comfortably. Let your body relax. Pray simply and quietly, “Jesus, I’m here.” Your mind may try to wander repeatedly. When it does, don’t get upset; just calmly bring your mind back, dozens of times if necessary, to being still in His presence. “Jesus, I’m here.”
I love 2 Corinthians 3:18: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
Being transformed. It’s a process.
And your role in the process is to continue to put yourself in the places where you can be in the presence of God. Being with Him.
And in His presence you cannot help but become changed.
Your Turn: What helps you experience the presence of God? What elements have helped you include your right brain as part of walking with God? Leave a comment below.
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- Being WITH Jesus is how you become changed. That requires you to not only fill your left brain with truth, but to bring your right brain online as you experience His presence. Tweet that.
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