“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8 (NIV)
I didn’t want to say it. I didn’t want to feel it. I didn’t want to be struggling with it. Yet I know it’s impossible to fix problems I refuse to admit I have.
“I’m not sure the Lord is really with me.”
I was in a season where I’d been doing church for a long time. But I kept having this suspicion that other Christians had a more direct line to God than I had.
Things just seemed to work out for them. They kept gratitude journals and had plenty to write on those pages every day. And when we would study the Bible together, they had incredible revelations that they’d express by saying, “These verses really spoke to my heart … The Lord just showed me something amazing …” Or, “I see His hand moving so powerfully in my life right now.”
I would hear their confidence and want to quietly pack up my notes and Bible — which didn’t have nearly the amount of highlight marks in it as theirs did — and just go home. What was I missing?
Sometimes I would feel a rush of assurance and comfort when standing with my hands raised in a crowd electric with praise songs. Or I had a rare moment when something big happened and I could declare, “Wow, look what the Lord did!” But I wasn’t like those other girls at Bible study. And I was too afraid to admit my uncertainty to anyone or ask questions.
I just kept quiet. And I just tried to have the same unwavering spiritual confidence that everyone else had about their situation. All the while, internally, I couldn’t shake this nagging thought that if Jesus really cares about me, why does He seem to stay hidden from me? And if Jesus really wants a relationship with me, why can’t I see Him, hear Him and get to know Him? I mean, if a human relationship was this mysterious, I’d assume the person was ghosting me, rejecting me and giving me the not-so-subtle hint to move on.
Then I remembered some relationship advice I’d heard: If people want to improve their connections with friends and family, they need to communicate their desires more clearly.
Maybe that’s what I needed to do with Jesus. So I wrote in my journal three desires I had for my relationship with Jesus:
- I want to see You.
- I want to hear You.
- I want to know You.
At first, this felt so odd and strange. After all, I knew I wouldn’t likely physically see or hear Jesus. But what my heart was crying out for was to see evidence of His reality in my life. I truly wanted to experience His presence and walk in the assurance that He saw me, heard me and wanted to know me.
Then I read the words of Matthew 5:8 — “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” This verse doesn’t say only a perfect person will see God. No, the pure in heart … the one who really wants to pursue God … will see Him.
I kept journaling about this and then one day decided to turn that list into a prayer I would pray each day. And eventually I added, “I want to follow hard after You every day so before my feet hit the floor, I say ‘yes’ to You.” I decided, after praying that prayer each day, that I would start looking for Him with greater intentionality throughout my day. I would tune in to my own life experiences and start living with expectation of this prayer being answered.
It’s now been over 20 years since I started praying this prayer.
And I’m different because of learning to practice the presence of Jesus and experiencing Him daily. It has been an intentional, daily pursuit of Him. Looking for Him in unexpected places. Through the good. Through the not-so-good. And everything in between.
I still think about that doubt that haunted me in my early days of following Christ: “I’m not sure the Lord is really with me.” I can’t say that doubt doesn’t ever creep back in my mind. But what has dramatically changed is that it doesn’t send me spiraling into panic and hopelessness now. I’m not afraid doubt is a sign that my faith is weak. Quite the opposite. I now see it as an invitation to start looking for the Lord with even more intentionality.
Dear Lord, my greatest desire is to know You more and to see You in every part of my situation. Today, I say “yes” to You and declare my trust in Your plan for my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (NIV)
In what ways do Lysa’s struggle and prayer resonate with you? How can you pursue and seek Jesus on an even deeper level today? Consider writing out your own personal prayer and lifting it up each day this week. And share your thoughts with us in the comments!
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