How Do I Know God is Real?May 16, 2023
Last week a friend text me "Andy, how do you personally know that God is real? Not theology, not philosophy, not trying to convince others. But how do you know for yourself?" My answer took all of one minute as I picked up the phone and recorded a short voice memo. The thoughts have been rattling around my head since then so I figured I'd let you in on some of them. This is my story.
Listen here -
How do I know God is real?
1. I thought I did
My parents became authentic followers of Jesus when I was a toddler. Their primary reason was to find some help parenting! (I'm sure that was for my older brother, not me...). Consequently I grew up in a family where scripture reading around the family table, and Sunday church and Friday night youth group, were part of the norm. Alcohol was very rare and although I remember being disciplined at home, I don't recall any harsh words between my parents growing up.
When I was seven I invited my mother into my bedroom as I knelt at a table and invited Jesus to be my personal Savior and Lord. During school holidays I attended Christian camps - CBMC in Raglan and Adventure Camps at Waikanae, New Zealand. I remember choosing to do optional bible studies by correspondence in between to win prizes for completion. When I was 13 I chose to get water baptized in my local church. By the time I was a junior in high school, I had a solid knowledge of scripture, surrounded by wonderful mentors and leaders who exemplified authentic Christian living. I had experienced a few cycling, road-related escapes from death and hearing the voice of God.
Then I left home - the sheltered community of support and godly structure, and was accepted for a two-year cadetship on a 12,000 acre ranch (farm) to be trained as a shepherd (horse, dogs, sheep, cattle...). This was boarding with 19 other young men and the conversations were primarily around rugby, beer, boobs and butts... Alcohol consumption was a badge of achievement - how much you could drink before passing out. Sexual conquests were proudly broadcast, and fed by a constant stream of porn videos and magazines. And me having a devoted religious stance, being a virgin, and not gay was a shock.
So they confronted, challenged, tested and pushed me to see if what I believed was real.
2. I asked for more
I was challenged by some awkward and some genuine questions. Being outside my safe and protected zone, I had to find out for myself rather than relying on a childhood experience or that of my parents. So, along with my Michael W. Smith and Steve Grace casette tapes, my bible, the audio book of God's Generals by Roberts Liardon and my guitar I prayed "God if you are real, I want to know you more."
That's when things got real.
I would be riding my horse in the New Zealand hill country and 'get' songs that inspired and encouraged me.
I would be sitting in my room playing guitar and feel an external warmth that washed over my neck and back.
I would be reading scripture and certain verses would stand out and then happen before my eyes. One was "My enemies laid a trap for me... and have fallen into it themselves" (see Psalm 57:6).
3. I grew in favor with God and man
4. I have a heritage of fearing God - walking in His ways, learning His voice, seeing His power
So what about you? What is the reason for the hope you have? And if you don't have hope, here's how to access it... It's really simple, as a mentor of mine said "God wants you so badly He made the conditions so simple... only believe." It goes something like this:
Pray with me...
"Father I come to you in Jesus Name.
Thank you for loving me.
Thank you for sending Jesus to die on the cross for all of my sin, shame and brokenness.
I acknowledge I have sinned and fallen short of your best life for me.
I ask you to be my Savior: to forgive me and cleanse me and make me new.
I invite you to be my Lord: to live with me and lead me and show me Your way.
I ask you to send your Holy Spirit to baptise me with your love and lead me in all truth.
I commit to seeking your Kingdom first in all things.
If you prayed this for the first time I encourage you to reach out to some authentic christian friends, find a local bible-believing church and start to grow in your journey of being a follower of Jesus. Don't hesitate to reach out to us with your questions or comments [email protected].
If you want to grow as a follower of Jesus in your work, join us online to grow in identity, assignment, culture and influence. See Heaveninbusiness.com/free-trial
Until next time!