Photo: Michaela Jelin
Author: Maddie Harkey
“Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God.” 1 Chron. 22:19
I’m going to be honest. Until recently, seeking God with my mind had always been a challenge for me. Instead of spending time in the word and learning about His character intellectually, I’d spend my time journaling, or praying, or watching Him move in the lives of people around me, sometimes neglecting the Word completely. As a feeler, like I think most of us women are, I have always longed to simply experience God, and these things did that for me. I wanted to feel His presence, see Him move, and fall head over heels for my savior. Now, none of these are bad things, in fact all of them are great characteristics to a relationship with God. But I was missing out on a huge part, perhaps even the most fundamental part, of my relationship with Him.
Jen Wilkin, author of Women of the Word, challenged me in these habits when she said “The heart cannot love what the mind does not know.”
The problem with focusing on feeling God rather than knowing God, is that those feelings aren’t always there. Sometimes God is quiet. Sometimes His timing is different than ours and He doesn’t seem to show up when we want Him to. So what do we do then? In those moments it is easy to question who God is and why He has abandoned you. In those moments, our love for Him can tend to waver. But what if we had taken the time to learn God’s history and see the way He spoke and promised and remained faithful in biblical times? We would see that we aren’t the first ones to feel like God has abandoned us at times, and we certainly aren’t the first ones to look back after the fact and see that God was indeed faithful to us all along.
In order to love God in a way that does not depend on feeling alone, we must know Him first. We must learn His character, His history, His promises. And we do that by being in His word.
If you’re like me, it will encourage you to know that there is scientific evidence behind this. According to cognitive psychologist Paul Bloom, “Pleasure results from gaining knowledge about the object of our pleasure, not, as we might assume, merely experiencing it over and over.” Bloom relates this to wine. He states that “the key to enjoying wine isn’t just to guzzle a lot of expensive wine, it’s to learn about it.”
This got me thinking. If someone claims to love wine but knows nothing about its origins or the wine making process, perhaps it is not the wine they love, but the feeling they get while drinking it. Is it not the same with God? If we claim to love Him but know nothing about His character or His history, perhaps it is not God that we love, but rather the feeling of being forgiven and free. We begin to praise that feeling over God Himself, which leaves us hurt and confused on the days when that feeling is lacking.
I don’t know about you, but this absolutely fires me up about being in the word and learning about the origin, character, and nature of God. If I long to love God more, which Matthew 22:37 commands us to do, we must take the time to learn about Him. So, if you’re like me, I encourage you to make some time to be in the Word today. Note God’s character. Watch as He keeps His promises. It will help us to fall deeper in love with Him and remain steady on the days when we just aren’t “feeling” it.
Maddie Harkey is an Altaer alumni and friend of Rising Church. She is currently finishing up her Psychology degree at Georgia State University with hopes of one day pursuing a career in counseling. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, Jon, where they attend Passion City Church and serve on the Student’s team. In her free time, Maddie enjoys writing, watching movies, and exploring her city.