My daughter's reading list for school this year had a familiar name on it: The Velveteen Rabbit. While the book has had a comfortable spot in our bookcase for years (it was a baby gift for our now-22 year old son), I had never actually read it. For those of you who may also be familiar with the title, but have never actually read it, a young boy receives a stuffed bunny rabbit one year for a gift. In the nursery late at night, a wise old rocking horse tells the Rabbit about a kind of magic that occurs in toys who receive much love from their owners. "Real," said the Skin Horse, "is a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
And the horse was right. Night after night the little boy took his rabbit to bed with him. The Rabbit was always by the boy's side each day and each night. Once pristine, now the Rabbit began to look tattered and worn because of the boy's hugs and attention. One day, upon hearing the boy insist that his bunny wasn't just a toy, but REAL, the Rabbit rejoiced for he knew the magic the old rocking horse mentioned was indeed true for him. Even the boy's Nana observed this in the Rabbit as she picked him up from the bed one morning:
As I read that to my daughter, my mind went to spiritual matters. Have you attended church, read the Bible, heard others talking about Jesus and yet felt somehow that He isn't exactly Real for you? Others share the personal impact of God's word and discuss how they have come to know God as they spend time with Him in prayer. But, for you, perhaps reading the Word feels like reading someone else's love letter? Or going to church is a good thing to do, but the distance between you and God seems too great for this to seem Real.
Questions plague your mind: Do I even know who God is? Does He possibly know me? How can this religious pursuit become something more real?
I wonder how many women in our churches each week have a lot of knowledge about God and His love, His character, His commands...and yet don't understand how all of that impacts them on a daily basis. Maybe we don't make the connection between the head and heart. Maybe we don't believe all that goodness and love really is for us. Maybe life's experiences have twisted things so much that we can't grasp what a good and loving Father could possibly be like for us.
Knowing God is critical. As we read the Bible, may we be diligent to discover who God is. Keep our eyes fixed upon Him as we dig into the Word. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach us more and more about our heavenly Father.
Being known by God is also very important. While God knows His own, we get a taste of what this means when we apply God's word to our lives. As we fear Him, love Him, obey Him, depend upon Him in everyday practical ways, our knowledge takes up residence in our hearts-not just our heads. Hopefully we begin to experience the love of God first-hand. We will know that we know that God is Real to us, He's not Real just for 'those other people'. His very word applies to us! Because I know He is holy, I can go before the Throne and ask Him, "How can I turn from my sin?". Because I know He is good, I can rest assured, that for even me, all things will work out for good to those who love Him. It's not just nice principles; it's real truth for ME...for US!
You may be insisting that God is real to you in your life. I pray this is true! If it is, our lives will bear abundant fruit testifying to this. It is possible, though, that we do not know this for ourselves. Personally experiencing God's love may be more elusive than we care to admit.
Along with the Ephesians, may we know the love of Christ in such a way that it actually surpasses knowledge and fills us up so that God Himself becomes Real in our hearts and experiences.