'The Lord supplies your needs, not your wants,' was one of the refrains drilled into me by the Christian tradition in which I grew up. There is truth in that, of course. But the message I heard was that God is a disapproving God who doesn't much like giving us anything.
My other problem was that I struggled to define a need. Whenever I tried praying about anything, even big things like a husband, I got distracted by wondering whether it was an actual need. So my prayers ended up being vague and apologetic. Although I was a born again Christian, I didn't really know what God is like, had no idea that He is utterly trustworthy and kind, not to mention generous and loving and fair. I hardly ever had any expectancy that He would answer my prayers favourably.
It was a revelation then in my late thirties when my husband Adi and I started going to Grace Church, where they lived out a lively expectation that God was for them and with them. I was intrigued. We all knew the same God, yet they had an enthusiasm and passion that I didn't, and their God seemed a lot nicer than the one I knew.
At one mid week home group, not long after we joined, we were practicing praying for one another by listening to the Holy Spirit and then sharing whatever He showed us. Someone had a picture for me of a small child enjoying being pushed on a swing and excitedly screaming: 'More!' My friend encouraged me that I shouldn't come to God in a sophisticated way but that He wanted me to come to Him like a young child and simply enjoy Him. She encouraged me to ask God for more of Himself.
What a revelation. I could ask God for more of Himself? That was okay? Really?
So I started asking God for more of Himself. He answered, and I began to get excited about Him. I'd never had that kind of relationship with God before. He began opening my eyes to wonderful truths in the Bible that I'd never seen before. So much so that I half-suspected He'd rewritten it! How could I have missed how fantastic He was?
I have an addictive personality. I had crushes on teachers, celebrities, and leaders when I was a teenager. As I got older, new hobbies could take over my life. I always felt guilty that something else was taking the place of God, yet He seemed so impersonal and dull. Not anymore. Since that life-changing prayer: 'More Lord!' I'm becoming more and more fascinated, passionate, in love with this wonderful God who loves me and accepts me. And it's okay to be obsessed with Him! In fact this is what life is all about: to know Jesus and enjoy the abundant life He gives.
Picture used courtesy of Vlado at Free Digital Photos.
Mandy Baker Johnson is a self-employed medical secretary who enjoys blogging and is working on an autobiographical book about deliverance from darkness and being healed from cerebellar ataxia and ME/chronic fatigue. She is developing a heart for the poor and enjoys meeting people at her church's food bank and also volunteering with a Christian charity working with women in the sex industry.