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Youth Messenger Online Edition


My God and I
Ina Lukic

While preparing for the baptism, I was asking myself how much I really know God. Do I know Him, or I just know about Him? Is He for me only God or my God? Do I really think of Him as of my Father, my Redeemer, Best Friend ever, or He is for me just Omnipotent, Omniscient, Almighty, Powerful God, Creator whom I respect? Then one day, I heard a beautiful song which made me think:

My God and I go in the field together

We walk and talk as good friends should and do

We clasp our hands, our voices ring with laughter

My God and I walk through the meadow’s hue

We clasp our hands, our voices ring with laughter

My God and I walk through the meadow’s hue.

So, how can we walk with God? How can we be friends with Him? How can we develop that close relationship with Him by which we can tell Him the deepest secrets of our hearts—our fears, hopes, expectations not even known to other human beings?

Biblical examples—Abraham, the Friend of God

My journey on the path of making God my Friend has been guided by great biblical examples. I will mention here only a few most notable ones that have made a strong impression on me. Abraham, the man called “the Friend of God” (James 2:23), comes first to my mind. I have known the story of Abraham from my childhood, yet it was only in my teenage years that I began to discover the deeper layers of truth mentioned in this memorable biography.

My first observation was that Abraham (known at that time as Abram), was called by Jehovah God. It was the Lord who initiated a close relationship with a man who possessed some knowledge of the true God but who was limited in his ability to know Him and to serve Him properly. “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee” (Genesis 12:1).

No one can become close with God—much less be called God’s Friend—who is not prepared to separate from the people and from the pursuits that are opposed to God’s will as revealed in the Bible. Both in Ur of Chaldea, and in Haran, Abraham was in too close association with relatives and friends who were not worshippers of the true God. In the second commandment of the Decalogue, the most sacred document written by God’s own hand, Jehovah describes Himself as “a jealous God.” This jealousy is a proper “immune” response of a healthy love relationship between God and His people. Although many of the youth in our church have Christian parents and Christian upbringing, every child and youth needs to identify and confront any person or any issue that may draw him or her away from God. God invites each of us to a close friendship, yet this friendship is exclusive and very intimate, and it allows of no other god or pursuit that is contrary to God’s will.

The role of faith

The book of Hebrews teaches us that no relationship with God can exist without faith: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). God speaks and we listen. He speaks through His word, the Holy Scripture, and He also speaks through our conscience. Faith cannot be generated and grow without God’s word: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Abraham believed that God could fulfil His promise to him and Sarah—although, considering their age, an offspring seemed utterly impossible. We are told of Abraham’s faith: “He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God” (Romans 4:20, NKJV).

This saving faith was an active force in Abraham’s life, making him obedient to God’s commands—whether to leave his homeland and his relatives or to be prepared to offer to God as a sacrifice the promised son, Isaac. Therefore, God was able to say of Abraham: “And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (Genesis 26:5, 6).

My study of the life of Abraham taught me several important lessons: God is the One who initiates my relationship with Him; He calls me into a loving but exclusive covenant with no other gods; and further, my covenant with God is established on God’s promises and my free acceptance of those promises by faith. I have come to understand why no one can please God without faith: No close relationship can exist without trust. We can maintain friendship with people who hurt us but who acknowledge their wrongdoing, express genuine sorrow for it, and promise to act differently in the future. However, if someone acts under the pretense of being our friend but lies to us and betrays us, we lose confidence in such a person; we cannot trust that man or woman. This brings any relationship based on trust to an end.

Some other examples in the Old Testament – Moses

Space does not permit me to bring to light all the great men and women of the Bible from whom I have learned the lessons of how to build a strong relationship with God. I will mention only a few that stand out. Let us briefly look into the lives of Moses and Elijah. All these men had very personal encounters with God that transformed their lives.

Moses obtained the highest education at the Egyptian court and was destined to become the ruler of a mighty empire. The slaying of an Egyptian who mistreated a fellow Jew completely derailed the trajectory of Moses’ life. He became a fugitive in a foreign country and a shepherd in the service of his father-in-law. But one day, as he was tending the sheep on Mount Sinai, Moses was called from a burning bush by the same Master who had called his ancestor, Abraham. Moses soon realized that he was talking to a divine Being. That Being commissioned Moses to lead out the greatest rescue operation in the Old Testament—the exodus of the nation of Israel from Egypt, the house of bondage. When Moses asked the divine Person he was speaking with about His name, Moses was told: “I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you” (Exodus 3:14). That unique encounter with God transformed Moses’ life and made from a humble shepherd the greatest national leader and lawgiver of all times.

Moses was to have another memorable meeting with Israel’s God on the same mountain—but some time later as he was leading Israel through the wilderness to the Promised Land. At that time, the nation of Israel would make a solemn covenant with God. God made a similar declaration about His character to Moses while on Mount Sinai: “And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth” (Exodus 34:6).

The prophet Elijah

The prophet Elijah is another major biblical figure who can teach us about having a true relationship with God. Elijah was commissioned to carry out one of the greatest reformations in Israel’s history. God sent him with a startling message to the apostate King Ahab and the wicked queen Jezebel: There would be no rain or dew but according to the prophet’s word! The inspired source tells this about Elijah: “It was only by the exercise of strong faith in the unfailing power of God’s word that Elijah delivered his message. Had he not possessed implicit confidence in the One whom he served, he would never have appeared before Ahab.”—Prophets and Kings, p. 121. Elijah was to have several amazing experiences with God during the 31/2 years of drought. He would ultimately confront the prophets of Baal and Asherah on Mt. Carmel and there obtain a major victory.

However, after a glorious success, Elijah felt threatened by the idolatrous queen Jezebel, and he lost his hold on God. He fled to the Judean wilderness and from there he journeyed forty days to Horeb, the “Mount of God.” After asking Elijah, “What doest thou here, Elijah?” God gave him an unforgettable object lesson. Placing Elijah at the entrance into a cave, God produced some powerful phenomena to appear before Elijah—tempestuous wind, an earthquake, and a fire. But God was not in them. Then came a still small voice which Elijah recognized to signify God’s presence. The significance of the still small voice for Elijah and for us, is immense: “Not in mighty manifestations of divine power, but by ‘a still small voice,’ did God choose to reveal Himself to His servant. He desired to teach Elijah that it is not always the work that makes the greatest demonstration that is most successful in accomplishing His purpose. . . . Not by eloquence or logic are men’s hearts reached, but by the sweet influences of the Holy Spirit, which operate quietly yet surely in transforming and developing character. It is the still, small voice of the Spirit of God that has power to change the heart.”—Ibid., pp. 168, 169.

There are precious lessons on how to grow in a relationship with God that I have learned from the experiences of Moses and Elijah. Both great men were called and directed by God, and both accepted the divine appointment by faith. However, both Moses and Elijah had to learn something about God’s character and about their own weaknesses. The most important lesson that fallen human beings can learn is their utter helplessness and their total dependence on God. Every step on our spiritual journey depends entirely on the grace of God. Yet, in order to walk with God effectively, we need to exercise faith or complete trust in His word. That word contains precious promises revealing God’s wisdom. Closely related to faith and trust in God and in His word, is the third lesson: We can trust God only if we know Him. “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). And here we are not left in the dark. God the Father could not have made a more perfect revelation of Himself than by sending His own Son to this world. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).

Meeting God in Jesus of Nazareth

Is there any better way to know God than to meet Jesus, the Son of God?! All the lessons about God and having an authentic walk with God cannot be complete without entering the school of Christ. I have embarked, therefore, on the most rewarding and exciting journey by searching for Israel’s Messiah in the Old Testament texts. I followed the example of Jesus when He taught His disciples on the way to Emmaus: “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). Entering the New Testament, I have beheld Him from His humble birth, His early years, His entrance in the public ministry. . . . He has never ceased to fascinate me as I have watched him preach that the kingdom of God is near, or restore health to the sick, cast out demons, raise the dead. . . . Jesus has become so real to me that I have felt comfortable in talking to God in prayer about my joys, my disappointments and struggles, my hopes, as to my dearest Friend.

“Behold, the Lamb of God”

Ultimately, I have beheld Him in Gethsemane as He was groaning under the heavy weight of my sins. I have followed Him as He was arrested—experiencing betrayal and denial, and the hearings before religious and secular authorities. I observed His dignified behavior as He was abused by wicked men in unfair trials. I have looked in horror as God’s holy Son was ridiculed and mocked, spitted on, flogged, and then put on the cross! Why would He patiently and humbly endure all this abuse at the hand of the people He came to save? The more I have struggled with this question, the more I have realized that He did it for me. It was my sins that inflicted on Him this unspeakable physical suffering and unimaginable anguish of soul. I am so glad that He won the victory over death because the grave could not hold Him. He remained sinless, fully surrendering His will to His Father’s will. According to the prophecy, He was resurrected on the third day!

This beholding of Christ’s suffering taught me the most important lesson of all, the lesson that Jesus taught Nicodemus one starry night: “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). When Nicodemus asked: “How can a man be born when he is old?” (v. 4), Jesus revealed the mystery of the new birth: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:14, 15). The Holy Spirit opened my mind to this great truth: Unless I meet Jesus on this sacred ground, unless I by faith behold Christ lifted up on the cross for my sins, I cannot experience new life. This is the place where one life ends, and a new life begins.

How are we saved?

“How, then, are we to be saved? . . . The light shining from the cross reveals the love of God. His love is drawing us to Himself. If we do not resist this drawing, we shall be led to the foot of the cross in repentance for the sins that have crucified the Saviour. Then the Spirit of God through faith produces a new life in the soul.”—The Desire of Ages, pp. 175, 176.

My following of Jesus to the cross and to His glorious resurrection, brought me to a major milestone in my life. At the beginning of October 2021, together with two other young people, I publicly professed my faith and made a covenant with God through water baptism. The God of the scriptures, the God of Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and of innumerable heroes of faith, is now my God also. In all my journey I also feel much indebted to my godly parents and relatives, and to my church. They have guided my steps in the path of righteousness and encouraged me to move forward when I hesitated. God is real to me, and I cannot imagine my life without being in His presence. I thank Him for giving His dear Son, Jesus Christ, for my sins and for preparing a place for me and for all those who love Him in His kingdom of glory!