"God became personal to me on a Friday night in the spring of my 8th grade year. Mom and Dad brought me to church from the start of my life, so God seemed familiar to me all along. Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Children’s Church—it was all part of my life. I was 5, or 6 when we had the Jesus talk, I prayed “the prayer” and was baptized. But, by the time I reached adolescence, the understanding of God I had as a 5-year-old was not big enough for my life as a teenager. Christianity was supposed to feel—joyous, free, content. But instead I struggled with guilt, insecurity, and inadequacy. I know—typical teen stuff, but I was a Christian and it was supposed to be different.
I remember praying at the close of a church service. I was telling God that I couldn’t figure out how to live the Christian life and I wanted out of our deal.
I don’t know how to explain it, except to say that God told me I was right; I couldn’t live the Christian life, but that He would live it through me if I would let Him. Galatians 2:20 became a theme verse for my life. It says “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live. And the life I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
It was like God gave me permission to be insufficient and promised that He would more than make up the difference for me."
"God became personal to me when I was ten years old. My grandmother watched my brother, sister and me while mom and dad were at work and in the summers. Her church was just next door, so we spent a lot of time hearing about God. I remember standing in her kitchen praying the Lord’s Prayer and reciting the 23rd Psalm before heading off to school. Her faith was so matter of fact that we assumed that everyone knew Christ.
It was in February 1963, while at church with her, that I knelt down at her pew and prayed for Christ to save me. She was right there beside me, praying and asking God for strength. Later that year while at VBS, I was baptized.
Like so many of my generation, life soon happened and my walk was not providing the best picture of Christ. But God who is never far from His children (since He never leaves us) would not let go of me. When I was fifteen, He brought a pastor into the life of my family and once again God became personal to me in a mighty way. In fact, over the decades since that encounter, God has shown himself to be very interested in my life. He has brought other men and women of faith into my life to help guide and pray for me.
If you ever wonder if God is personal, or if you think you can’t be personal with Him, take His words to heart. Proverbs 3:5-6 says 'Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths'. God has a plan for your life. And that is very personal indeed."
"Growing up in church with wonderful parents who saw the importance of giving me a foundational belief in God and salvation, I have always had a sense that God was close. With the struggles of teenage and college years, I came to rely more heavily upon God “bailing me out” of situations that I shouldn’t have been in. But it wasn’t until my adult years that I really began to more truly believe and feel the closeness of God in my life. He was always my salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ, but there was more. Through personal struggles, God showed me that I am always forgiven in His eyes and that I am redeemable not matter what.
I have experienced the most closeness to God through the people in my life. It’s in forgiveness from another, a hug, words of confirmation, friendship, love, a really important talk, a sermon, through my kids, through my wife, and sometimes from someone I don’t expect. With the birth of my two sons I have experienced a personal God first hand. As personal as I am with my wife and children, is the same way God loves me! And through the intricacies of God’s creation, He shows us how much He cares and provides for us! My decision to leave my profession as an educator of 11 years to become Worship Pastor of First Baptist was a direct result of a personal God who gives guidance, reassurance, and peace to my life".
"Unfortunately, God became personal to me a little later in life. I was not raised in a Christian home, per se, but my mom did take us to church as a child. I made a profession of faith, was baptized, but then fell away from church throughout my teens and early adulthood.
After my first child was born I knew I needed to get back to church, but I was still just going through the motions. I was trying hard to keep everything together. Looking back, I can clearly see God's hand upon our lives as He was calling me back to Him. Through various trails and struggles, a beautiful Christian woman walked through my pain and heartache with me. This helped me to realize that God did have a purpose in all things and He works 'all things to the good of those who love Him'. As I began to get on my knees, seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness, I began to let go and let God work.
One Sunday afternoon I was home alone, feeling sad and lonely, and I clearly heard God say, 'You are not alone. I am right here with you.' That is when God became personal to me. I now understand what James meant when he says, 'Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish it's work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything'.'
"From my earliest memory, it seems that I knew God was real. I can remember being in grade school and asking God for help with friendships and scary situations. That type of relationship of asking for what I needed would continue on into my early adult years. But, at 24 years old, I found myself engaged to the love of my life, starting a new job as a practical nurse. I was also expecting a baby in a few months.
Overwhelming emotions of Joy, Fear, Uncertainty and Insecurity caused me to cry out to the Lord continually. I began to feel God's presence, unconditional love, and peace like never before. I developed a hunger to know scripture. My heart was totally changed and a deep faith grew. Psalms 27 in the Amplified Bible speaks best of my relationship with God:
'One thing I have asked of the Lord, and that I will seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord (in His Presence ) all the days of my life, To gaze upon the beauty (the delightful loveliness and majestic grandeur) of the Lord and to meditate in His temple...I would have despaired had I not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for and confidently expect the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord.'"
"I was blessed to be raised by Godly parents, and knew Christ from an early age. But, it was during the ordeal that is Middle School that I stepped into a deeper personal faith. Suddenly, the faith of my childhood, while sincere, was no longer sufficient to weather bullies, cliques, and puberty; I couldn't understand why kids I'd known my entire life suddenly ignored or mistreated me. I remember coming home from a church conference and crying because I'd had this great time and been accepted by peers, but I knew that the next day I had to go back to that place of pain. I was in a dark place, and very lonely.
Into this, God appeared in two ways. First, he led me to John 15, and I began to see that God loved me enough to warn me. God was big enough, that he wasn't surprised by my pain. The following year at camp, something clicked. In a deeper and more powerful way than I'd ever experienced before, I knew that I was God's son, that He was with me regardless of my circumstances, and I knew that I was meant to serve Him as my King. God reached down from eternity and spoke hope and peace into the heart of a wounded and heartbroken child. God took a personal interest in me, and in that moment my life was changed.
"God started to become personal to me when I was in junior high. I had a friend who was struggling with depression and would often call me in tears, feeling as if taking her life was the only way out. I felt so powerless to help her. The only thing I knew to do was to ask God to be near her and rescue her.
In January of 2012, my dad passed away suddenly and my whole world changed. Deep grief began to characterize my life and everything felt heavy. However, the bitterness of loss also brought a sweet time of feeling Jesus with me, speaking to me and giving me hope. It is safe to say God had never felt more personal as he brought me to a deeper place in my relationship with him. I needed Him to get through each day.
As life began to feel easier, we found ourselves diving into foster care. It is both the most meaningful and most difficult thing we have ever done. And yet, it allows me to know God in a way I never did before. In all of these things, I am so comforted to know He is there when my heart is hurting. It is the place I find a personal God, who sees my burdens and does the heavy lifting for me."