“Is it possible for a seminary student to not know God?” asked the bright young man with tired eyes.
Yes, it’s possible. And not just for seminary students, it’s possible for anyone. It’s not a matter of knowing about God – but a matter of knowing God. The apostle Paul knew a lot about God from his studies (as he testified to the Galatians). But he still didn’t know God until he met Him on the road.
God is a person whom we can know personally – and have relationship.
There are varying depths of relationships, and most occur at a surface level. We recognize them and talk about shallow things like the weather, news or sports – but we really don’t open up. Some relationships go a little deeper, like with good friends or certain family members. We share more about things really going on in our lives - but we hold back things that make us uncomfortable to disclose or true feelings buried in our hearts.
In only the deepest “soul mate” relationship, like with a spouse or closest friend, do we share real thoughts in our minds or the deepest feelings of our hearts. We do this because we know and trust the person – and know that person loves us.
The psalmist says, “Deep calls to deep” (Ps. 42:10). He talks about his soul “panting” for God as a deer pants for water – thirsting for the living God – pouring out his soul for the help of His presence – hoping in God for whom he shall yet praise again.
Like with people, depth in our relationship with God can vary from knowing about Him, to being an acquaintance, to being a friend, to being a “soul mate.” Seeking a deeper relationship with God doesn’t mean we just study more about God (though we should). It also means we open our heart, our mind and our soul to God.
As we open ourselves up to God, we trust Him. As we trust Him, we experience His love and mercy. As we experience His love and mercy, we come to know and love Him. Our relationship with Him deepens. Our deep calls to His deep.
God says in His Word, “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD” (Jer. 9:23-24).
Maybe the question is not how much I know about God – but how deep is my relationship with God?