God began by making one person, and from him came all the different people who live everywhere in the world. God decided exactly when and where they must live.  God wanted them to look for him and perhaps search all around for him and find him, though he is not far from any of us.Acts 17:26-27 NCV
When some friends in college asked me if I’d like to join them for Bible studies, I thought, “Sure, why not?”
My goal wasn’t to get to know God, I was just curious. I didn’t know the Bible very well and thought it would be interesting to learn about the stories.
I got more than I bargained for in those Bible studies. I quickly discovered that the Bible is not just a book of stories or a book of wise teachings. The Bible is a book about God; the words of the Bible are his words to me. By reading it, I got learned that God loved me so much that he had arranged for me to be in the right place at the right time to build a relationship with him.
Getting to know God changed my life and was the best decision I could have ever made. I learned how to find lasting happiness that didn’t rely on my circumstances. I learned how to build healthy relationships with people. I learned that God had a purpose for my life that was bigger than anything I could have imagined.
Since then, I’ve also learned that knowing God isn’t a one-time thing:
I have not stopped giving thanks to God for you. I always remember you in my prayers,  asking the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, to give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you will know him better.Ephesians 1:16-17 NCV
No matter how long I’ve been going to church or praying or reading the Bible, I need to make sure I’m still passionately running after a close relationship with God and not running after something else.
In this devotional, we’ll look at some of the promises God makes to us about what happens when we get to know him. We’ll also look at some reasons the Bible tells us we don’t always run after God. And finally, we’ll end with some ways the Bible teaches us to run after getting to know God better.
How will my life change when I get to know God?
I don’t know if it’s possible to list all the ways our lives change when we get to know God, but here are a few compelling reasons to invest in getting to know him.
God brings lasting happiness
Those who don’t know God are happy for only a short time.Job 20:5 ERV
I spent a lot of my life pursuing happiness from things that didn’t last. I pursued success in sports, attention from men, and approval from my parents, to name a few. Those things only made me happy for a short time.
When we don’t know God we need to keep running to the next thing to make us happy. But when we have a personal friendship with God, we know that we are always loved and God is always working for our good. So our happiness lasts, no matter what happens in our circumstances.
God frees us from the burden of trying to behave right
This is because I want faithful love, not sacrifice. I want people to know God, not to bring burnt offerings.Hosea 6:6 ERV
Making a “burnt offering” was a way of sacrificing or making a tribute to God in Old Testament times. But this verse tells us that God doesn’t just want us to perform religious rituals or behaviors. He wants us to know him and love him.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to behave right or follow all the rules we think we should follow to please God. But it’s also very burdensome. Getting to know God frees us from the burden of trying to perform perfectly or behave like a perfect Christian.
When we get to know God, we understand that he wants our hearts. We become motivated to serve him because we’re grateful for how he loves us, even with all our imperfections.
God has good plans for our lives
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God‘s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.Romans 12:2 NLT
When we get to know God, we also get to know his good and pleasing and perfect will for our lives. God has a unique purpose and destiny for each of us, and it’s bigger than anything we could achieve or accomplish on our own.
This is one of the most exciting things about getting to know God. As you get to know him, he’ll show you why you’re here. He’ll help you understand your purpose in the world. He’ll tell you what he wants for you, and his plans are good.
God changes our relationships for the better
He helped those who were poor and needy, so everything went well for him. That is what it means to know God,” says the LORD.Jeremiah 22:16 NCV
Knowing God isn’t just about having intellectual knowledge or scholarly wisdom of the Bible. When we choose to know God, our relationships change. Why? Because God’s love changes us from the inside out:
Dear friends, we should love each other, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has become God’s child. And so everyone who loves knows God.1 John 4:7 ERV
Knowing God is not about gaining more knowledge, it is about understanding his love. When we do, we will naturally start to love the way God does.
Everyone wants and needs love. Knowing God is an important first step in loving the people around us.
God frees us from being dominated by worry
Don’t worry and ask yourselves, “Will we have anything to eat? Will we have anything to drink? Will we have any clothes to wear?”  Only people who don’t know God are always worrying about such things. Your Father in heaven knows that you need all of these.  But more than anything else, put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.  Don’t worry about tomorrow. It will take care of itself. You have enough to worry about today.Matthew 6:31-34 CEV
Getting to know God frees us from being dominated by worry. God already knows everything we need. Worry is a normal human emotion, but when those things we worry about consume us, we end up having no room for thoughts about God. God wants our focus to shift from our worries to believing he wants to take care of all our needs.
Pause and reflect:
- Which of these five promises about getting to know God stands out to you most? Why?
- What do you hope will change in your life as you get to know God better?
What will stop me from knowing God?
If knowing God is so good, why don’t more people do it? Wouldn’t the world be a happier, better place if everyone sought after God and treated others better?
I think the answer is yes, but why doesn’t this happen? Well, sometimes we run after things we can see or things that deceive us into thinking they’ll solve our problems when they won’t.
How long will you people refuse to respect me? You love foolish things, and you run after what is worthless.Psalm 4:2 CEV
We can choose what we “run after” in life, and it’s important to slow down long enough to ask ourselves whether we are running after things that are actually worthwhile.
Here are some examples of things we run after that aren’t actually worthwhile and will get in the way of our relationship with God:
Lies about what will make us happy
How happy is anyone who has put his trust in the LORD and has not turned to the proud or to those who run after lies!Psalm 40:4 CSB
When we don’t trust God and his plans for our lives, we can start to run after fantasies or delusions that aren’t real.
For example, we can start to believe the lie that finding a certain man or woman is the key to our happiness, or that we need another kid to feel complete, or that more hours at the office will make us feel successful.
Watch: 3 Examples of Trusting God When Times Are Hard
None of these things are bad in and of themselves, but it’s a lie that by themselves they can make us happy all the time.
Pause and reflect
- What are some things you tend to chase to find happiness? Which ones are worthwhile, and which ones don’t really provide the happiness you are looking for?
Alcohol and other forms of escape
Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine.Isaiah 5:11 NIV
“Running after a drink” is a common way to handle the stresses and difficulties of life. Alcohol isn’t inherently evil but can be something we run to in hopes of finding relief. The relief it provides is temporary at best and destructive at worst.
For some of us, the desire to escape leads us to run to outlets other than alcohol, but the underlying motivation is the same.
Where do you run when you’re looking for relief? When we learn how to run toward God in our distress instead of running to a temporary form of escape, we’ll end up with a happier life.
Craving more money
Loving money is the first step toward all kinds of trouble. Some people run after it so much that they have given up their faith. Craving more money pushes them away from the faith into error, compounding misery in their lives!1 Timothy 6:10 TPT
Running after money is an extremely common way to try to find security in life. Money seems to promise a lot of things—relief from stress, freedom to do what you want, status in the world, and probably a lot of other things.
The Bible tells us that craving more money all the time can actually push us away from our faith and leave our life in misery. I can’t help but think about the 1997 song Mo Money Mo Problems by The Notorious B.I.G., which tells us that sometimes “the more money we come across, the more problems we see.”
But we need money to live in this world! So what do we do? We can change our relationship with money. We may need it, but we don’t have to love it. We can learn to love God and people and use money, not the other way around.
These are just a few of the things we run after instead of getting to know God. Each of these things gives us temporary satisfaction but leaves us wanting more. When we run after these things we won’t have room in our thoughts and heart to run after God.
Pause and reflect
- What are some things you run after instead of running to God?
- How has running after these things affected your life? What about your loved one’s lives?
- Make some practical decisons to stop running after other things, and to start running to God instead. For example, plan a time in your day when you typically feel stressed and decide to pray instead of turning to something else for relief.
- Ask a friend who knows you what they see you running after.
Getting to know God is a great endeavor. Now that we talked about why we choose to know God, and why we don’t need to run after other things, let’s talk about getting after it!
How do I get to know God?
Search for God like you would search for treasure
“Call out for the ability to be wise. Cry out for understanding.  Look for it as you would look for silver. Search for it as you would search for hidden treasure.  Then you will understand how to have respect for the LORD. You will find out how to know God.”Proverbs 2:3-5 NIRV
You don’t wake up knowing God. You have to put effort into searching. We search for keys, phones, food, and mates … so why would our relationship with God be any different?
One way we can put this passage of Scripture into practice is by setting aside quality time with him each day. It takes effort to stop other things and prioritize prayer and reading the Bible. When we do, we show God we treasure our connection with him.
These Bible verses promise that when we search for spiritual wisdom, we will find out how to know God. God isn’t difficult to find. He wants us to know him. We just have to make sure we decide to search for him.
Learn to enjoy your relationship with God
I will run after you with delight in my heart, for you will make me obedient to your instructions.Psalm 119:32 TPT
I love that this verse says to run after God with “delight” in our hearts. That means that running after God shouldn’t feel like a duty or a burden, or something that deprives us of enjoyment.
Finding scriptures that inspire me about God’s heart, or reading stories in the Bible that are comical are good ways to enjoy God. For example, the book of Jonah is a really interesting book to read because almost everything in the story surprises us.
Another way to enjoy your relationship with God is to go out in nature to talk to him. Being in nature is good for us in so many ways, and it helps us unplug from the many distractions of life to focus on God.
Do an “about-face” when necessary
“The people I love, I call to account-prod and correct and guide so that they’ll live at their best. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God!Revelation 3:19 The Message
An “about-face” is a turn in the opposite direction. We covered this in the last section, but sometimes to run after God you have to decide to stop running toward something else. You can’t just keep running after other things and try to squeeze God in right alongside them.
Sometimes I get distracted with apps and games on my phone and I will spend more time there than reading the Bible. When I get in these spots, it helps my relationship with God a lot to do an about-face by deleting any time-wasting apps so I have more room in my life to spend time with God.
Pause and reflect
- What could you do to start enjoying your relationship with God and running after him with delight?
- Is there something you’re holding on to that’s stopping you from running after God?
- The Book of Psalms is a great book of the Bible to read as you work on getting to know God. It’s a book of prayers that can teach us how to talk to God. Pray through a Psalm a day by reading a verse at a time and talking to God about that verse. Try this for 30 days and see how that changes your day and your relationship with God.
Choose to do what the Bible says
Here’s how we can be sure that we’ve truly come to know God: if we keep his commands.1 John 2:3 TPT
Even if we think we know a lot about God, the real sign that we know him is if we keep his commands. When we know God, we trust him and what he tells us to do.
As a parent, I want my son to obey because he trusts me, even if he doesn’t understand all the reasons I’m asking him to do things. Likewise, when we trust and know God, we’ll obey him because we know he is good and loves us and asks us to do things for good reason.
- Pick one of these steps to know God better and work on it this week. Pray about specific decisions you can make and talk to friends about what you would like to change.
Choosing to know God is the most important thing you can do with your life. Identifying what you are running after will help you make decisions to turn to God each day. Keep running from the things that are slowing you down and run towards God.
Check out these other Deep Spirituality articles to help you in your journey and a song by Mary Mary that talks all about running towards God.
- Read Hebrews 11 and notice how the people listed in the chapter chose to follow God.
- Read the devotional How Well Do You Really Know God?
- Read the devotional Choose This, Not That: Empty Pursuits vs. Pursing God
- Listen to the song I’m Running – Mary Mary
Mandy Kiluk is a contributor to Deep Spirituality and a University of California, Berkeley alum.
Mandy Kiluk is a contributor to Deep Spirituality and a University of California, Berkeley alum.