This year I wanted to learn how to commune with God better. Being among Reformed people, you tend to hear a lot of things about having communion with God, and although I’ve been a Christian for many years, I started wondering if I was missing something. So I made it a goal for this year.
Now, I continued having my own regular prayer time and Bible study, but I also read a lot. And today I finished reading the book that has the largest impact on me: John Owen’s Communion with God. Now, the funny thing is that when I asked my husband for a book suggestion, recommended a different book by John Owen on the person of Jesus Christ, but by the time I looked it up, I purchased this book instead. And I have loved every moment of it and had my thinking challenged almost constantly while reading this over the past few months. And I wanted to briefly highlight the main things that I’ve learned over this time.
#1: The love of the Father is real
You know, I know this. God the Father loves us. He has loved us with an everlasting love. He set His love upon us from eternity past, and it is because of His love for us that redemption was accomplished on our behalf. Yes. I do know this, and I’ve known it for years now. But reading Owen’s words made me realize that I don’t think about this nearly as much as I ought to.
Owen combed the depths on this topic. All of the Song of Solomon references actually had me a bit ‘weirded’ out for a while, but I understood what he was trying to say and emphasize. The love of the Father is extraordinarily real. He didn’t just draft a redemption plan and charge Jesus to just love us so He could stand aloof in holiness. No, His love is incredibly intimate, soul-crushingly deep, breathlessly high, and infinitely farther than you could ever hope to imagine. And He takes all of that love, and He loves you and me.
It’s so easy to forget this, or make light of it without meaning to. But without the perpetual love of the Father, we would have nothing.
#2: Take time to understand the privileges we have in Christ
So, I’ll be completely honest here. I have heard people talk about our privileges in Christ for years. And I always nodded in agreement, but I never knew exactly what people meant. So, I finally just asked my husband to talk me through it because it was coming up in Owen’s book. I found out that the “privileges” were not some new thing I needed to discover this late in my Christian walk, but really a phrase to describe all of things that we have gained in and through the mediatorial work of Christ. Who knew!?!?!?
So, my biggest challenge has been actually considering all of these things (i.e. adoption, sanctification through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, access to the Father, union with Christ, a heavenly inheritance, etc.) as legitimate privileges in my life and thinking through the ramifications of each privilege. Consequently, I could not rush through those chapters, and I’m glad that I spent the time to really think on the work of Christ and what that means for my life as His disciple.
I will say this: The more I thought on these things, the greater the privileges became to me. It made me wonder why my faith has not been bolder, considering everything that we have in Christ.
#3: Maintaining a proper view of the ministry of the Holy Spirit
To state it simply, the Holy Spirit takes the things of Christ and applies it to us so that we are increasingly conformed to the image of Christ, and He also reminds us of the Word of God throughout our Christian journey. And again, that is something that I knew well. Owen, I believe, did an excellent job in his book of actually reminding us that the Holy Spirit is still God. He is not at our beck and call. He’s not a “genie in a bottle” that we just have to say the right things for Him to show up and give us what we need. He isn’t the part of the Godhead that you can just manipulate at will. But He does His work in our lives according to His own sovereign will and plan (which is the sovereign will and plan of the entire Godhead).
And it really struck me when I read that because of how easily upset and frustrated we get when God is not responding with the peace, joy, comfort, grace, strength, etc. that we are requesting at any present moment. If we’re honest, praying for some divine help in the midst of something and not receiving it quickly is like the worst thing ever. As a mom, when I’m praying for extra grace, strength, patience, and kindness when I’m dealing with kids and I still lose it, I literally think to myself “WHAT! I prayed about this already! What happened?”
But nevertheless, the Holy Spirit is perfect in everything that He does. He gives us exactly what we need from God, when we need it. Whether it’s remembering a promise from Scripture, comforting us when we face ongoing trials, giving us assurance of sonship when we are in despair over our sinfulness, or anything else, He does His work in our hearts and lives with impeccable timing and accuracy, never a moment too soon or too late.
All in all, reading this book made me realize that I’ve already been in communion with God throughout the years, but it wasn’t something that I paid extensive attention to. But I also recognize that it would be foolish to continue on now without being mindful of it, because I need it. I need to think on these things, contemplate the blessedness of knowing God and being known by God. I need to remember everything that He has done for me and continues to do for me, even when I feel like I am a weak failure. I also need to be mindful of these things when I come to God in prayer so that I can ask rightly for what I need and be patient as I wait for His response.
But all in all, this book has just made me recall the inexpressible joy of having your whole heart and mind wrapped up in God and loving Him more and more for everything you discover. And I know that if we need anything in this life at this present time with the distractions we face on a daily basis, it is to be enraptured heart and mind with God.
Simply put, you just can’t go wrong communing with God.