Instead, I trace this magnificent obsession to someone I never met, someone with whom I have little else in common. He lived long ago, in a foreign culture, in a patriarchal society, in an idolatrous home. His life was full of twists and turns, riches and losses, deceit and redemption, failure and success. Nevertheless, he became a spiritual mentor to me.
The person who motivated me to pursue a God-filled life, the person whose own magnificent obsession is as powerfully contagious today as it was four thousand years ago, is Abraham.
His name means “father of nations.” He was the father of the Israelites, Ishmaelites and Edomites. Although he claimed no religion, three religions claimed him as their patriarch — Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
Let me tell you how we met. . . .
In 1976, I taught a Bible study about Genesis. After wrestling with the mind-expanding, controversial, fundamental first 11 chapters, something happened that I hadn’t anticipated. The text blossomed for me into the biography of Abraham – and my life changed forever.
As I saturated myself in the text, Abraham walked off the pages and into my life – a very ordinary man who became extraordinary for one primary reason – he made the critical choice to embrace a God-filled life, to pursue knowing God and making Him known through living a life of obedient faith.
Whatever God told him to do, he did, even to the point of being willing to sacrifice his son, Isaac.
And when he disobeyed and fell flat on his face, such as when he lied to the Egyptians and told them that Sarah was his sister instead of his wife, he got back up. That’s what we all should do – pick ourselves up and take up where we left off.
Abraham’s initial choice for God was followed by a series of choices that were worked out on the anvil of his life. Each subsequent choice not only reinforced the first one but became the stepping-stone for the one that would follow.
Like a hammer striking steel, Abraham made choice after choice after choice until he forged an intimate relationship with God that God acknowledged as a friendship.
‘Why Can’t I?’
And as I studied his life, I thought, “If Abraham could know God like that, then why can’t I?” Because God hasn’t changed, he’s the same yesterday, today and forever. So if Abraham could know God in a relationship God acknowledged as a friendship, then there is no reason that I couldn’t know him in that kind of relationship, too.
Knowing him has become the magnificent obsession of my life that grows and intensifies with each passing moment. I don’t want to know Him as someone says he might be like, or thinks He might be like, or was told He might be like. I want to know God as he truly is … and make Him known to you.
I am not content with organized religion. God is offering us not a denomination, not a religion, not an organization, not an institution; he is offering us a personal relationship with himself.
I want to know God as Abraham did – the Bible describes Abraham as God’s friend. What an achievement!
Friendship with God
It would be one thing if I told you that the President of the United States was my friend. You might smile rather skeptically. But it would be an entirely different matter if the president were to say, “Anne Graham Lotz is my friend.” The president’s personal perspective would make all the difference in how seriously the relationship would be viewed.
And since the Bible also says that God does not change, that He is the same yesterday, today and forever, then I decided that if I don’t know God as Abraham did, nothing is wrong with God … there must be something wrong with the way I am living out my Christian life.
As Abraham made the choice to pursue a God-filled life, God promised to bless him. Through Abraham’s descendants, He gave the law that taught people how to live a life that not only worked but would be pleasing to Him.
He gave the historical record of His interaction with His people that revealed not only the glory of His character but also the fact that He was involved in the details of their lives. He gave the prophets, whose writings revealed that He was in charge and working out a divine plan for His people that would climax in the coming of the Messiah.
But when I first thought about it, it didn’t seem like Abraham, after a lifetime of pursuing God, had much to show for those promises. And then I realized that at the end of his life, he had a relationship with God that God described as a friendship.
We can, too.
Taken from The Magnificent Obsession by Anne Graham Lotz Copyright © 2009 by Anne Graham Lotz. Used by permission of Zondervan.
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