For the last year or so, some of my students have been discussing the possibility of me starting a YouTube channel in which I discuss and answer questions about Jesus. When the discussion first started, it seemed like a fun challenge to take on, but with teaching full-time and working on my PhD, there just was not time for it last year. I am excited to announce today, though, that I have finally started that YouTube Channel.
You can check it out here. Subscribe while you are there!
The channel is directed mainly by the questions that subscribers ask (which is currently only my students), and I figured I would start with the most basic of questions.
What does it mean/look like to have a relationship with Jesus?
This is a great question. I think some practical tips on walking with God or growing/having a relationship with God are a great place to begin. I thought it would also be great to set up a good frame of mind to have when approaching this subject. When students ask me questions about this subject, I usually like to discuss the idea of riding a bike and how this closely relates to the idea of walking with God.
I often hear students say that they want to walk with God or try the “having a relationship with Jesus” thing, but they feel like they do not know how to or they are intimidated and overwhelmed by the idea. Because of this frequent response, I have discovered that relating walking with God to riding a bike helps students and teenagers to wrap their minds around the idea.
A very simple, basic fact about riding a bike is that you will never actually learn to ride a bike if you do not ever actually get onto the bike and start trying. Most of us likely remember (at least somewhat) our experiences of learning how to ride a bike. If you are anything like me, you even have a fun scar to remember that experience by. Obviously, I crashed the bike quite a few times during the learning process before I figured out how to balance and keep the bike moving forward. I have a nice, round scar on my wrist as evidence, and I often pretended it was a built-in watch as a kid. Eventually, though, I grew in my skills. By the time I was entering middle school, I felt like I was a master bike rider. I did a lot of bike riding in my day, and I grew quite comfortable doing a number of simple tricks and skills on my bike. I often rode my bike with no hands, and I knew every mound in the neighborhood perfect for jumping. I have many fond memories of riding bikes growing up, but the reality is that had I never taken that first step (crashes included) and actually learned to ride, I would not have any bike riding memories. The crash and burn step was a necessary, even though scary, part of the process.
In a very similar way, the same idea applies to walking with God. When students tell me that they just do not know how to walk with God and that this keeps them from actually pursuing a relationship they are interested in, I tell them that it is just like riding a bike. They just have to get on the bike, and then, keep getting on the bike. There may be many crashes along the way, and maybe even a few crashes into thorn bushes, but eventually, they will be cruising easily along.
In my own personal journey of walking with God, the beginning was rocky. I mostly felt unsure of myself and somewhat childish. There was so much about the Bible and God and Jesus that I did not know. Everything I read seemed to be completely foreign or completely brand new to me. I usually walked away from my devotional times with more questions than answers, and that can begin to weigh on a person. Thankfully, God so desires that we be in intimate relationship with Him, that He allows Himself, and even provides for Himself, to be known by us. His word is full of this encouraging fact.
“… If you seek him, he will be found by you…”
1 Chronicles 28:9
“… those who seek me diligently find me.”
“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
“and without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
Fear of the unknown often hinders us from ever embarking on journeys and adventures that could change the course of our lives. The journey of a life walking with God is incomparable to any other experience we can ever have. I have witnessed far too many students and even friends express interest and desire in pursuing God but end up never doing so because they simply fear the unknown. They just do not get onto the bike and allow the first few crashes to happen. I am so thankful that I was surrounded by friends that encouraged me to continue opening my Bible everyday and allowing myself to ask questions about God’s word. Their encouragement helped me to develop the discipline of continuing to have devotional times each morning. That discipline eventually turned into a habit, and as that habit grew, I became more and more comfortable during my devotional times. Now, I rarely think twice about grabbing my Bible and a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. These times are comforting and I desire them because I no longer experience fear or the unknown. I know before I even sit down that God will meet me where I am and that I will walk away refreshed, encouraged, and transformed.
Not every person learns to ride a bike. My nephew was so shook by his very first attempt at riding a bike that he refused to try again for many years. He was rather late in joining the party. Learning to ride a bike or not, though, will not really affect our lives in the long run. Pursuing God will. One of my greatest passions is to teach people not only the greatness and goodness of who God is, but also that it is possible to be in relationship with Him. Tangible, life-changing relationship. It truly is as simple as just getting onto the bike for the first time, and then continuing to get on the bike day after day. Eventually, and likely before you even know it, you will be coasting down the path of life with God.