“As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?”1

I love this prayer because it expresses a need for God on a primal level, like a deer searching for water. Thirst is an involuntary reaction, and a need that requires fulfillment.

It has taken me a long time to understand that the need for a relationship with God is embedded in my soul. It is not something I need to create, but something I need to recognize. For years I stressed over my relationship with God, trying to define what “close” looked like.

What I was really after was a formula, because I didn’t actually understand relationship. Does 15 minutes of prayer plus 30 minutes of Bible study produce a close relationship? What about a bonus 20 minutes of sharing spiritual insights in a group? Does it only count if I try to hear God’s still small voice in my heart? But how do I know if the voice I hear is His? How can I be sure that He and I indeed are “in relationship”?

The Hebrew word “yada” means “to know.” But the word isn’t referring to knowledge, memorized facts, formulas, and definitions. It speaks of intimacy, discovery, and understanding. This word appears often in Scripture; for example: “In all your ways yada Him, and He shall direct your paths.”2

I think it’s saying that the deeper we know God, the more we will recognize His way, His truth, and His wonder. And the more we will find Him showing up in a beautiful sunrise, in shared laughter and conversation, in a delicious bite of food, in an embrace, in beautiful music, in a great cup of coffee, in an intense-but-respectful debate, a challenging workout, a humble apology, a problem solved, in good news and even in less-than-good news, in life’s beginnings and endings.

My heart, and yours, has the freedom to pursue God. His Word tells us that “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”3 His Word is true and living, reliable and unfailing. He simply wants us to seek Him, yada Him, so that He can direct our paths to the fullest life possible.

  1. Psalm 42:1–2 NLT
  2. Proverbs 3:6
  3. Jeremiah 29:13