The Longest 18 Inches
Suppose a little boy is walking along hand in hand with his father through the park. At one point during their walk the father stops. He lifts his son into his arms, embraces him tightly, kisses him and says, “Son, I love you!” The little boy knew his father loved him when their walk first began. He knew and experienced it in a whole new way when he was wrapped up in his father’s arms.
Friends, God doesn’t just want us to know about him. He wants us to know him personally. This is more than just an academic understanding or a sterile, cerebral faith. He calls us to have a relationship with him.
Sometimes this can be a struggle. It has been said the distance between our head and our heart is the longest 18 inches. It is one thing to understand what God has done. It is another when that truth is applied to you personally. Sometimes the truths we know with our mind get lodged along the way. God may even allow us to take a hit to the chest to shake them loose so they reach our hearts.
Perhaps you’ve been there. We know the Scriptures point to Jesus’ words and works. Those teachings are rightly the foundation for our faith. But sometimes this knowledge may simply be an intellectual exercise.
Then God allows a test of your faith. Maybe it was your health, family or finances. The hardship shakes you to your core like a pair of defibrillator paddles. Those days proving God is not enough; I can only walk by faith.
That defining moment forces you to come to grips with the reality of God’s promises. He promised he will never leave us nor forsake us. He promised he can work all things for our good. He promised nothing can separate us from his love. Will those promises be shaken from me or travel the long 18-inch journey until it takes root and settles in my heart?
When the Spirit plants those truths in your heart it gives you new perspective. If someone as powerful as God is with me, loves me, has gone to infinite depths to save me and one day will take everything bad out of my life then what do I need to fear?
Friends, this distinction is pronounced in witnessing. Some are more likely to argue correct faith and they end up debating. Their focus is speaking mind to mind. However, others take the objective truths and then pause to reflect on them personally. You can say, “Jesus saved the world.” You can also say “Jesus saved me.” This allows you to share God’s unchanging truths with new confidence in a way that is truly heart to heart.
This is especially important as we reach out to our Mormon friends because they perceive spiritual values through emotions.
Begin with the foundation of God’s unchanging truths, but don’t stop there. Share the personal impact. Speak about your peace, your assurance, your hope and your joy. Share those dear promises the Spirit has deeply embedded within your heart.
In a private moment Jesus asked his disciples “Who do you say I am?” (Luke 9:20). It calls for a personal response. Your head holds on to the truths which proclaim him. Your heart clings with wonder and delight at his love. Share the answer to that question with both your head and your heart!