Spiritual Growth and Christian Living Resources

I Can't See or Hug Jesus; How Can We Have a 'Relationship?'

I Can't See or Hug Jesus; How Can We Have a 'Relationship?'

My grandson does not like being alone. Whether he wants his juice cup from upstairs or a toy from downstairs, he insists that I go with him. 

Trying to curtail my continual involvement in all the up and down, I’ve tried to convince him numerous times that I can see him from my seat, point out that the lights are on, and coax him to leave doors open. All without success.

His steadfast insistence reminds me of a story I once heard. 

Unable to go to sleep because of her fear, a preschooler crawled into her daddy’s lap. In his efforts to comfort her, he did his best to assure her that she need not fear because Jesus was with her. Lip still quivering, she whimpered that she would sure feel much better if she could just see Jesus.

What this little one longed for was Jesus with skin on.

Honestly, isn’t that how it is with us as well? Aching for a relationship with Him, we’re sure we could develop a deep and intimate one—if only we could see Him!  

The Truth about Relationships

It is generally acknowledged that certain elements are required for the building of any relationship. Among them are time, communication, and care.

Relationships take time. They are built in process and by investment. The strongest relationships develop from frequent, distraction-free quality time spent together.

One important aspect of quality time is that the time together is being used to get to know each other better. Great communication skills such as asking questions and listening well are essential to this purpose.

Additionally, relationships need to be nurtured. Great care and attention must be given to their growth and quality.

A Relationship with Jesus

God wants a relationship with us. From cover to cover, this is the theme of the entire Bible.

As well, we crave a relationship with Him. In His great wisdom and by His remarkable design, our soul was created with an insatiable longing—for Him. Many verses attest to this in the Bible. Psalm 63:1 and Psalm 143:6 are just a few.  

And so to develop this relationship, of course as humans we’d love to be able to see or hug Jesus in the flesh. It might make things easier in pursuing this relationship, but skin is not a requirement. 

Time, communication, and nurture. These are the building blocks of relationship, and they can be implemented even though we cannot see or hug Jesus. 

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5 Ways to Invest in Your Relationship with Jesus

One of the most effective ways to build a relationship with Jesus is through the spiritual practices. 

Disciplines such as engaging with Scripture, expressing gratitude, praying, experiencing times of solitude, and reflecting are vital ways of carrying out the required elements for building relationship. 

This is as true for us today as it was for Jesus during His time on the Earth. In the Gospels, we read that Jesus learned and grew in His relationship with His Father. Further examination of His life shows us that Jesus spent much time engaging in the spiritual disciplines. 

He meditated on Scripture, prayed, sought out solitude, kept the Sabbath, and more. For Jesus, time with His Father was the most important thing. In this precious time spent together, relationship was built.

This is also where our relationship with God is built—in the spiritual disciplines. Rather than looking on them as draining obligations, we need to begin viewing spiritual practices as a place for connecting with God and nurturing our relationship with Him.

Consider the following five spiritual disciplines as a locus for investing time, good communication, and care into your relationship with Jesus.

1. Engage with Scripture 

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly….”Colossians 3:16a

As a spiritual discipline, engaging with Scripture means to read, study, and meditate on the words of the Bible.  It also includes memorizing passages, praying Scripture, journaling verses, and attending organized Bible studies. 

When we sit with God’s Word, actively exercising our minds through the careful consideration of a passage in its original context, mulling over its meaning, and evaluating its application to our life, a place for connecting with God is created. Invite Him in. Attend, ask questions, listen well.

Engaging with Scripture helps to build our relationship with Jesus as we are shaped by and connected with the Person that Scripture proclaims. 

2. Express Gratitude  

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:17

Gratitude is the recognition of gifts and kindnesses received. 

An inward feeling, our gratitude needs to be expressed. In fact, it is generally recognized that the giving of thanks affords us many benefits such as lower stress levels, better sleep, focus and clarity, improved physical and psychological health, and increased resilience. 

This is great news for all of us, but for Christ-followers there is even more. Our expressions of gratitude to God help turn our focus to Him and bring our hearts back to center.

The practice of recognizing gifts, acknowledging the Giver, and expressing gratitude enables us to see His work in our lives, increases our trust, and helps us connect with Him. All of which leads to a deepened relationship with One who is unseen.  

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3. Pray

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” – James 5:16

The spiritual discipline of prayer is a powerful way to build relationship with Jesus. 

Conversing with God about what we are experiencing and about what, together with Him, we are doing is time spent in deep and sincere communication. Additionally, the quality and growth of our relationship is nurtured as we open our lives to and acknowledge our total dependence on Him. 

A relationship with Jesus can surely be built and strengthened through prayer.

3. Experience Times of Solitude

“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”Mark 6:31

Have you ever noticed how many times it is recorded in the Bible that Jesus went away to a quiet place? His need for solitude—uninterrupted time with the Father—was so great that He often left the crowds and the work behind to observe it.

Solitude as a spiritual practice is the intentional refrain from interaction with other people...to be alone with God. Even though we cannot see Him or hug Him, in this quiet place of communion we experience His presence and build our relationship. 

4. Reflect

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me,  and lead me in the way everlasting.”Psalm 139:23-24

Personal reflection or soul-searching is the spiritual practice of paying attention to our sin so that we might grow in our love for God and others.

Paying attention helps to reveal those things that draw us away from God. Through it we learn more about ourselves than we ever knew before, things that need to be acknowledged and dealt with. We can invite Jesus to help address and heal our fear, anger, bitterness, judgmental attitudes, worry, pride and so much more. 

Practicing relationship with Jesus in these ways may be difficult sometimes, but it’s so beneficial. For it is through the recognition, acknowledgment, and release to God of the very hard things in our lives that we are drawn closer to Him, deepening our relationship.  

Do you want to have a relationship with Jesus? Engage with Scripture, express gratitude for His love, pray with Him, create times of solitude to be in the presence of his grace and power, and reflect. 

These spiritual disciplines invite us to build and strengthen a relationship with the One whom we can neither see nor hug.

Deborah Haddix is the author of Soul Nourishment: Satisfying Our Deep Longing for GodShe also serves as co-coordinator for Christian Grandparenting Network’s Grandparents Day of Prayer. Deborah writes, blogs, speaks, and coaches on topics related to biblical grandparenting, other life relationships, and soul care. Read the blog and find resources at her website.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Motortion

Deborah Haddix is the author of Soul Nourishment: Satisfying Our Deep Longing for God. She also serves as Prayer Resources, Education, and Training Coordinator for Christian Grandparenting Network. Deborah writes, blogs, speaks, and coaches on topics related to biblical grandparenting, other life relationships, and soul care. Read the blog and find resources at her website.

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