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Well, I sit writing this BLOG in my favorite city in the world, Florence (Firenze), in the Tuscany region of Italy. It’s been years since I’ve been here and, not surprisingly, things don’t change too quickly here.  But this time I’m staying longer this time, concentrating on the heartbeat of this city specifically: the home of the Italian Renaissance, the place where the piano(forte) was invented, where DaVinci, Michelangelo, and Dante called home…along with countless other artists and writers.

I travelled here often, in memory, through the photos I took from the last time I was here, and once again felt the warm sun, listened to the music, tasted the wine, and remembered things I had forgotten since that trip.  It is always a great diversion.

As I looked through those photos and dreamed of this trip, I thought of a specific moment in time, when I stood on a rise looking out over Tuscan fields, gazing at a village and church on the horizon, vineyards, and orchards between.  It was sunset, and I said to myself: “No photo, painting or story does justice to this place, no matter how beautiful they may be.  None of those things can match the moment of actually seeing this with one’s own eyes.”

There is a difference between “knowing about” something and “knowing” something. 

It’s the same with people.  It’s the same with God. We are taught (and I believe) that the scripture tells us about God.  I believe that is true, at least one side of the truth.  The Scripture does tell us about God, but so does His creation, and so do His children.  His Spirit in us is also a witness to the personality of God.  But all those things share ABOUT God, none of those things are a substitute for KNOWING God.

To know ABOUT God is not the same as KNOWING God.  After all, lots of people know about God, and that knowledge doesn’t seem to change them in the least.  The people who have been changed, who live a full life, who walk with peace inside and out, who seem to pour out “springs of living water” are people who don’t just KNOW ABOUT God, but they are people who KNOW God.

The process of getting to know God is like getting to know anyone else.  We find out about our family and friends by spending time with them, getting to understand their likes and dislikes, catering to them, supporting them, and staying in contact with them.  We don’t maintain relationships with our loved ones by reading about them.  

There is a difference between “knowing about” something and “knowing” something.

Jesus’ wish is that we know Him, not just know about Him.  He wants us to spend time talking and listening to Him.  He wants us to love Him by loving each other.  He wants us to look for Him everywhere, to turn to Him all the time, to be with Him forever.  That’s going to take more than just reading the scripture and calling it good.  We’re going to have to trust the Spirit of God to lead us into places that we wouldn’t ordinarily go.  We’re going to need to trust in our own God-given common sense and ability to trust His Spirit in us when it comes to situations that are not mentioned in the scripture.  We are going to have to KNOW that God is real, despite the fact that His personhood is not defined by OUR understanding of what a “person” should be, in fact it’s just the opposite: our personhood is defined by the fact that we are created in HIS image and not visa versa.

There is a difference between “knowing about” something and “knowing” something.

I have some wonderful memories and photos of Tuscany, but none of them ARE Tuscany.  The images are representations of a small portion of that place.  The SCRIPTURE shows us part of who God is. The SPIRIT shares with us knowledge as we need it. NATURE is a portion of what God has created, and OUR OWN HEARTS & MINDS contain a touch of His personality.   

But to KNOW God requires regarding Him as the friend He wishes to be.  It requires spending time with Him in the everyday things, trusting the Spirit in us to believe Him when we hear Him and see Him, even when others may not. 

It is a lifelong task, and we have a never-ending lifetime to make it happen.