By Bonnie Mentel

Our pastor recently asked if we were planning to go to heaven. Most of the people in the congregation raised their hands. He brought up the point that some people use the excuse that they will be in heaven with God forever, so why spend time with Him now? He said that is the equivalent of someone getting married and deciding that they will get to know their spouse after they’re married instead of during their engagement period.

This is our engagement period. We should be getting to know God now. When we get to know Him, we get closer to Him.

For me, getting close to God consists of many things. It means spending time reading the Bible every day, even if it is just a chapter at a time. It means having a consistent prayer life, because prayer is our way to talk to God. It also means regularly attending church and participating in worship with other Christians. This past semester, I was able to join a Bible study. I noticed that the more I went, the more I had a desire to learn about God’s Word.

Volunteering is another way that helps me feel close to God. I imagine that Jesus would always be helping people if He was walking this earth today. Matthew 25: 34-40 (NIV) says, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

Getting close to God means having a relationship with his Son, Jesus.

Romans 10:10-12 tells you how to do this. “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

I hope and pray that 2016 will be a year that draws you closer to God.