Ever miss seeing God because you were too busy being religious? Its easy to do. Manoah, the father of Samson did. You can read Judges 13. His sterile wife receives a Heavenly visitor who declares that she is going to have a son. He will be set apart for God's service from birth. She has some special directives to follow so the boy is consecrated out of the womb. Manoah missed everything but feels the weight of the responsibility. He asks God for a redo on the visit so they know how to raise the boy. God honors the request. Manoah asks his questions, God answers and then Manoah goes into religious mode. Its not bad. He wants to be hospitable to the guest and so offers to slaughter a young goat. He then asks for the name of the guest so he and his wife can honor him when their son is born. All the time he misses the fact that this is the angel of the Lord. This is God Himself.
Notice the graciousness of God. He repeats His directions for the task. We are slow and He is patient. We offer Him cultural rituals. He declines the meal but directs Manoah to do a "fellowship offering." He clearly wants to have relational interactions with us. The issue is that Manoah was thinking on a peer to peer basis (a meal) and God requires that we still acknowledge Him as God. He opened the way for the holy interaction. Like Moses taking off his shoes because God made the ground holy, Manoah has to come with a proper offering to sit down with God. We come to Him boldly through Christ today. But our boldness is not an excuse for brashness. He is still God and we are not. God then does something marvelous during the interaction. In the midst of the offering He leaves no doubt who He is. He ascends back to Heaven in the flames of the offering. What a marvelous God. Religious Manoah becomes afraid because they have seen God and no one does that and lives. As Manoah's wife observes, if He intended to harm us He wouldn't have given us a task to do or allow us to fellowship with Him. No reason to fear, just love and serve Him.
I pray that He will help me not miss intimate relationship with Him because I am busy being religious before Him. Religion breeds fear. Walking by faith breeds life.