Imagine if you woke up tomorrow morning and the first thing God tells you is to pack up your bags and head out to destination X, a place you’ve never been and know precious little about. No explanation as to what you’ll be up to. Just go.
I’d do it in a heartbeat.
Seriously I would. And it’s not because I’m braver or crazier than anyone else. (Though my crazy levels have a life of their own lol…)
Had He asked the same of me at the beginning of the year, I would have made every excuse in the book and invented a few more for good measure. What’s changed?
These past few months I’ve developed quite the personal history with God.
See, the way you respond to your best friend since childhood is very different from the way you respond to someone you’ve just met. You have history with your friend. In all likelihood you’ve seen the best and worst of each other. You know that you can trust them because they have proven themselves trustworthy time and time again.
It’s really no different with God.
The more time you’ve spent with God, the more experiences you’ve shared with Him, the better you’ve gotten to know Him, the easier it is to trust Him.
You can’t trust someone you don’t know.
You can’t (truly) love someone you don’t know.
You’re definitely not going to surrender to someone you don’t know.
Many of the things God asks of us-trust, love, surrender, faith, et al-are not things you would ask of a perfect stranger. They are things that naturally require a bond to be established. Throughout the Bible God goes out of His way to establish this bond with His people.
Case in point how He handled Moses in Exodus 3 and 4. Moses had no idea who God was at the time. I’m sure he’d heard all the tales about the God of Abraham and how He was supposed to save them from the Egyptians. But at the time they were just that, stories. And He was just that, God of Abraham. Not God of Moses.
So when God appears to Him, through a burning bush that’s not burning no less, and tells him to go back to Egypt where he’s a wanted man, his response is a not very surprising couldn’t-you-just-get-someone-else-to-do-it.
God gets a little frustrated and angry with Moses and his excuses, but He doesn’t give up on him. He understands that a bond between Him and Moses will take time to establish. And so long as Moses takes that first step of faith and trust, which he eventually does, then God is willing to work at it.
Fast-forward to Exodus 33 and you find a very different Moses. He’s had a front row seat to God freeing the Israelites from the Egyptians which involved all manner of jaw-dropping stunts like parting the Red Sea. Not only has he seen what God can do, he has a much better understanding of who God is. He took that first step alright but he didn’t stop there. He intentionally seeks God. He would take a tent, pitch it and get inside. A cloud pillar, which signified God’s presence, would come down and stay at the entrance. “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face as a man speaks with his friend.” (Exodus 33:12) The God of Abraham has now become the God of Moses.
Is it just me who marvels at the depth of their relationship? God, GOD, spoke to man as one friend speaks to another. Why do we settle for so little when we could have so much? God is offering Himself to us and we’re content with silly little things that will fade away with this world.
Encountering God isn’t rocket science.
Neither is being His friend.
You learn to trust by trusting. You learn to love by loving. You learn to surrender by surrendering. You learn to obey by obeying. Whatever God asks of us, we learn to give to Him by giving to Him. And as we give, the bond between God and us grows. Your history with Him grows to the point where saying yes to Him comes automatically. It’s no longer something you have to think about.
As my favourite teacher used to say: “When God says jump, you ask how high in the air.”
The problem with many of us is that we’re simply not willing to make the effort. We couldn’t be bothered. We have no use for God in our lives except when we need Him to do something for us. Do we not understand that He is God? He is God! Not your errand boy.
Choosing relationship over religion has become such a popular Christian mantra. But how many of us truly understand what relationship means? If someone wanted to be your friend and they:
- Scheduled appointments with you…10 minutes or 15 minutes on weekdays depending on how much of a hurry they are in to get to work/school. Weekend plans are based on their mood. Saturdays are unlikely to happen. Sunday could mean a bonus 2 hours (as opposed to the usual 10 minutes), that’s if it doesn’t rain.
- Make demands, telling you everything they want and need from you, never once stopping to ask you how you are.
- Talk about you…talk at you…like you’re not even in the same room yet you’re sitted right next to them.
how much of a friend would you consider them?
It’s easy to say “I am a friend of God”. You can even sing and dance to it. But just because you say/sing it, doesn’t make it so.
When was the last time you actually treated God like a friend and not some abstract being somewhere up there who’s on standby for your beck and call? We say we’re in a relationship with God but the things we do wouldn’t even sustain a human relationship much less a divine one.
Some of the attempts we make are honestly pitiful if you think about it. Never in a million years would we condone the same from someone else. Why do we think that God…of all people (or beings if you like), GOD…is okay with it?
When I started out on this journey I was very much like Moses. Quite frankly, I didn’t want to do it. I was going to lose everything I considered important. The whole thing was a major inconvenience at best and the end of life as I knew it at worst.
Little did I know that for every loss I would gain priceless treasure; treasure that goes beyond a life-time and spans for all eternity. By making that decision to die to myself and pursue Him I set my heart up for something so beautiful I struggle to find the appropriate words to describe it.
I didn’t get it right the first time. Or the fortieth. I struggled just like Moses did. But I didn’t give up on Him. And He didn’t give up on me either. It was a choice I made every single day regardless of how good or bad the previous day had been. And please don’t feed me that gall about being busy. Who isn’t? If spending time with God is important to you, you won’t look for time to do it; you’ll go out of your way to make time for it… make time for Him. Believe you me you’ll see the difference it makes.
I’m at a point where God is no longer scheduled into my life. My life is scheduled around God. Because when you have been in God’s incredible presence…when He wraps you with His love that’s so tangible and real it feels like your heart will burst with joy EVERY DAY…when He makes you outrageous promises as a Father then goes on to make each one of them happen as you watch in amazement…when He confides in you as a Friend… when you truly grasp what David meant when he said:
“One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and seek Him in His temple.”
– Psalms 27:4 (NIV)
Then you’ll understand why I’d do something so crazy in a heartbeat.
It’s not what I’m doing.
It’s who I’m doing it for.
Question is: can God call you friend?
“If you’ll make history with God, He’ll make history through you.”
– Bill Johnson