Categories
God

Can God Call You Friend?

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

Categories
Salvation

An Encounter With God (Part 3): The Narrow Path

Read Part One here.

Read Part Two here.

“Majesty, Majesty,

Your grace has found me just as I am,

Empty-handed but alive in Your hands,

Majesty, Majesty,

Forever I am changed by Your Love,

In the presence of Your Majesty.”

                           – Delirious (Majesty)

Every story has a beginning, middle and end. Mine is no different. You’re not going to find a conclusion in this post though. My story isn’t over! Far from it.

Salvation may start with a prayer but it’s not supposed to end there as is often the case with many people. There’s a process we all need to go through. One where God destroys our old wineskins, gives us new ones and then pours in His wine; which as the people in John 2 discovered, is the best there is.

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment and make the tear worse.

Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins  If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

– Matthew 9:16-17 (NIV)

So many of us are going to God to get our clothes (read lives) patched up. Yet He wants to give us brand new clothes (read lives)! It doesn’t matter how many “anointed” hands are laid on you, how many sermons make you feel blessed, how many church ministries/departments you’re in, how many Bible studies you’re part of, how close you get to the pastor/reverend/bishop/insert title here, how many seeds you sow, how many of these things you do for whatever the reason you do them, unless you have encountered God, had Him get rid of your old wine skin and gotten a new one, all you’re doing is going round the mountain like the Israelites did in Exodus.

Round and round and round, seasons changing but your life still in the same square radius. Still struggling with the same issues. Still going back to the same sins. Still kinda-sorta saved. Thinking you’re headed to Canaan yet you’re nowhere near it. Because you’re trying to pour new wine into an old wineskin that simply doesn’t have the capacity to hold it.

The greatest gift we get from the Cross isn’t the forgiveness of our sins or a gate-pass into heaven, it’s God Himself. The veil has been torn. The veil has been torn! My God, we don’t understand the sheer magnitude of what You did, do we?

These things that we do…these attempts we make to get close to God are all futile if we skip out on encountering Him. You will never be truly satisfied until you have God Himself. These things and these people cannot take the place of God. They are merely meant to lead you to Him. Not take His place.

“(I am) convinced that church, HIS music, HIS books & HIS people can only satisfy for a season…after that only GOD HIMSELF can satisfy.” (God chasers)

– @WaihigaMwaura

I’m not going to lie to you. Encountering God won’t be a walk in the park at first. God will never compete with anyone or anything for your attention and affection. Are you kidding me? He is the Creator of heaven, earth and you as well. He loves you but He’s certainly not going to beg. Encountering Him means putting aside anyone and anything that would challenge His position as Lord of your life. And just for the record, Lord means master.

Anything that comes between you and God is either a prop or an idol. A prop is something or someone you depend on more than you do God. An idol is something/someone that governs your life; influences you and the decisions you make.

Props and idols are rarely what we expect them to be…because often they are the things and people we love most.

If God told you to quit school and preach the gospel, would you?

If He told you to leave your friends, ALL your friends, and dedicate a whole year to spending time with Him, would you?

If God told you to leave your boyfriend/girlfriend, would you?

If He told you to quit your job and sell all your belongings and move to a new country, would you?

I know what you’re thinking: God loves me. He’d never ask me to do something that crazy. Guess again. God does love you. More than you could imagine. But I didn’t make those things up. The first is Cornelius Lindsey’s story. Second one is a friend of mine’s and in part my own. Third one is part of a good number of testimonies I’ve read and heard. Fourth one is the modern-day version of Abraham’s story.

Why would a God who loves us make us let go of things and people who mean so much to us?

Anything that you would choose over God has power over you. Anything that has power over you has the ability to destroy you. Let me repeat that.

Anything and anyone who has power over you, has the ability to destroy you.

What started as petty jealousy for Cain, grew into anger and eventually ended with him killing his brother. (Genesis 4:4-8)

Do I need to remind anyone about Samson and Delilah? (Judges 16)

Judas Iscariot’s love for money led him to betray the Son of God. He went to the chief priests, they didn’t come to him. (Matthew 26:14-16)

These things and people we love so much may seem harmless right now but you can’t see beyond the corner on the road. God can. I’m not saying they’re all necessarily bad. But our attachment to them certainly can be detrimental. Especially when the day comes when we must choose between them and God. And we choose them.

The biggest prop/idol there ever was? The self. That’s right. You are your biggest prop and idol. People will give up a lot of things. They’ll even leave people and family behind. But the one thing only a few do, is give up the self. Their dreams. Their wants and desires. Their will.

Allow yourself to die.

It goes against every instinct we have and yet it’s what we must do. You have to die. There can only be one God in your life and so long as you still live, you will never let Him take His rightful place. Whether consciously or not, you will push Him to the very edges of your life…because it’s still your life. Not His.

And for as long as that’s the case, He can’t reveal the depths of His truth, His love…the depths of Himself to you. You’ll be stuck trying to use a song, a sermon, a ministry, a prayer, etc to make you feel closer to God. When He’s standing right in front of you with His arms wide open.

“Jesus says it’s the narrow Gate and the narrow Path that leads to Life, and only a few will find it. (Matthew 7:13-14) There is a Path that you must walk, and the Path is a process that Jesus calls “discipleship”.

Discipleship is not an optional extra to people who are already born-again.

Many people just want to trust in Jesus to save them from their sins and take them to heaven when they die, but they don’t want the process of discipleship. They are willing to enter into the Gate, but they are not willing to walk the Path.

Many Christians have entered the Gate, but very few of them are actually walking the Path. There they are, sitting just inside the Gate, rejoicing in a future hope, rejoicing in a future reward, but they don’t realize that being a disciple of Jesus doesn’t simply mean praying a prayer or believing something or joining something.

It’s a process – a journey.

– The School of Christ

I can actually picture Jesus at the door of our Father’s house. It’s wide open and everything’s set for our arrival. All the angels and saints are ready for the reception. But everyone’s puzzled. Because the treasured guests they’ve been waiting for got so excited by the gate they decided to sit there. A lavish banquet with the King of Kings awaits them inside the house. All they have to do is walk up the path and  into the house. But these people decided to stop at the gate. The gate?!

For how long are we going to be so blind?

For how long are we going to be so foolish?