Categories
God Salvation

Still…

“A lot of times when we are struggling with questions and we ask people for answers, they throw really eloquent and stuffy answers back at us. And we know they haven’t actually found those answers for themselves. They are just saying what someone else said. That was never good enough for me. I had to find the answers myself.

– Jonathan Wilson

I stopped making New Year resolutions years back when it struck me that if I really wanted to change, today was as good a day as any. Today could be any day. Not just the beginning of the year.

The strange thing though is that I started off this year by making a commitment to God to fully submit my life to Him. Then life happened. As it usually does. And that commitment became a thorn in my side. A constant reminder of a broken promise.

Little did I know that my entire life would be turned upside down.

And He’d hold me to my promise.

2012.

The year I hit rock bottom.

Hard.

That was by far the loneliest, scariest pit I’ve been in. Yeah, I’ve seen my share of them. Usually I just claw my way out. This one though… I didn’t even know where to begin. So I just sat there in the darkness, helpless.

And in my most desperate moment…

I found God.

I haven’t stopped finding Him since.

Every day I encounter Him anew.

He has become the very air I breathe. I know that this sounds like some nice play on words but it’s not. It’s my daily reality. So beautifully and intricately intertwined is my heart with His that I can no longer tell where He ends and I begin. I am NOTHING without Him.

For the first time in my life I’m not looking back on a year with thoughts of what could have been. Everything that needed to be has been.

I have no worries about the one ahead. God has shown me the craziest blueprint of what my year will look like. In one word: ridiculous. Yet I’m walking into it wrapped in His presence, secure in His embrace. What more could I ask for?

I’m straddling the fence between the past and the future. Perched atop the present. Truly at peace with all three.

He says, “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalms 46:10

I am still.

I know He is God.

I finally get it.

I pray that you do as well.

“Stunning.

He was given a name to explain exactly where He is during my deepest need.

He is Emmanuel – God is with us.

He is not a concept, a theory or a theology. He is not a system or a religion. He is not an icon, a figurehead, or a mythical movement leader. He is not an allegory. He is not an ideal. He is not a way of life. He is not a memory. He is not experienced in the past or the future.

He is not a static-drenched echo from a far off land. He is not once, or at one time. He is not less real now than He was to those who could touch Him. He is not the property of the pietistic, of any denomination or location. He is not a fable created to make children shape up. He is not here more for those on their game. He is not over there, up there, away from here.

He is not withheld. He is not unwilling. He is not less here because we haven’t called on Him enough. He is not a bedtime story. He is not capricious or sporadic. He is not every now and then, or on special occasions. He is not only in the miracle. He is not here because you called hard enough. He is not here because you earned it. He is not ever absent.

He has not forgotten. He is not weaker, less able than back then. He is not beyond where your prayers reach. He is not vague. He is not here in spirit. He is not here in a metaphor. He is not here in a riddle or a formula. He is not here by wishing He was real.

He is here. Right now. Fully, completely. He is in you, around you, with you, over you, about you, for you, on time, in the middle of, surrounding you and the ones you love, in complete power, communicating as clearly as any time in history, doing perfectly to you, for you, by you, thinking about you every moment, walking directly into the middle of your worst day, your worst moment, your worst fear, your pain, your loneliness, your doubts, your insecurity, your sickness, your tragedy, your fragileness, your hope, your joy, your peace, your dreams, your relationships, your love, your longing to have your life count.

He is here. He is champion and author of every beauty you find yourself longing for. He is the one who stands over you in the darkest hour. He is lifting you up, when you are too exhausted, too devastated, too hopeless, too failed, too compromised, too far gone.

He is in this season. He is with you driving alone in the car, pushing a cart amidst the mind-numbing department store music, the hurting ones you can’t get to, the loss you can’t comfort, the change you can’t stop, the party you drive by, the memory of past Christmases you can’t bring back.

He is here. Listening to every word, forming answers and intimacy stronger than words. He is here in the music that draws your new nature to the sounds of heaven. He is here in the eternal.

He is here, drawing you to the Cross in this very moment, to fall down in awe of the endless love He is displaying right now, to show you the moment of the Resurrection and to bring it into this moment.

He is here to protect you from the despair, the condemning voices, the regrets. He is here to stop you from plotting a way out of your marriage. He is here to help you completely find your life after your marriage. He is here to show you the new way, in this new season.

He is here to whisper who you are in Him and who He is in you. He is here to stroll the lanes with you, hands in pockets, smiling, with all the time in the world. He is here to declare your worth. He is here to be glorified, enjoyed, trusted, loved and worshipped by you. He is here, to stare at the lights right next to you.

Right now, right here. He is here, whether you want Him here or not. He is here in all power, doing exactly right, even when you don’t believe it. He is here in the pain you never thought He’d allow. He is here in the yelling at Him you never thought you’d ever dare. He is here completely, in full Person, for you and you alone in this moment.

He is God with me, God with us, God with them, God with the wicked and twisted and vile, all at once. He is with the shivering homeless one, with the starving mother who can’t get out to find food. He is unafraid to be present in a world that questions why He allowed, why He doesn’t do more, why He doesn’t stop it all. He is here and does not deflect our accusations. He is here in our arrogance and self-righteous imagining that we care more than He does. He is perfect love poured out and fused in. He is my new name, Christ in me! He is Emmanuel.

He is not here the way we demand. He is here exactly in the way we need…

and all it takes to experience it, is to trust that who He is named is actually true.

– John Lynch

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