The true story is told of a Jesuit priest in Bombay who would drive a motorcycle from one end of the city to the other each day, until one day when he was in an accident. He was then in the constant care of a non-Christian doctor.
Sometimes we need to stand before our greatest treasures and say to them, "Of all the things I have and value, you mean the absolute most to me" and then see what happens inside us when we actually say that sentence.
Think about gravity for a moment. It is one of the most powerful forces in the world, and yet it is silent and invisible.
So much of our spirituality and religion is greatly affected by who we know God to be. A.W. Tozer said, "Nothing twists and deforms the soul more than a low or unworthy conception of God." We all have within us a gallery images of who God is, and those images dramatically affect our responses to Him. This gallery greatly affects the faith and religion we live out each day in relationship with God. The trouble is many, if not most of those images are distorted at best or entirely false at worst. This God many of us relate and respond to is not the God of scripture, and we begin to wonder why some of us live out such a grim, hard, and loveless faith each day.
It is because the God we have come to believe is distant and hard to please. God becomes a cold Father demanding your work without encouragement or love or pride in you. It is very difficult to serve that god with enthusiasm or joy. It is difficult not to chalk up other more enthusiastic brothers and sisters to fanaticism when the god you know is cold, removed, and grim. But this is not the God presented in scripture. This is the god of the Pharisees and he will always drive a Pharisaic religion and faith.
The moment I was first ambushed by the love of God is when I came to see the Father of Scripture who loves and delights in me, His son. He comes close to me in a true fellowship where I can find rest and healing. He is not hard to please.
Yes, he disciplines us, but I have come to know His delight and smile. He will correct and challenge me with the smile of a Father who is tender and proud. My Abba is proud of me and knows I am His "imperfect by promising" son. I see His delighted smile which knows I am coming to look more and more like my Abba every day.
Several years ago I quit making resolutions or new years goals. I accepted, then, a challenge to choose only a word for the year. "One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live or what you want to achieve by the end of 2015. One word that you can focus on every day, all year long. It will take hard work, and will require intentionality and commitment. But if you let it, your word will shape you and your year. It will guide your decisions and help you grow.”
This year my word is: PRAYER.
While I would say I am a man of God's Word, I want to be more of a man of prayer. Prayer is not an element of my relationship with God, it IS my relationship with God. I have to realize my relationship is dependent upon communication and time together.
If I wrote my autobiography, someone could read it inside and out, over and over again. They could highlight important parts about my story and things that mater a great deal to me. But that person does not know me. That person and I have no relationship. We have never sat and spoken together.
Much like this, I can study God's Word inside and out, over and over again. I can highlight important parts and dedicate years and whole college degrees to studying things very important to God. But I could do all of this and still not know God. I do not have a relationship. I have not sat and spoken with Him.
I am a man of God's Word and a man after God's heart, but I want to be MORE of a man of prayer than I have been before. I want to be more of a man of prayer at the end of 2015 than I am right now. I want to know Him more intimately. I want to be terribly close to His heart, and that will only come as we sit and speak together with more intentionality and frequency.
Once I come face to face with the real gospel of Jesus, it will well up within me either of great appreciation or joy or a rebellion and resentment. Many of us, particularly many Americans, resent a vital part of the gospel, namely the giftedness of it. Once many are face to face with the fact they have to accept a gift rather than give and give and give of their earning efforts, we are resentful of the gospel.
The gospel makes clear we are "justified as a GIFT by His GRACE through the redemption which is in Jesus Christ" (Rom. 3:24). Oswald Chambers writes, "We cannot earn or win anything from God; we must either receive it as a gift or do without it."
Here is a stark challenge to the way many of us try to understand the gospel. If you are not receiving it as a gift and trying to work for it with all your own efforts, you are missing it. If you are trying to work and earn God's love, you are choosing to do without it.
It is gift and it is to be received. It does not require your giving or your work. It is selfish pride just as much for me to refuse a gift, because even in that refusal I make way more of myself and less of God.
Today, God, I want your Word to affect both my mind and my heart. I need to know your tenderness, your intimacy, and your love in a way that I have not known it in some time. I will soak up your Word today. Please help my heart understand. Speak to my heart and may I come to know you more?
"and though you have not seen Him, YOU LOVE HIM, and though you do not see Him now, you BELIEVE in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls." -1 Peter 1:8-9
I greatly desire my heart to know the joy of salvation my mind knows it is. My soul is saved, and my mind knows the good news of the reality, but my heart does not often sit and rest with the very good news that this truly is for my soul eternal. God, help my heart rejoice today. I want to love you more.
Help my heart today. Give me a heart of flesh to replace the bits of built up stone.
Abba, May your spirit connect directly with mine! May my spirit truly worship yours! Today I am striving to bask in your love. Not to think about your love and try to feel your love, but to sit and bask in your love. I sit here right now drinking in your love. Your love that calls me your child and sees me as blameless. A love that relates to me in my spirit and not my flesh. I praise you and deeply thank you for loving me in my spirit instead of my flesh.
I swim in the love of my heavenly Father who has loved me despite my flesh and the mistakes and struggles it trips on. You love me because you see through my flesh, my feelings and my facade into my spirit which truly does remain blameless due to the outrageous price you paid for me so long ago.
Today, Abba, I rest in your love that I could NEVER receive from anyone else. I am skinny-dipping in the waters of your love that lavishes me in acceptance, mercy, grace and spiritual pleasure. I am truly drinking in a love I could never return. I long for you to be pleased, and I trip and stumble to make you happy and you still tell me not to compare and measure your love for me in terms of my love for you! I try not to compare my lazy, passive, conditional, emotional, and often theoretical love with your love.
I rest in your love today with the realization that no matter how amazing my wife or daughters' love for me is, it will fail in comparison to yours. That no matter how much my mother loves me, it will tremble at yours. That I CANNOT depend solely on Tonya, Bryleigh, Haddisen, mom, friends, books, or my writing to feel special, loved or valid, but to depend only on your love.
I am taking this moment to really trust in your love for me at my deepest core, to spend a moment claiming my identity as your beloved child, and TRUSTING that enough to believe...BECAUSE of that I am special, loved and valid. I am your child and I am drinking that love in right now. Thank you for loving me, Daddy. I love you and desire you to be happy, and I trust that I truly am special, loved and valid BECAUSE of your love for me.
I am not here to speak to you. You are not here that I might teach you something. I ask you to be restful right now. Be silent and quiet. I do not ask you to do this so you may DO anything else. I am not going to speak to you. I merely ask that you are silent and just LET ME LOVE YOU. Just be still and drink in my love. Don't sit and think too heavily ABOUT my love. Just sit quietly in my lap with your head on my chest and just let me love you. My love is not an ideal, a theology to study. My love, right now, is my action. I am LOVING you. Just be still in my arms and just let me love you. Be still and drink in the love that radiates around you RIGHT NOW only awaiting your silence...your stillness to fall on. If you are not still, you will only rustle it about. But if you are still, my love will pour upon you like snow in a globe. You CAN BE covered in my love, but you must be still and allow me to rain down on you more love than you will ever be able to contain. Don't think! Don't listen for me. For I have nothing to say to you right now. I only have something to give you. I have only to love you right now. Rest and BE LOVED my wonderful child.