Posts Tagged ‘relationship’

Perceptions of God: Does He Really Listen?

On Thursday night, my wife and I were watching the latest episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.” In it, one of the characters, Dr. Kepner, had previously been a virgin for, say, 27 years or so. Last week in an adrenaline rush she gave up her virginity to her best friend Dr. Avery. This week, in a fit of panic as they both thought they were failing their boards, they slept together again. The thing that makes this all interesting to me is that after the first time Kepner tells Avery that she had kept her virginity because “she loved Jesus.” But she was afraid Jesus didn’t love her anymore.

Let’s stop there for a moment, because it’s an interesting perspective. As a Christian, this greatly confused me, until I thought about it from a secular perspective. Is the perception of God out there that He expects you to live a perfect life, and once you fail He’s done with you? It seems like it might be. Who knows, perhaps even some believers in Christ feel this way.

But I feel like this perception comes from a failure to read your Bible. The Bible is full of passages that attest to not only God’s enduring love but also His faithfulness. Consider this verse in Hebrews 13: “Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.'” Or perhaps Isaiah 41:13: “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” It seems like that perception is actually a bit borne out of pride. Why would I say that? Well, if you are aware of these verses, the only explanation for feeling like God stops loving us is that we think we know better how God feels toward us than He does, like we have some special knowledge He doesn’t.

So I don’t think there is any reason, if you study God’s Word, to think that one act like losing your virginity is enough for God to say, “That’s it. No more love for that one.” But in this week’s “Grey’s” episode, Dr. Kepner goes even further after her second escapade. She admits to her test administrators that she thinks God doesn’t even hear her anymore. Now she’s committed the same sin twice, and this is enough to push God over the edge, apparently.

But this, to me, is again a mis-perception of God, and even a mis-perception of Christianity to some extent. And yet many people really feel this way and many more perceive it to actually be this way. If God has ever listened to us or spoken to us, then He is always doing those things. How do we know? Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Or Psalm 102:27: “But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” Or James 1:17: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

God doesn’t change! So if we think God isn’t listening, what has changed? It’s us! Think about it. We’re the ones that are sinning, so we’re the ones that are changing our tune with how we relate to God. God’s not changing His responsiveness; we’re changing our willingness to listen.

I think it’s important when you feel like this to realize that God is not a God who likes to confuse, trick, scheme or plot revenge. He’s a God that continues to pursue you even when you turn aside or even turn your back. But He’s always willing to listen, and not just to the “saved” or the “elect.” He’ll listen to anybody, and He’ll speak to those that are genuinely willing to listen. We just need to make sure we’ve got the radio dial tuned to the right station, or that we’re not trying to use our cell phone in the wilderness. The reception’s much better when you’re headed where you need to go.

Stop Yapping!

Extroverts have it hard. Don’t laugh, even though I’m being partially facetious. What looks like on the exterior a great deal (better networking, more friends, maybe even easier to find romance) becomes harder when relationships get on a personal level. Think about it; when a one-on-one relationship occurs, who thrives? It’s the introverts! They are the ones who are best at communicating on an individual level. If you really stop and look around, the most meaningful and deepest relationships always involve at least one introvert.

And the truth is that it carries over into our relationships with God. WIFE is an introvert; I’m an extrovert. And I can’t tell you how often I marvel at how amazing her relationship is with God. He is teaching her so much on almost a daily basis, that I wish that I could get just one-tenth of the inspiration and love from God that she gets in her quiet times. Why is it so hard for me?

When I step back and look at myself rationally, I realize that it’s because I don’t thrive on quiet. I get my energy by feeding off of other people. I like to be in the middle of things, to have a conversation always going. Usually I’m the one keeping that conversation moving, because I love to hear myself talk. And yet, it seems like my relationship with WIFE grows most when I’m willing to sit back and listen. It’s a novel concept, this listening, and one that introverts have mastered. What are some of the cliches? “Better to be silent and thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” “Silence is golden.” There is value in listening, and it’s a skill that I still am years away from figuring out completely.

But it’s something worth figuring out. Because when things are quiet, God can speak. When I’m praying, I often turn it into a “Here’s what I’m feeling, God” session. But how many relationships work when only one person is talking and only one person is listening? Not many, that’s to be sure. But when I’m in my car, in my bed, on my couch, and I just say, “I’m going to let You speak, God,” I am always blown away by the fact that He actually does! It makes me sad to think about how often I’m closing my ears or drowning out His voice by my constant jabbering about MY feelings, MY desires, MY problems. God has answers, and I’m realizing more and more that if I actually let a quiet time be a quiet time, I may actually hear what some of those answers are.

So extroverts unite! Take a lesson from those around you, and stop yapping so much. God may not appear to you in the tornado, in the earthquake, or in the tempest. He may pass by all those things in front of you, and then speak in the whisper of the wind. My prayer for myself and for any of you is that we’re prepared to listen and be blown away.

Lessons From the Torah

WIFE (stands for Woman I Find Exceptional, and how I will refer to my wife from now on) and I are reading through the entire Bible this year, and our daily plan has caused us to just now finish the book of Deuteronomy. Wow, there’s a lot of information in there, including some verses I wish I hadn’t found. But hey, they’re there for a reason. Here are a few of the things I learned from the first five books of the Bible:

1) The Israelites were some messed up people! Every time God would do an amazing miracle for them, they would complain about something else and usually reference it with “Did God lead us here to die in the desert?” Plus, some of the rules that God laid out for them I couldn’t imagine, but obviously He had to set them straight because these issues came up (if you’re wondering what issues I mean, see Deuteronomy 23; I really don’t want to list them here).

2) Moses was an amazing leader. The last few verses of Deuteronomy (I suspect written by Joshua) claim him as so, but just think about it. Can you imagine leading a group of middle-schoolers on a camping trip for 5 days? Now try doing it with an millions of people for 40 years.

3) The old covenant in no way compares to the new covenant. While both made by God, I for one am thankful that I don’t have to give an animal to the High Priest to be sacrificed every time I sin, because the world probably doesn’t have enough sheep or pigeons. Plus, I like being able to have a personal individual relationship with God, rather than having to go through the priests.

4) What happened to Simeon? In Moses’ blessings of the tribes of Israel at the end of Deuteronomy, he mentions every son of Jacob except Simeon. What did he or his people do to get left out of the blessing, and did they ever get back into God’s good graces?

5) Participate in the census. Apparently they’re important. God basically devoted a whole book of His Word to one.