Why Is This So Difficult? (#594)
If God wants a relationship with us so much, why does he make it so difficult? Or does he? It seems like it some times, to be sure, but would that be true to his nature? Wouldn't he rather do it in the simplest way possible so that he would help us come to know him as he really is? What begins as a discussion of healing and some of the physical challenges in the Jacobsen household these days invites Brad and Wayne to discuss why our hopes in God sometimes fall short, and how it is that he could be revealing himself and we miss it because of our religious sensibilities or misplaced expectations. Learning to live in his love and life is a bit of a journey, not because he makes it difficult but because it is quite a process to connect broken humanity with the transcendent God who made heaven and earth.
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Please consider going to an acupuncturist. The pain and the dizziness are quite possibly related. Please check this out before considering surgery.
Diana, thank you for your concern. Rest assured we are getting excellent advice from people who know Sara best and her condition and are not rushing into anything without contemplating all the options. Sara has been at this for a year and the decision to go to surgery is a last resort.
Yes, Brad, I am a flesh-and-blood knucklehead just like you. I’m just another one of God’s ‘special’? kids that he’s showing how to hear him. Thank you, guys, for getting back to ‘almost live’ podcasts. The interchange in the comments is very encouraging, so it’s awesome having your audio refer to those comments.
Regarding hearing God: You may think that God is not doing it ‘my’ way, but actually he is. He is communicating with you in a way that is tailor-made to fit you exactly. I recognized God’s embrace because of the way my grandmother would ‘hug me and not let go’ when I was a little kid. I had not felt an embrace like that for almost 45 years. Years ago he planted a seed in my heart that I could respond to years later! I was there, grandma was there, God was evidently there! Today God embraces me just like Grandma did!
God has always been with me all my life. Somehow I lost my awareness of his presence. Speaking to my heart. Most people don’t know they have a heart. I didn’t know I had a heart, either, until Father began to engage my heart in a way I could not mistake for anyone else. Everything about my life had revolved around my mind. My relationship with ‘god’ had been reduced to the futile self-talk banter in my head. Ongoing arguments with ‘god’. Then one day my heart heard: “I’m not who you THINK I am.” Everything changed for me from that point on. The real God began showing me what that statement means. I was trying to live from my mind. I was drowning in overactive thinking disease!
I believed that I was seeking God and ‘listening’ by diligently studying the bible. This is the first belief I had that crumbled. I realized that the real reason I was studying was to prove to myself and others that my belief system was right. Being right had become my idol, taking God’s place in my experience. An intricate, complex, deceptive mind fabrication that made me deaf to my heart. (there were 1001 other obstacles to hearing, this was the grand poobah for me)
Of course there’s still mind residue, but part of his transformation is learning to trust hearing his voice with your heart instead of your head. Gradually I am learning to LET GO of the destructive things I had learned to trust with my mind. The kingdom of God is within you, it always has been. Not in your head, but in your heart. God’s promise to us is this: NEW heart, RENEWED mind. New heart is surgery, renewed mind is a transformation process. But your mind must consent to the surgery. (letting go is the beginning of trusting with your heart)
First thing, though, is that you need to somehow know how much God really loves you. For some reason, we all have resistance to his love. (same as the 1001 obstacles to hearing) You need him to overwhelm you with his love for you. This is extreme personal. HIS love, precisely for YOUR heart. Your heart in his heart. His heart in your heart. That’s where the journey begins…
I have said this in previous comments, but apparently some of you missed it, so I will say it again here. For any of you who are wondering “why can’t /doesn’t this happen to me?” or “why don’t I hear God like these guys?” I am one of those people who has been seeking God and listening diligently my whole life. I have fasted and prayed and even exiled myself for a time. I had experienced a few events when I sensed God’s presence. But God took over 50 years to overtake me and give me the encounter that continues on to this day. I still don’t know why I’m hearing now, when I wasn’t before. I don’t know why it took so long. I really don’t understand God’s sense of timing. I’m still asking, “why me?” No answers.
So I’ll tell you what I do know. This is all God, none of me. I did not ask for this, or ‘deserve’ it, or expect it. There was no “if I _____, then God will”, no tradeoff, no quid pro quo. God initiated the encounter and controls it, all of it. Shortly before my encounter began, I had emerged from 6 years of disabling chronic intense body pain. I was also on the verge of desperation, about to make a radical life-altering decision. I do not know if either of these were a factor in any way. I wonder. I have no answers to the questions. I share my encounter because I want this reality for everyone on the planet.
There is nothing special about me or anything I might have done. I just know in my heart of hearts that God is real, that he loves me, and that I am hearing him. I do not understand any of it. To me, the reality of it is the greatest miracle of all.
Hi Craig, I read your comments in this thread and previous ones and I see similarities in your journey as I do mine. I am not at a place of revelationally knowing God’s heart for me as it sounds like you are, but for now – and the last 25 years – I am still wanting to know it. Thanks for sharing!
Craig, thanks again. Your words have once again resonated with some of what is happening within my own walk with Jesus. I was also raised with more of an intellectual understanding of God (Jesus and Holy Spirit) rather than the personal engagement He wants with us. I am walking this out with Him in the middle of much pain. Yes I feel the resistance to Him (I’ve shared with Him I wish that resistance was gone but since intimacy comes with honesty, let’s walk this through). Part of the pain is my own impatience while He patiently has in mind to win me to Him. Again after much “acting” in my growing up years in order to survive, I am finding this level of honesty with Him to be very disorienting. How does He win me without forcing me….and how do I be honest with Him while wanting that very resistance to grow smaller. Anyway….there is no formula and so may He provide what I need…or as Wayne once described..”when I was drowning and “struggling”, the answer was that Jesus scooped me up.” Your words are an encouragement along the way. Sue
Wow, Sue, you said so much in so little space. So much for me has been about freedom from my own mind. Problem is that my mind is pretty good (as minds go), but also good enough to create decades worth of entanglement. It takes courage and trust to let it go and let God untangle. It is shocking when you realize what IS tangled, and that you can’t untangle anything.
I was trusting the system that I had constructed, which now God is deconstructing with great sensitivity, yet my tendency is to reconstruct a new system. I’m sensing that the way he is helping me avoid reconstruction is by making clear to me everything he is NOT. (I’ve been keeping a list for a few years now) In my case, showing me who he is NOT has been much easier to for me to accept than if he had begun with who he IS.
You see, who God really IS is so vastly unfamiliar to me. His response to my honesty caught me totally off guard. Like you said, “I am finding this level of honesty with Him to be very disorienting.” No kidding! I still don’t know what to expect, but I want more. How can an experience be so painful and peaceful at the same time?
Here’s a very hard one for me: it’s like my will is not involved in the process. The less I try, the less I participate, the less I monitor progress, the more assured I am that he is doing his thing. I’ve discovered that my involvement and struggling actually creates resistance. Instead, I’m being drawn in, and surrendering to the drawing because I can’t help it!
My intellect is coming along, but very slowly. I don’t normally think this way. And I really, seriously do not understand what is going on. No human mind, no matter how creative genius it is, could possibly imagine this.
Good stuff, Sue. Thanks for sharing. Moving beyond an intellectual understanding of God is where I have been at for the last 1 1/2 years also. It took GREAT pain to get out of my executive (intellectual) brain as a medium to knowing God. Pain is a great catalyst to something beyond where I have lived and felt painfully familiar. So sorry you are experiencing much pain…it is horribly wonderful! I have little place for pretense and pretending with God either; only honesty (as far I am aware anyway…). I do not know where I will go next with this journey of life and spirituality, but it certainly is not as boring as it was when I thought I had it all figured out as recently as 2 years ago.
Alright guys, I’m hearing what you are saying, and have heard it all the other times you’ve said it too 😉 I’ve been at this for too many years to admit, and I still don’t truly, truly get it. I have seasons where I play the game better than others, but mostly that is exactly what it feels like to me. I hear you saying I’m just not paying attention. I’m not giving God credit for all the ways he’s speaking to me/making himself known.
Okay. I hear you. Here’s my question… How do I do this without feeling like I’m playing pretend. Whenever I go down this “God spoke to me via a label on my apple or a song on the radio” road, it feels like a religious version of erotomania to me. It feels like I’m forcing myself to see life in a way that makes me feel better. How do people get to the point that they believe all that stuff is God (like really, really God speaking to them, showing them things, being with them in their time of need) and not their own little mind game???
Mitzi, I thought your question was well put – I can definitely relate.
It’s less and less about feeling, and more and more about faith. Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. So if you hope for God speaking to you via a label on your apple, or a song on the radio, He just might. But it will be in His timing, not ours. Our job is to keep hope alive, God is the assurance of that hope.
I liken God’s presence in my life like the frequency on a radio. I realize this now may be a dated analogy because of the internet and satellite radio and the like, but there are times I am close enough to God where I can hear Him loud and clear. Other times He barely comes in at all. I don’t think one ever gets to the point where everything is God…not in this life and this world anyway. I believe Satan has his schemes as well. But again, our faith, developed and strengthened, overcomes the world.
mitzi, this is a great question…one which i struggle with myself because i have experienced “hearing” from God in the past that i now question, and i have studied just enough brain science to know our brains will give us what we want if our expectations are high enough. I have to admit that i am a skeptic by nature (i’m sure i over-analyze everything), but when i look back on the times i wanted to hear from god i believe my desire to hear from him created his voice or primed me to interpret circumstances in such a way as to “see” god in the mix. now that i look back on these experiences, i believe i fabricated his voice in order to create the reality of a supernatural relationship between myself and god that wasn’t there. then i would tell my friends about my revelation in hopes that if they believed it to be real then maybe i too could convince myself that i had heard from god…sad (i must stop here and admit that this is my experience or at least my interpretation of my experience…i try not to hold my thoughts as absolute truth because i will be the first to admit that my interpretation could be wrong, but it’s where I’m at now).
when i couldn’t hold up this charade anymore, i was willing to question everything because nothing about me felt real. long story short, i deconstructed everything. my reconstruction started with a sense of god’s love…nothing more. the kind of sense i feel deep within me when i see a sunset. i can’t explain it (although i try), but there is something in beauty that gives me a sense of god’s presence. seeing love between two persons does the same thing to me. to me it’s not a thought process, it’s a feeling…there are no words just feelings.
my experience has led me to trust my heart and not my head when it comes to “hearing” from god…i no longer look for telepathic messages, and i no longer even trust my interpretations of what it is I’m experiencing. i don’t look to god for answers anymore because knowing his presence through my intuitive experiences is enough. i don’t need to know what to do or what is he up to anymore, the heart isn’t concerned in such matters. this is hard to explain, but I’m a skeptic that has come to a place of trusting my heart more than my head which has allowed me to “hear” from god in ways that now seem to come from outside of me instead of being created from within…
Your experience is similar to mine, Kent. It isn’t that I’ve had no spiritual life whatsoever, it just seems that I’ve not had much that I couldn’t have created on my own. If God really did create us to be in relationship, it seems like he would have a better handle on how to communicate with us. I never lie awake at night and wonder if my husband, son, best friend, or cashier at the store really spoke to me. I may have issues understanding them or hearing them (because I have auditory nerve damage), but ya know what? I ask them to repeat, speak up, face me when they are talking and I get the message. If one of them says something I need to hear and realizes I missed it, ya know what? They repeat it! They keep after me until I get it. They keep repeating or speaking louder UNTIL I FREAKING GET IT! And this is mostly stupid stuff that I could live without. How much more the matters of eternity, life-and-death, and relationship with my creator??
First and foremost – I love your open honesty. Rather than attempt, poorly, to unravel your infinite mystery – may I speak to your heart with this: I the Lord hear and see you, you are not invisible to me; I adore you and love you more than any can compare. You are mine and unique, I speak to the child in you – to the fathoms of your heart – building tender compassion and empathy. Love those around you, look not at the things you think you do not have, see them – those around you…and love.
There is nothing to get, no It, you have him; eternity is forever settled, done; you have already passed from death to life, you’ re in him, he’s in you; you are already relating, it’s comparing that gets in the way. Live your life loved, he will unwrap the you his love has created, rest and be you. God is working out a lot of good things in you, you don’t and won’t see all of these all of the time. He’s not taking stock of your perceived failures, he’s reshaping/cleansing a conscience which has been trained under the rule of good and evil, you’re fine..he’s got you.
Thanks, Mitch. I appreciate your reply.
hey mitzi, I’m sorry for your frustration, and i know it’s probably not helpful to hear that some think you’re in a good place struggling with god, but from my experience i’d have to agree with them. i’m not gifted in writing, so i hope my meaning comes across… i believe there is a god, and i believe he is perfect love. i just don’t believe in the western christianity version of god anymore. i would like to think that i have everything figured out, but i don’t. the only thing i can do is give my experience (or more rightly said, my interpretation of my experience) because i have come to the conclusion that god is known through experience; not through intellectual endeavors. why do i believe there is a god, and that he is perfect love? it’s not because someone told me, or that i read a book. it’s because i have experienced something that has allowed me to feel as if my life counts for something, and thus, that others’ lives are just as important as mine somehow…i call this love. maybe i have bought into some personal delusion or maybe i have created these feelings as a hopeful fantasy for dealing with life’s disappointments…i’m not smart enough to figure that out. what i can say is that my thought processes have been transformed into believing that god loves me, and this has allowed me to love and accept others in ways that i never could before. when i said in the earlier comment that i don’t look to god for answers anymore, i wasn’t saying that i don’t believe that he exists…i was trying to say that in my experience i don’t believe he speaks to the mind (this is where i differ with most on this blog). i believe he speaks to my heart through what i would describe as love impulses, and then my mind rightly or wrongly interprets what it is i think that god is communicating with me. there are no thoughts transferred from the mind of god to my mind in my experience, but he is constantly “pinging” my heart even when my mind isn’t paying attention to what my heart is feeling/experiencing. am i right? am i wrong? can i draw universal conclusions from my experience as to how god speaks to us? i don’t know…all i can do is throw my thoughts out there and hope that they somehow help myself and others to be able to relax into a life in which love is the foundation for self acceptance and for accepting others. i no longer try to manipulate god to control my circumstances…his presence is enough. i don’t need “him” to see me as special compared to the rest…his presence is enough. i don’t care if i have all my ducks in a row…his presence is enough. i don’t hear voices; i don’t see dead people (or at least i haven’t yet), but it doesn’t matter to me…his presence is enough.
i would encourage all those who don’t feel god is speaking to them to look with your heart(look for him in the love you experience); not with your mind. is it possible we are experiencing something that we aren’t “seeing” because we are looking for something else?
First, Craig…your words are an encouragement. Yes this is about less of human effort and more of what He is doing. I have begun asking Him to take the initiative so maybe out of that, I will begin to find more rest. I accept that He has to do the untangling and rewiring. Mitzi…appreciated your questions and thoughts. I think that what I expressed was the same thoughts but with different words. I grew up with acting because within the dysfunctional religous obligations there was no room for reality. Now that I see Jesus has been pursuing me for a long time, the honesty is confusing. I mean in the sense that He desires truth….if I am enraged lets walk that through. But being enraged (over unhealthy abuse) means I am pushing Him away…sigh…and I’m back to pretending. I can see He wants to untwist that, I cannot control Him or how He does the healing. I am learning that I go back and back to Him….and He very tenderly will remind me of His love being the central focus. Right now very painful process…maybe I will feel more “rest” further along.
Hey, Sue…hopefully these comments get to you before you abandon this thread, both because they are important, but also because I know you are tracking with me. You might well be on the edge of your own breakthrough with God. “asking Him to take the initiative” is a great place for you to be. Ask Him to show you that He is already present.
Wow, just writing that last sentence gave me a whole new insight. This is NOT about effort, or doing, or initiative, or pursuing, or even seeking or hearing. ‘Be still and know that I AM God’ and that I am PRESENT. I am here, now, WITH you, present. ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’ It is simply the awareness of God’s presence, right here, right now, that changes everything.
Some of us need an extreme encounter to become aware. For me it was His overwhelming presence in a pickup truck at work. Paul was knocked off his horse and blinded. “Who are you, Lord?” When I am pursuing something, I put blinders on and probably won’t see what is right in front of my eyes. Maybe we need to give up the pursuit. What I am trying to say is that awareness that He IS present comes first, and everything else comes later.
For those of us from a church background, we think it’s backwards to this. Everything we do in a service is an ‘invitation’ to God to come and visit with us for an hour. Or we go to church to ‘come into his presence.’ (as if we are away, or he is away) Then somehow we think we are separated from Him for a plethora of reasons. The term ‘out of fellowship’ makes my skin crawl now. I may be out of fellowship with another person, but thankfully I’m convinced that nothing ‘will be able to separate us from the Love of God.’ NOTHING makes us separate! NOTHING can take me out of fellowship with God!
We reveal our ‘separation anxiety’ in the things we say. To quote Sue: “But being enraged means I am pushing Him away.” He is not repelled by your rage, but He is attracted to it. He will heal it if you will let Him get close enough to crawl into it. Quote: “He desires truth” Does He desire something of you that you don’t have? (feels like separation?) Our thinking that we are separated from Him becomes a key obstacle.
Maybe we need to give up what we expect of Him. This relationship between God and a person is impossible to compare to anything. It does not conform to human rules for relating. It is the Divine in relation to a human. It would be more accurate to say that it redefines the term “relationship.” If you have any expectations of it, you will be mistaken. He Himself is beyond compare, and a relationship with Him is beyond compare as well. He is so far beyond expectation or imagination!
His first initiative is to establish YOUR awareness of HIS presence. WITH you, all the time. Quote: “will remind me of His love being the central focus” Yes, yes yes. God IS here. God IS love. His love makes you RECEPTIVE. (impossible to describe) Everything else will come later. Everything that comes later are gifts that you receive from Him. The communication, the trust, the hearing, the rewiring, the honesty, the untangling, the healing, the process (unique to you), the reality, the “rest”, the insights — ALL GIFTS!! that you receive.
So I would encourage you to “Ask Him to show you that He is already present.” He wants you to be aware of His presence much more than you do. Then relax, and watch, and listen.
When I began looking for God I had zero religious training and now I wonder if that hasn’t been one of my greatest blessings.
Regardless, though, the path for each of us is the same. Simply put we each, by ourselves and on our own must learn to comprehend God and we can only do that by interacting with him.
After years of study and research I still cannot find anything that clearly explains HOW do do that. What nearly all Christian teachings focus on is what seeking God is all about and why we need to. I believe the reason for this is that “how” is both the hardest part (reference the question in the podcast) and is unprovable by material minded man’s standards.
Back to the beginning. When I began my search I made an assumption. I assumed God was real. I assumed that if he made me he surely would know how to communicate with me. I also assumed two things more. I assumed that in every situation in my life, ever single one, no matter how insignificant it might seem to me, it was important to him. And secondly, I assumed since he was already doing all he intended to do to communicate with me, the rest must be my own responsibility. Now here is the unimaginable beauty of that; it made my discovery of God is possible if I will it. If I am willing to realize that it is only and always me that is in the way of clarity all I need to do is get out of the way. And isn’t that really the hardest part, getting my “me” out of the way? Following God’s path for me means daily confrontation with my failures and recomitment to following my greatest concepts of him. So my answer to “how” is to daily allow him to live in my consciousness and focus my mind on seeing my best as in need of change because it is what is keeping me from seeing him better tomorrow.
Please feel free to comment on your sense of my success, but that is how I live my life and it works. I am my own critic because I am the only one standing between God and my realization of him.
Jesus said we have not because we ask not. I think he meant for us to simply try a lot harder than we have been willing to do. We don’t have to settle for religion when we were designed for relationships.
Hi Jim….I think getting human effort (like you said) out of the way, is the hardest part of this process. Catechism (my upbringing), learning more intellectual knowledge is SO unsatisfying. As He makes himself known, there is the growing awareness that my “brain” can come along. Also this must be why He interacts with each of us in such unique ways…no 2 relationships/marriages are exactly the same. The hunger for intimacy is a healthy one…for male and female to know Jesus with this form of engagement speaks to ever growing deeper closeness which is the heart engagement. For those of us steeped in religous obligation and performance as well as intellectually knowing ABOUT Him…seems Jesus has a particular focus on engaging us at a heart level where we come to know Him (rather than information about Him). Sue
I would agree that human effort is not the key–praying, fasting, soaking, 24/7 seeking, etc. That is fruitless, though God sometimes will find us there anyway. But it just isn’t all up to God either, otherwise he’d be incredibly capricious. Why this one and not that one? God’s intent for us all is very clear. He wants us to have access to him and for him to commune with us. Learning to live in that reality and giving him time to rewire our hearts from the twist of our rebellion and the twist of religious performance does take some time it seems for many of us. Though human effort cannot produce it, it doesn’t happen without our involvement. Brad and I will probably talk about this more, especially wrestling with Mitzi’s question above, but there are things we do that leans into God’s reality, and there are things we can do that gum up our hearts so that we don’t hear or see him. Learning to focus his direction, or tune to his frequency is something that most of us have not been taught or encouraged in. It does take some humility, some willingness to turn toward him and away from our ambitions, and the space away from what distracts us to be aware of how his revelation wants to unfold in us. And it is somewhat seasonal. His presence may be very strong and tangible in one season, and more deep and transformative in others. He is in control of this, so it’s best not to seek a certain kind of experience, or try to hold on to one or reproduce it. God knows what each of us needs, where our hearts are at, and how to draw us into the space we desire most.
Surrendering or abandoning what we think is best for us, in hindsight, I find profoundly true to my experience in trying to get along with God. It’s so much easier now to look back and see, as you say, how much of what we thought would be good for us, or our relationship with him e.g. things related to this life (health wealth happiness) or vindication, confirmation we are known by him and that we know and are fulfilling his purposes in this life et cetera. I particularly related to what was being fed about how we are often painfully aware of what is going wrong re-the physical life (i.e. the body) and are quick to bring that before him, but all too often, we are totally oblivious to the mess our soul and spirit (the other two thirds) are in and are not nearly as quick to bring that before him (particularly liked the “pleasure of sin for a season” thought).
Also the whole ‘enduring chastening as a son’ Hebrews 12 thing raised some issues for me as I have never really worked through exactly what that chastening is. And as I was chatting through this whole thing this morning with my wife, she wondered if it could be the hardships we so often endure in life – which probably puts a better light on the things we often find ourselves suffering – such as when I found myself losing my ability to work due to a long-term chronic illness and then about 10 years ago, the knowledge of that was used by my then employer who decided it was a great way to (illegally) get rid of a union delegate – that led to legal action, followed by a nervous breakdown which caused me to decide to walk away from the whole thing. Added to the loss of both employment and with the nervous breakdown, my employability, came tremendous stress on the marriage, our finances – none of which was helped by my self-medicating with alcohol – all of which led to me withdrawing from brethren and having a lot of brethren withdrawing from me. Also, there were some valued friendships of folk I deeply respected that either fell away or were neglected due to my inability to cope/function well in these circumstances.
That all started around 10 years ago and it has only been the last year and a half that nearly all of that has turned around – including reaching out to some of those valued friendships to start gently working to rebuild the mutual trust and love needed for those friendships to re-establish and grow…..
Thank you Ken for sharing your story so beautifully put too. I wish you well for sure in making you turn around. Unfortunately this discussion adds to my growing concern that God is not really there. How can he make himself so obscure knowing that so many humans just want to be close to him? Referring to what Kent said, I used to be so convinced I was close to God. But now, I too think I just wanted it so badly, my mind created this reaction to him, or my imagining of him, that I thought was it was him. referring to Craig’s post above, what sort of person would play hide and seek with someone for 50 years? What kind of good parent would act like that? One answer is that maybe he is not so powerful as we think. There is some obstacle that stops him from being less vague. Or maybe he really doesn’t understand how hard it is to be a human. The lack of power, the vulnerability to so many things. He must think we are pretty tough and can just wait and wait. But a lot of people on this planet have just give up and move on to other things. I wish I didn’t see their point but I’m starting to.
Thanks Lisa for your well wishes. I know there is a vast difference between having your trust (faith) that God is good, and in particular, that his goodness/favour is on you (e.g. Job) – and being disciplined for stubbornly holding to anything/something harmful to your relationship with God, others or yourself. And I don’t think we have ever really been tested until we have started asking all the same questions you are. I know I have a number of times during the last 10 years, even, at times in my heart at least, raising and shaking my fist. And I have no doubt even if at some stage I had done a dummy spit and vehemently accused him of unrighteousness (being unjust unfair et cetera) in the way he does things in this life and in my case, unfair or unjust in his dealings with me, I have no doubt it would have only warmed his heart towards me some more. Your words only tell me how much you love him and how much you want to be embraced by him and reassured of his love in your life. Probably the biggest epiphany for me was when I was able to look past all the negative rubbish and see him for who he really is – it was then that I got it and started getting my backup and really started sticking it back so to speak to that mongrel ‘alien invader’ (and his mates) from the spirit realm. Mind you, I always had one arm wrapped tightly around our heavenly dad’s leg whenever I did, as these guys are a bit bigger than us. I think your time is coming…..
Yes, Lisa! This is exactly where I find myself. I hear a lot of “have faith that he loves you/us” and I used to think the key was just surrendering to that idea. Problem is, when I surrendered to it…well, nothing. Now I wonder what makes us so sure that he does love us, or is so powerful, or so smart. How do we know these things? What if, as Wayne dismisses above, he IS capricious? What if the people who are so convinced of his love have every reason to be and those of us who aren’t are honestly not receiving what the “chosen ones” think we ALL receive? What if he really IS the mean kid sitting on the anthill with a magnifying glass who sometimes decides to engage “lovingly” with some people and they are running around telling the rest of us that this is the way he is? Supposedly, when Thomas needed help with his faith, Jesus provided that help. I’ve been begging for anything…even a good dose of the old Job smackdown “Who are YOU to question me???” from him for decades with nothing to show for it. I spent a lot of time coming from the position that God is good all the time and he loves us like no one else can. It’s only recently that I’ve begun to wonder if maybe, just maybe, the issue isn’t me (as I’ve assumed and been told for my entire life) and instead is that this world system isn’t at all like I’ve been led to believe. This is a scary thought to contemplate.
Oh Mitzi, I get where you are coming from…at least I think so. I no longer am able to just believe that God is good, and He is good to everyone. Maybe He really is good, and I will come to understand that through out the rest of my journey; however, for now I can not tow the company line of the christian faith – or perhaps churchianty – “god is good all the time, and all the time god is good.”
As Brad talked about, there certainly can be and likely is static in my life interfering with picking up God’s heart for me. So many scriptures seem to speak to the interference, “seeing but they don’t see” “hearing but they don’t hear” “blind” “lost” “prone to wander” “all we like sheep have gone astray…” etc… Having false expectations of how to pick up God’s frequency, or having pride are some of the static, but not all. I think some people have been so damaged and traumatized by life, people, circumstances…, that it has messed up and rewired their brain’s ability to receive love and integrate into their being, sadly rendering them stuck in fear, shame, mistrust, insecure attachment, etc… Even if they were able to see the pride and false expectations, I am not sure that would go far enough to release them from surrendering and receiving love from God and others. I could be wrong in what I am surmising, I guess that will be revealed to me as time goes on…
Mitzi, thank you for your courage to be real and honest with where you are at! I hope your journey eventually leads you to more peace and comfort!
I like what you have to say Jim. I don’t think you are that far off at all. I can say for myself many experiences growing up have damaged and traumatized me, not so much as I am messed up to the point of being stuck, but my ability to fully give and receive love to others has been greatly affected. I can much more easily make the mental ascent to belief in God than the heart ascent. In my dark moments, God is much the distant, abusive, inconsistent being I experienced from my earthly parents. I have a hard time separating the two. Often I simply shield myself just to feel good. Almost as if I owe myself some type of positive experience, call it the presence of God, what have you, that allows me to have those moments, more in a solitary state than among people. In a peculiar way it does sustain me, but I sure it is not everything that God would have for me in this life. But at least as long as there is life, there is hope that things will change and get better.
Ron, I so relate to what you said, “…my ability to fully give and receive love to others has been greatly affected. I can much more easily make the mental ascent to belief in God than the heart ascent.” Thanks for sharing.
I was walled off in my own controlling, insulated, know it all attitude, all the while thinking I was godly. I am pretty sure this stuff came out of some instinctive, self-protective reaction to shame, and fear and insecurities. I thought I was loving – and I suppose I did the best I could with what I had – but much of my ways were motivated by shame and fear…and I didn’t really know it. I thought I was being wise and discerning and prudent and blah, blah, blah… Maybe I was at times, but I didn’t fully know where wisdom ended and fear began.
I am realizing that I have not received love well, nor given love well. I have constantly questioned if someone’s love for me is sincere and genuine; and I have done this in a reactive and impulsive way, not some conscious thought just to be difficult…although I have certainly been difficult in my insecure blindness.
Thanks, Jim. I hear what you are saying. I don’t feel proud. I feel desperate and exhausted and alone and wouldn’t argue that I am traumatized by life. That trauma surely could screw with my ability to receive love and to have me stuck in a lot of messy things…I just keep hoping and begging that he has a way past all those things so I don’t have to spend my whole life feeling so miserable. I don’t know how to surrender any more than I have and have repeatedly begged him to help me get past whatever is keeping me from knowing his presence.
…desperate and exhausted and alone… I am so sorry, Mitzi! I have felt those three many times as well. My heart goes out to you!!!
I have had someone say to me, “I think you like being miserable.” I could see how they could say that, but I do not think they understand what is playing out in my brain. As I have come to understand how trauma and life effects the brain, the more I realize how our brains get transformed by our circumstances more than i/we realized just 20-30 years ago. I have heard that trauma is not what happens to you, but rather how you experience what happens to you. I think that is a fitting definition. Like you, I don’t know how to surrender any more than I am. I can’t give or confess or repent any more than I realize in the moment. So, in the meantime I just wait for something to play out – that is obviously out of my control – to bring me into greater places of joy and rest and peace and contentment and etc…
Again, thank you so much for your comments about where you are in life!
Thank you so much for this exchange, Jim. I think we are walking a similar path. I appreciate your honesty more than you know.
Jim, its ironic that the same protective mechanisms we use as children to survive an abusive environment are the very mechanisms that most hinder us in having effective relationships as adults. For me, the primary mechanisms I learned were ‘Don’t trust,’ and ‘Disappear like you don’t matter’. Well, the essence of love is trust , and revealing yourself to another to expose your vulnerability. Its no wonder I have issues in forming and maintaining deep relationships and love interests. It is something I have to be gentle with myself about, as I didn’t become this way overnight. And it is definitely God who drives my recovery, requiring myself to simply relax into His love until I am able to love others the way He loves me.
Lisa, I have wrestled with some of the same questions and concerns regarding “what sort of person would play hide and seek with someone for 50 years? What kind of good parent would act like that?” Matthew 7:11, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” I am frustrated with asking again and again and again…as if there is some magical number I have to reach before I recognize some response. I sometimes wonder if my greatest hope, is to give up hope. At least then I will no longer feel ignored. Thanks for sharing, Lisa.
Dear Lisa, Ken, mitzi, Jim, Ron: I wrote the comments above so that you would know that I can completely relate to both sides of the question. I understand 50 years of frustration with God, and the skepticism that results. But I also know the breakthrough, so I share it all to give you hope.
So to answer Lisa’s question to me: “What sort of person would play hide and seek with someone for 50 years?” Me. I’m the one playing hide and seek with God. “What sort of person?” A broken person. Me. “What kind of good parent would act like that?” I never said the parent was acting out. I inferred that God was NOT responding, or refusing to play my game. It turned out that every single obstacle between me and God was created by me.
I was seeking what I WANTED him to be, what I thought he SHOULD be, rather than a person I was unfamiliar with. In my mind I had an imaginary, fabricated god, and I wanted the real God to be THAT. I refused to accept anything else. But the real God will never be what I (or you) have imagined, or will imagine. God will never be what I want, and he won’t become what I want, either. (thankfully)
Most of us are not prepared to have our precious idea of God broken to pieces. I had no idea that anything in me needed to be deconstructed. But every day I am thankful that God found a way to dismantle MY idea of him. The person he really is, is SOOO much better, even though I’m getting familiar with such a minuscule piece of him.
I said, “God took over 50 years to overtake me.” I did NOT say it took me 50 years to find HIM. Despite all my fasting, praying, seeking, I was actually 50 years of bulletproof resistant. I was protecting my idea of God. As if I was telling God, “Don’t you dare mess with any part of this!” Thankfully, he found a crack in my armour, in spite of me.
Somehow this love presence overtook and overwhelmed my heart. Then he gently, compassionately melted my defenses and dismantled my idea of God. And he began to show me what he is not, and also what he’s really like. The god in my mind did not have the characteristics I so desperately needed to know. (gentleness, compassion, for starters)
I encourage you to reread (slowly) my comments at the top of this page. I said nothing different than what I’m saying here. Consider if you are protecting your precious idea of God. Ask yourself if you are resisting like I did for so long. I know how hard it is to see this from where you are. (50 years)
Blessings to all,
Well said Craig….
I understand your breakthrough Craig, and it is wonderful that you have shared it with us in such a deep way. For me, it is simply my self-will that gets in the way of the true God you describe. I think I have an accurate portrayal of the God you describe, but instead of simply taking His direction, I try to come up with my own ways of getting to Him. For example, if I simply try to love like God, God will love me in kind. How impossible! Sometimes a person says, ‘I love you with the love of the Lord.’ Well, what does that look like? Patience, kindness, selflessness, etc. How can I be those things if I have never learned those things? Wayne nailed it on the head when he said most of us are not taught or encouraged to lean into God’s love. Its more like ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’, and even more well-sounding things from religious circles such as ‘If its got to be, its up to me!’ I’ve waited on God for many a year, and endured the loss of friendships, career, social standing, reputation, things vital in the temporal world but mean nothing in the spiritual world. And somehow, in my best moments, I am exactly where God wants me to be.
Something I wrote I once heard that Wayne picked up on, I will repeat here, because it seems to fit what we are talking about…
A wise man was once asked, “Do you wrestle with God?”
The wise man replied, “Yes.”
Then he was asked, “Do you hope to win?”
“No”, said the wise man, “I hope to lose!”
A.W. Tozer once wrote that there is no error of theology that does not stem from a wrong concept of God. His observation is equal, as well, to the task we each face in experiencing God personally. There is no failing in my communication with God that does not stem from my having a wrong concept of God. If I say to myself, “I am listening God”, I must first admit that the one I am listening for is a God of my own creation. It is my natural way, it is the way the human mind was designed by the God of heaven. So what am I to do, since I am not as keenly aware of his communication as I desire? First I must realize that I am trying to communicate with a person, not a thing; a person who knows the ins and outs of personhood infinitely. I must realize I don’t know even myself much less all persons like he does. I must face my own fears. What if he actually does communicate and I acknowledge, what then? What if this turns out to be very different than I think it is supposed to be, what then? What if I find him and he shows me, me, for real? I mean me in ways I have never shared with anyone? Am I willing to find out really what he sees, really what he is, really what love means to him, really what I am all about, really what is real and by that what is not about what I have been believing? The truth is God will be as real with us as we are with him and no more. No less either. Facing that fact, the concept that my own fear of being real is the only real thing that limits my communication is frightening, for sure, but it is also liberating.
To solve this problem in my own thinking, I have pictured my entire thought pattern as similar to the operation of a large grid. This grid is, in my thinking area, 3 dimensional, it has height, width and length. If I am operating on this grid in an area where I am finding some personal issue, I can call upon God and he will help me correct that right? No, wrong. I must leave my grid, remember it is my grid, and go in my heart to the place he is. He is not my grid, nor is he in my grid, except as I put him there by my belief system. As Craig has said God is not what we believe, so it is important for me to remember that believing I know what or who he is isn’t the same as going to my deepest heart and giving up my very life to him, which, by the way, is all he asks of me. So I know after doing this process for many years that if I am not “hearing” him, I must be somewhere in my mind, somewhere he is not, and then I remember he is not in my mind. At that time I must leave my own thinking process and go in my deepest self to re-commit my life to him. Then when I return to my mind, I have a whole new outlook on what ever subject of me I was working. To me that is how it works. As Jesus said it is simple process.
There is some real honesty happening here that I am familiar with and really appreciate. However, wherever we attempt to get a handle on what is happening in this life without factoring in both the access and abilities the enemy has to convince you, even in the smallest way that God is not righteous (just fair good) in his dealings with mankind, or worse convince you that God’s heart towards you is not righteous, you will find yourself starting down a very slippery slope Indeed.
Even a little reductio ad absurdum here soon spells out where you will end up: blaming God for not fulfilling some idealistic utopian fantasy you have created in your own mind against the reality of what we actually live on planet Earth and then trying to compel everyone to accept and subject themselves to your idealistic utopian fantasy of how you think it really should be – then finding you’re on a well beaten path, yourself joining a long line of others throughout history?
However, is not what we live on planet Earth i.e. the bad stuff, all due primarily to our exercising of our own choice to not love God, self or others and thereby doing harm to our relationship with God, yourself or others? And isn’t it clear in your own life that once we start doing harm in these relationships, we seem to become trapped to always continue doing harm – in some ways almost like an alcoholic or drug addict. Maybe this is what Jesus meant by ‘he that sins becomes a servant of sin’?
So let’s continue with the reductio ad absurdum and choose to dump God out of the equation altogether as it appears some are suggesting, what then? How well have those without God been doing loving self and others in this life? My study of history tells me not well at all. So tell me you who think dumping on God here is the answer i.e. it’s all his fault; what is your answer to seeing humanity getting ‘love’ right? I’ve been down your road and I’m now sticking firmly to a person who I am now seeing and relating to as the ‘someone’ who exceeds my wildest ideals/dreams and now understand that it is a relationship with him (Jesus) that has become the answer to me, as I have now found out that the answer many/most are looking for cannot be found in a philosophy, a cause, some idealism, a belief system, some religion and the God of its making et cetera – it can only be found in a real encounter with the God of the ages and only on his terms, not yours e.g. your response to him needs to be with the humility of one who is broken (cannot love and cannot fix it) yielding to him and his love – then watch the ‘magic’ happen….
The only “enemy” here is our spiritual youthfulness. We are babies. And we make all the messes babies make, sometimes even blaming our parents for our messes. Oh well, we will get over it. My Father’s love is sufficient to that little task. Human beings are habitual by nature and 2000 years is only a wink of an eye in the long road to reality. But we mustn’t allow ourselves to wallow in our own misery either. We must persevere in seeking righteousness. And righteousness isn’t being a measure of being right it is simply being real. We have to overcome years of theological indoctrination that has taught us that what has happened before has more value that what is happening now. We must realize the truth of the actual presence of God in each of our lives and learn to drop the pretense that we know him because we know a book or a historical compilation of data regarding ancient event. Our reality must be current and real. To do that our authority must be placed on the reality of personal spiritual experience. The ancients had nothing on us. Everything that was available to them is available to us. It is an amazing realization. But shedding the entrails of confusing and oppressive doctrines is no easy task. So we must not be so harsh on those who struggle. Mitzi and Jim are here and they are trying. Lets show them how and in that help them discover the greatest experience of all life, the reality of knowing a personal relationship with the creator of the all things.
Hey there Jim George, we meet again 🙂
I relate to what you were saying about having zero religious training and you wondering if that hasn’t been one of your greatest blessings – as I also grew up without religious training and wasn’t confronted with the realities revealed in Scripture until, when I was 16, I was given a copy of Hal Lindsay’s “The Late Great Planet Earth” while working as an electrical apprentice doing house wiring on a remote aboriginal community in northern Australia. Within a year and half of that I found myself a zealous member of a communal Bible-based cult, having been persuaded by others interpretation of Scripture that this was what God wanted of us i.e. forsake all, preach the gospel full-time et cetera.
Back in those days (mid-1970s) there is very little known about the cult phenomenon and very little material available to help sort this all out once my wife and I realised something was seriously wrong and we chose to get out. I only had Scripture to help me sorted all that out and even then I had a deeply twisted understanding of what that Scripture was telling me about God and his salvation in and through Jesus. However, I stuck with it and slowly Jesus helped me to understand that everyone who talks about him and his salvation will be giving an answer to: who is God as a person, what is our situation in this life, what is the cause of our situation, what were we meant to be like, what is his rescue plan, and what will be the restoration of all things. And over many years he began ‘explaining’ to me that there are two basic approaches to answering these six questions. The most common approach to answering these questions, which is the approach you will find in the Christian religion, is that God’s redemptive purpose i.e. his purpose for the cross/Christ crucified, is all about the loss of and the restoration of right beliefs and practices and therefore it is all about our obedience to someone’s idea of right beliefs and practices which restores the kingdom of God i.e. it is all about our receiving and being obedient to the correct doctrinal truth, to the correct standards of righteousness and holiness and to the correct understanding of what service God requires of us in this life.
The other approach to God’s redemptive purpose which provides us with a completely different answer to all of these same six questions is that the cross is all about the loss of and the restoration of mutual trust love and a subsequent friendship between us and God (in a father and child relationship with him) – and all about the restoration of mutual love trust and a subsequent friendship between those who love him (as brothers and sisters). You will find that Wayne is deeply committed to the second approach as I am and while he doesn’t give a Scripture address for everything he says in his material/books, those who know Scripture know that everything he is saying can be bought back to verse chapter and in some cases entire books, demonstrating, just as many of the writers in Scripture did that they do understood God and his salvation in and through Jesus and are able to give an answer in their own words to these six questions.
For almost a century the second approach to God and his salvation was clearly elucidated and Wayne gives a great explanation in his latest chapter of his book “Phenomenon of the Dones” – ‘do you need a covering?’ of what contributed to our embracing the former approach. I would heartily encourage you to read this chapter.
My point is Jim, that many of the issues that have been mined from Scripture over the centuries (and viciously contended over due to the former approach) e.g. truth, righteousness and holiness, serving God – are all valid when it comes to our own personal understanding of those six questions, as they are all deeply connected to the understanding Jesus wants to give you/me about himself and the cross. What you will end up understanding all depends on which of these two approaches you take – so I would encourage you not to throw the baby out with the bathwater so to speak here.
I have been reading through all the comments, and can really relate to the struggle expressed by so many. My heart goes out to those who are really wanting something more and cannot seem to find it. Why is it that some find it easier to “converse” with God, to find Him, and other not. I have thought often that there must be something wrong with me, that I am unlovable and unworthy for a relationship with God, and I spent years trying to figure out how to “fix” that. At the lowest point of my life I finally gave up and said to God I was quitting unless He revealed himself to me in a way that was clearly Him, that my own stubborn heart could understand, and that would convince me not to quit following Him. What followed was definitely Him instructing me to do the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life. But at that point I had nothing to lose.
I have others around me that have been desperate for God, and most if not all have had to go through extreme difficulty to come to a closer walk with Him. I am not sure why so many go through an extremely painful process to experience more deeply. I think part of it may be the tearing away from all that we hold dear, those things we hold on to for dear life to make us feel okay. Our minds have built fortresses of wrong thinking that get blown apart in times of difficulty. You think you know, but you really don’t. You discover that all you thought to be true is in fact a house built on sand. Our flawed expectations lead us astray.
We ask for things that God cannot answer – we are asking for the wrong things. We also pray for things that already ARE because of the cross, e.g.., we beg for forgiveness when we ARE forgiven already. We ask for God to be with us, when he is ALREADY with us. The subtleties of these sorts of things really interfere with our understanding how we relate with Him. For instance, we are told in the Bible we can boldly enter His throne room of grace. Yet, for some reason we think we are dirty and need to clean ourselves before we can go to God. So our prayer that God would make us holy and righteous so we can fellowship with Him is not answered because we already are holy and righteous and what holds us back is actually our bad thinking. If you think a certain way, the way you act follows.
I think the painful process begins to strip away the human self sufficiency and bring us to the truth that we are not capable of anything, and that it is all God’s grace extended to us.
My recommendation? Don’t look at your ability, don’t look at your circumstances, or all the reasons why you might not be hearing. Stop trying to figure out how you should do it better, stop listening to all the people out there telling you how to. They all fall short because they are based in human fleshly thinking and ability. Go to Papa and say:
“I am exhausted in trying to figure this out. I really want You. I really want to know You. I really want to trust You. I know you want this for me too. In whatever way You want to accomplish that in me I am willing to accept because I believe You know me better than I know myself and that you love me unconditionally. Work in me to will and to do according to your good pleasure. The next move is Yours. Give me ears to hear and eyes to see. ”
I have done this continually for 17 years and have found He answers this prayer again and again. Never in the way I thought He would – which still makes me delightfully surprised, because it is always about Him doing it and not me.
I hope these words encourage rather than add to the frustration.
Being on vacation and having lots of family around, I’ve had little time to follow this thread, especially for all the commenting going on. I love that people are trying to process their own journey and sort out why God may not be making himself known to them in a way they understand. However, if that turns to self-blame, or conclusions about God (he is unfair, plays favorites) then it can be harmful. Also, it is most valuable that we keep processing our own journey and not try to process someone else’s. We think we know what someone means because we read their comment here, but there is a whole life and history behind those words that give them a deeper, richer content than any comment can contain. So please don’t think you have “the answer” for someone else. I am convinced of this God knows us all, and wants us to know him. Letting him lead us to that reality is not easy in a world twisted by sin and then distorted by religious performance and shame. But he said keep on seeking, keep on asking, keep on knocking, not because he is reluctant to answer, but because this connection takes a bit of doing and he doesn’t want you to grow weary or give up. He wants this and is extending himself to you in the best way possible; he’s also at work within you to help you learn to pick up that signal with growing freedom. Don’t give up. Don’t try to earn it for yourself, trust his Spirit within you to keep drawing you into his reality. I find the best way for me to think through where his voice and heart are is what it would take for me to relax into that reality, instead of question it, fight it, or try to produce it by some heroic spiritual act on my part. I’m praying for all of you here who are finding that connection distant and frustrating. He knows and he is at work to quell the storm and invite you into the knowing of him.
Whether it is me trying to fix me…or thinking I am unlovable and trying to prove my worth…or I have unrealistic expectations of him…or have pride…or have shame…or fear…or trauma…or control issues…or me thinking I am self-sufficient…or I have other stuff that gets in the way that I am most likely not even aware of…or I am too immature…or am thinking too much with my intellectual brain – or maybe not enough with my intellectual brain…or I am just whining…or I need to pray more…or I am tuned to the wrong frequency…or I need to read my bible more or less…or I need to find someone further along in their spiritual journey to sort this out…or I need to stand against the enemy more…or I need to be more positive…or I misinterpret scripture…or I need to be more realistic…or I am trying too hard and I need to learn to relax…or Satan is screwing with my head…or the world is…or I am…or I come from major dysfunction…or I have an entitled attitude…or whatever else I have not listed that gets in the way of knowing his love; it sure seems like the odds are greatly stacked against us in coming to a place of living loved!
And if I am to come to this place, my guess is it will likely take many more years to decades! Maybe I am still missing something, but I still do not understand why this process takes soooo long to unravel. And many of the people I have talked with about this journey say it has also taken them many years to unravel, and it seems like many commenting on this blog have taken many years to unravel. Quite frankly, I just don’t know what to rely on anymore.
I am the father of two daughters (now have five grandson’s) and one of the things as a parent that stands out when your child is first born is how much they have absolutely no idea about what this world is all about, what or who this big ugly mug is smiling so lovingly at them and absolutely no clue whatsoever of how to get along with me – but what is clearly evident to every parent out there is just how quickly they recognise they are loved and how quickly they develop a deep strong relationship connection with you. And it’s very clear that the reason they are able to develop such a deep connection with their parents and usually very quickly with their siblings is because they sense a deep peace and assurance that they are accepted and loved and belong i.e. they feel safe confident secure et cetera. In what ways you think my/your relationship with God (and his family) would be any different?
In these early days it would be insane for me as a parent to try to communicate with my daughter and interact with them as you would with say a 10 year old or say a 20 year old and even more insane for me to expect them to be able to respond in any way other than what they were able to at this age and stage of their life. Even worse, as so often happens in the Christian religion, we take newborn babes and demand they behave like 50-year-olds, threatening shaming shunning and all sorts of other psychological abuse should they resist or where ever they fall short. So much of what I’m hearing on these posts reflects the damage we would expect to be done to a babe, child, teenager should they experience the very same type of ‘insane treatment’ that many of us have suffered at the hands of equally damaged ‘siblings’, particularly when it happens in the early years of the development of our trust and love of our new heavenly dad.
Once you recognise that you are accepted and loved by our heavenly dad as one of his kids and that you do belong to him and his family, what some of the older siblings here are encouraging is that you relax into that same parental love God has for you as a natural parent has to their own child, and even if you can’t find siblings at this stage able to reinforce that love and acceptance, just rest in whatever age and stage of this new life that you think best fits you e.g. a babe, a two year old, a four-year old, or like myself, around about a 12 year old, trusting your new parent has got you in every way you need right at this time…….
Thank you, Ken, for your wonderful words of encouragement. They are life giving!!! I have some friends who talk like you, and they are life-givers also! Become like a little child is about the only thing I am able to do consistently over the last couple of years, with out much effort. You say you are about a 12 year old; I think I mostly am a 2-5 year old right now. Thanks for being real!
No worries Jim (just got back in town). Man I wish I had folk in my area (and life) to share like this with me also, particularly during some of the darker years. If you have friends who talk to you like this as you say, then I think I think you’re truly blessed my friend.
Like Lisa, my wife and I just about fell on the floor laughing, as we so identified with your ‘dummy split’. I originally wanted to say something about that but Gloria cautioned me, worried that you could be in a dark place right now and might not appreciate hearing that.
I’ve often thought about how God as a person has many ‘facets’ to who he is, just like a man who is a husband, father, who works to be a provider to his family, who feels deeply responsible for them, yet he can also be a soldier who, in the heat of a battle slays others in vicious hand-to-hand combat. His children (and wife) may be well aware of what he is not just capable of, but actually done in combat – but out of the security of knowing his love, tenderness, compassion and fierce protection of them, they are able to rest in total confidence/trust of him and his heart towards them as his family. I think it is no different with the many facets of God as a person, and if we have others focus us only on the ‘fierce warrior’ facet, we will always shrink back and fear that he might deal with us in the same way if he decided to take us to task over the many shortcomings/faults, sins et cetera we all know we have in our lives. The Christian religion, in my opinion, deliberately tends to focus too heavily on the ‘fierce warrior’ or ‘just punisher of evil’ facet of who God is and most of us get why they do that e.g. because doubt and fear are great motivators to gain power and control over others to harness them up to build your kingdom empire and make a name for yourself, whereas trust and love (and friendship) will have us listening to Jesus himself and focusing on what he puts on our hearts in this life. The kingdom builders know they can’t harness that up for themselves so even though I think that many are not consciously doing so i.e. this is happening for many on a subconscious level, they instinctively know they need to keep us focused on whatever shortcomings, sins et cetera they can dredge up, which as we know, keeps us totally focused on what we think we don’t have or on what ways we think we are failing short et cetera, rather than focus us on the amazing person Jesus really is and the equally amazing offer of reconciliation, adoption and the subsequent oneness and unity, freedom and love of his Kingdom family.
It is fantastic to have folk (like Wayne) always working to refocus us all on all those amazing wonderful facets of God (and his son) which is so lacking out there……
Yes, I have some amazing friends!!! Ken, any chance you live near Williamsburg, VA? Darker years is exactly what I am in…Very Dark! I tried so hard to never again experience dark years, like I did as a child; but I can not control what happens no matter how much I want to.
I do not know what ‘dummy split’ means; what is it?
Yes, I agree; the christian religion focuses on ‘fierce warrior.” In my sampling of organizational church websites, I find a pattern of christian ‘leadership’ having a military background. Elders, deacons, pastors, etc…, tend to have this military experience. I am not against military, however, I do not find the journey of the soul is best navigated by a military mindset. I guess it is beneficial if one focuses on the ‘fierce warrior’ aspect of god.
Thanks again, Ken, for your words of life!!!
Ha ha! That cracked me up. It was supposed to say “dummy spit” e.g. a baby cracking up and spitting a dummy. I can’t type for nuts, so I use voice recognition software (Dragon NaturallySpeaking) and it doesn’t always get my Aussie accent and often when doing a quick once over before I post, my mind tends to see or to put in the right words as I do the proof read even if they are completely wrong or misspelt.
I’m sorry, I’m nowhere near North America, but mate, if you feel to have a chat with me, you will find my email address on Lifestream under Wayne’s ‘connect’ page – look for ‘Australia’ and ‘Cairns’ and that’s me…
Jim, I’m sorry but I don’t mean to be mean but the first part of your post made me laugh because that is exactly the type of mental process I find myself going over again and again! It’s like this crazy pit that I never seem to dig out of unless I just put it down and disengage. I guess my laughing is dark humor. : ) I’ve come to think that all this finger pointing at myself for not connecting to God is part of a sickness that leads to being depressed. But I can’t just seem to stop pointing at someone. So maybe God is my new bad guy.
I know that now that I’m over 60, I don’t have the stamina to “try” like I used to. Like you mentioned I have tried everything. Seriously. Sometimes it seemed I was getting closer to God but then poof it seemed like it was all an illusion. Now I feel like I need to quit searching so hard. It’s time consuming and draining and I’m still tempted to blame myself.
I’m also tired of witnessing the cruelty and evil in this world. It is painful to witness. What I mean is the children who are beaten or made to have sex with adults (low estimate 30% of boys and 40% girls in the US), the women who have been “circumcised” and will never have sexual pleasure (estimated 200 million females), genocides (at least 8 since WW II), human slavery (worldwide millions of people today as I write this) and this is not all that’s going on! This stuff makes me sad. And God if he’s there, has to be more upset than I because he should be seeing it all bold in his face. That just leads me to ask questions all the more!
According to Wayne and John L, it’s good that I’m getting tired of ‘trying’ things myself and of blaming myself. I hope they are right, they sound confident. I used to like feeling secure that God was taking care of things and that he would sort it out. Now I think, “you should have been out there “taking care of things” instead of sitting in a thousand church services!
John L and Wayne, I really appreciate your input. I felt like a little fresh air blew by me for a minute. : ) Jim and Mitzi and others I’ve lost track of, I hope you’ll keep sharing because I appreciate hearing your thoughts.
Hi Lisa, Confidence. Ha, LOL. 🙂
I sure did not have any years ago, and it is still so wobbly at times. Any confidence that was gained was learned through extremely difficult circumstances and tremendous pain and coming out of it over many years of doubting, questioning and ongoing failure.
What I remember at some point was a prayer I made: I want to trust you, teach me to trust you. And at the time, I felt the need to start looking at the nature/character (the Name) of God beginning with: The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. I did not realize it at the time, but coming to know who He is and trusting Him go hand in hand.
Over time, as I focused on His character and nature, and stopped looking at myself, I began to realize He was perhaps indeed trustworthy, that so much of what he was offering was about Him reaching out and doing what was necessary because I simply could not. I began to rely on His ability and His “doing” rather than my own.
As I began to see and trust in His character, I began to see how that played out in my life and how He continually provided for me in all areas of my life. Even in my failures, I began to see the glory of grace as described by Paul. Then when I saw how it played out, I actually had a tangibleness to the trustworthiness of God which then increased my trust and confidence. Recently I realized that trust actually now existed (oh wow). In some areas of my life, my confidence in who He is quite high, but then in other areas I am still very much learning. I do not think it will be a process that ever ends.
I have become fully convinced that I am not going to ever attain perfection in my flesh or my ability, that the pursuit of that in my flesh is a waste of time, and any “movement forward” is completely a work of His Spirit in me. I am limited in my strength and abilities, with filters and experiences that still blind me and limit me. But this does not matter because Papa lives in eternity, see my entire life from start to finish and loves me anyway. He extends his grace and mercy fully knowing how much I will learn and develop in understanding His truth, and how I will NOT learn as well. He carries me anyway, He loves me anyway, He even like me! Who am I to argue with God Almighty and say I am unloveable? 🙂
Looking at ourselves and the world becomes depressing, so let’s stop looking at them/ourselves and look towards the Beautiful One. If the world were a beautiful place, we would not need God, how quickly we forget when things are going well. Things are bad because man has abandoned God. And boy, does it get bad without His Spirit in peoples lives. But we discover His presence even in the midst of the mess, its just different than we prefer, yet ultimately we discover, His approach is the most life giving.
I am convinced of that… 🙂
Love what your saying John L. In so many ways, many of us are like Luther who at one point of his life experience was so inwardly focused on his sinfulness, failings, shortcomings, unworthiness, shame and guilt, and inability to connect and commune with God in a way that left him with peace and assurance et cetera he was completely unable to see the amazing mercy favour and love the heavenly father already had towards him. It wasn’t until one of his mentors recognised that Luther needed to break out of that self focused mindset (which only fed into his doubts and fears) and that the best way for that to happen was for him to start reaching out to care for those who needed an understanding and reassurance of God’s love mercy favour towards them through Messiah – and reassurance that he was lovingly working in their lives. Most of us know the story but for me, what really hit home in my life was how that every time I did reach out to support others even in the midst of my own struggles, I found God speaking profoundly as I was actually trying to encourage confirm teach others, often finding Jesus filling out major pieces of the puzzle I knew was still missing for me even as I was speaking. So since then I have come to trust that whenever we are fulfilling his new instruction to love one another as I have loved you e.g. fulfilling the “one another’s” we are doing his will and he will always be clearest and closest in this life when “two or three are gathered in my name” where “in my name” always refers to his will, authority and purpose. In short, his ‘will authority and purpose’ is always referring to the “love one another as I have loved you” – remembering of course that in Gods kingdom family, love and freedom belong together like two peas in a pod…
Lisa, I like dark humor; helps me find some joy in the middle of pain and confusion. Depression is awful, isn’t it? At least for me it is! It is this silent killer that often masquerades behind a smile.
Thanks for letting me know that you have similar thoughts and questions. I know I can’t be the only one who thinks some of the things I write (question), but sometimes I wonder… Sometimes I wonder if I need to stop posting some of the things I question and doubt on this blog, because maybe I am just being antagonistic. I don’t think that is my motive. However, i wonder nonetheless if i should take my doubts and questions elsewhere. So thank you for sharing with me that you connect with them!
Hi Lisa, I also appreciate hearing the thoughts of the others. Along with you I feel tired of seeing the horrible darkness in the world, then on a smaller level, the pain in my own family and around my own life. The silence (or perceptually anyway) of God is so hard to accept at times and it is refreshing to think “ok…maybe I can just put all of those efforts down and stop all the trying”. Sorting that out is so messy…and for each of us looks different in that we are unique. Just wanted you to know that there are others out there who walk through similar pain…appreciate hearing your contributions as well.
That’s why people don’t make an effort to mend what they broke.
It’s mindboggling when mature believers resist the repairing process. Many excuses. And I think the pride is so thick that it is hard for them to look at themselves.
I have suffered from scary vertigo. I went through years of scans, etc.
This doctor rightly corrected the problem. Many years of prayer and tears. May he be able to help your family too.
Rick Foster, Palm Desert, CA
I prayed many years in tears. But! Once I got to the right doctor, my life changed.
Just felt to throw this out there before I headed out of town for a couple of days: I know for many who have gone through the whole signs and wonders thing, which I had a brief encounter with when right on the heels of exiting a cult, I did a short stint as a full-time youth ‘pastor’ in an Assemblies of God group (yeah, snapping up zealous ex cult members became a thing back then. Hey – go figure) which was just before things really went nuts with all that – however, that short stint was enough to demonstrate to me how easy it was to connect an ‘experience’ to both your spirituality and to your sense of peace and assurance that God loves and accepts you. While over the last 40 odd years I have had my fair share of ‘experiences’ which I am confident God was in, some ecstatic, some were sobering but most were a deep releasing with many tears during many of my darker times in this journey. However, I tend to count those as the cream on the cake so to speak, not the substance, as for me, I felt Jesus had placed a need before me back around 1980 which he invited me to journey with him to see if there was something that together we might be able to respond to that need and who knows, maybe even meet that need. Because of that, ‘the cake ‘so to speak of my relationship with Jesus, I would not describe as an ‘experience’ because since he placed this particular care on my heart and we began working together on it, he then had the opportunity to develop both some ability in me to respond to that need, but more importantly, the ability to be led by him in how I respond to that need. And since then, the substance of my relationship (the cake so to speak) has been one of waking up chatting querying meditating et cetera with him till bedtime mostly about this care/need but as you can imagine, just as much time went into what comes up in everyday life relationships et cetera. Alongside the studying, researching, engaging with others with a common passion and of course, a whole lot of frustration impatience, self doubt et cetera, my journey I think is pretty much experiencing what everyone else goes through in this life when they respond to the care for others we are confident that Jesus is placing on our hearts. And of course, that may not be just a single care i.e. you may have multiple cares or even just simply find yourself called to be fluid each day to respond to whatever/whoever he is placing before you – which I try to do anyway.
I guess my point is (in conjunction with my last post re-Luther) that many of us, due to our ‘experiences’ with the whole signs and wonders crowd get the idea of ‘experiences’ mixed up with our everyday relationship with Jesus and possibly miss that the substance of that relationship with him is more often than not established and matured as we walk in those “good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them”.
I relate to “don’t trust.” I have not trusted for so long. Instead, i was suspicious, paranoid, controlling, second guessing someone’s motives, not believing someone who said they loved me…or liked me. I was always – from a broken and wounded heart – waiting for someone to hurt me again, so I pulled away out of self-protection. I have said on the comments on these blogs several times over the last 1 1/2 years that i am amazed that I have let the walls down so much to people and have learned to trust others more and more… I still get overcome by fear of rejection and abandonment, but I think it lessening…somewhat. However, as much as my trust in people is growing, my trust in God has plummeted to almost nothing.
Ron, this was supposed to be a reply from your comment on 8/8…
I find your last sentence ironic, as far as my experience anyway. I may not agree with the process God uses to gain my trust, but as long as I focus on the results, I can trust Him. Above all it is a peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7), which is independent of circumstances. If I would’ve known in advance before I went on this God journey, everything that I would go through, and would happen to me, I probably would not have went on it at all. My commitment came before knowledge. But Jesus does say to count the cost. There is a cost to following Him. Like I mentioned before, the things I lost. I feel like through it all I was the same person, but others saw the change in me, whether they told me or not. And the further I have went in this journey, the stronger I have gotten. Don’t get me wrong, God is far from finished with me, I realize that. But He extends to me His grace and peace that allows me to endure, at times, more than I think I can handle.
“If I would’ve known in advance before I went on this God journey, everything that I would go through, and would happen to me, I probably would not have went on it at all.” I hear you, Ron! Sometimes I wonder if it would have been better to have taken the blue pill and believe what ever I wanted to believe, as opposed to take the red pill and see how deep the rabbit hole goes (I got to squeeze in a Matrix reference – lol). Thanks for sharing. Focus on the results, even though I may not agree with the process sounds like something I can keep in mind as I go on. Thanks!
Lisa, even if we don’t admit i believe all of us had this questions at some point in our life. I expect more from God. I wait for Him to start the dialog with me, but sometimes i feel that we are looking for a dialog with Him and He is not answering the way we expected to. It seems that we are left alone with our questions. I’ve been too superficial in jnterpreting Jesus life. When He start his ministry healed and delivered from demons. At the end He took the cross. No wonder the confusion of His disciples. But i ask myself: “if He woulden’ t took the cross i could relate to Him?” I think not. We all know the heroes are only in fairytales. He is the big Hero but He accept to suffer (my biggest problem in this world). Sometimes when i am thinking of how much He suffer my doubts becomes usseles. I still strugling to find Him and i don’ t know how to put together my feelings with faith. I relate to God regarding my feelings (whrn i am happy He is there when i am not He is not). But faith has something to do with what i feel today? And if my emotions are not so important why God put that in me? I want an encounter with God because i have so many questions to ask. But when i analose mi question, all of them are about this world and He came to tell us that somewhere in the univers it is another world much better than this. If that is true, my questions are useless, or maybe not. I found out that i am focus on the purpose ( to know God), but the proccess is also important. And on this we have to focus now.
Where i can read Craig’s testimony?
My ‘testimonial’ is in bits and pieces all over this blog. My first post (the big introduction) is in http://thegodjourney.com/2016/12/09/honest-to-god-560/ . I suggest you listen to the podcast on that page first, then read my comments.
Other comments added in podcasts #575, 576, 580, 581, 584, 585, 587, 590, 591, 593, and this one, 594. (near the top) These comments add to that original story, and attempt to clarify things. My hope is that my comments bless people in the same way that God has blessed me. I still find my experiences with God hard to believe, and even harder to describe, but I want everyone to share in it with me.
LOL. Ken, I had to look up ‘dummy spit’, because I still wasn’t sure what it meant. I found that a dummy is another word for pacifier. I finally get what you mean – or at least so I think.
I looked up your email address on Lifestream; thanks for the invite for more conversation! Yep, we are pretty far apart – geographically. Maybe much closer spiritually and relationally. Thanks for sharing!
I like to read or listen your full testimony. Maybe you will share with us sometime. Thank you and God bless you!
He made Heaven and then he made the universe with our beloved earth inside of it!
His hand must be really, really big!