Thoughts on Silence and Intimacy

As I neared the end of this past semester, I knew that I would soon say goodbye to my sweet friend Emily, who just left for Paris for a year (!!) and won’t be back until after I graduate. So reflecting back over the precious year and a half of our friendship, I remembered an experience that Emily and I shared together, which I had intended to blog about for quite some time. So I wrote this late one night when I should have been working on final papers, and am finally getting around to posting it.

Last semester, silence was a significant theme in my spiritual life. I was reading The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen. I found Nouwen’s thoughts on silence to be so profound that I began to practice it as a discipline, first in silent prayer. I wondered what it would be like to spend time with someone else in silence, but I imagined that it would be hideously awkward. Who in the world would I ask to do such a strange thing? Of course Emily was the first person who came to mind – Emily who is amazing at hospitality and quality time, who finds joy in simplicity and excitement in trying new things, whose enthusiasm is contagious, who loves me in spite of my weirdness. So I asked Emily if she would be willing to spend some time with me in silence. Instead of balking at the strangeness of the request, she gladly agreed.

So we walked downtown together to get tea and breakfast, and we spoke only to order our food. Once we had finished eating, after perhaps an hour of quiet togetherness, we broke the silence to talk about our experience of it. Here are a few of the observations I made from our time together.

First, as I had anticipated, it made me pretty uncomfortable at first. Should I look at her, or at my feet? Was I walking too fast? Too slow? Once we got to the restaurant, I wondered if other people noticed us or found our silence strange. Did our waitress think we were mad at each other? Perhaps most uncomfortable of all, I found that eye contact felt painfully vulnerable. As time went on, though, it became easier. And the moments in which we caught the other’s gaze, smiled, and didn’t hurry to glance away – those were truly special moments. It happened almost exactly as Nouwen describes his own experience in his book Reaching Out: “Once in a while we looked at each other with the beginning of a smile pushing away the last remnants of fear and suspicion. It seemed that while the silence grew deeper around us we became more and more aware of a presence embracing both of us.” The world teaches us from a young age that vulnerability is exploited. Yet when we can open ourselves up to another – and perhaps silence can feel even more vulnerable than oversharing – when we feel as though our souls are laid bare to another and we are fully seen, fully known, and fully accepted – it may well be one of the most satisfying experiences of friendship one can have.

Second, I was able to appreciate Emily’s soul beauty in a way that I hadn’t before. Because I wasn’t focused on what either of us was saying, I was free to focus on her being – her grace, the warmth and hospitality of her smile, her sense of being completely at peace in her surroundings – all the things I love most about her. I was able to absorb all of this, savoring and thanking God for these details. Unashamedly appreciating someone in such depth, I think, is in itself a prayer.

Third, as we sat together in silence, time seemed rich and unhurried. It felt like we had all the time in the world, and it was deeper somehow, as if it changed the focus of our togetherness from “catching up” – which in itself seems to imply a hurriedness, a deficit of time. Instead, we were making space just to be with one another.

Finally, the moment that stayed with me the most was our silent gesture of sharing food with one another. I broke a piece off of my strawberry muffin to share with her, and we made eye contact as she accepted it and we ate together. She began to cut a piece off of her egg and avocado sandwich. Recognizing that it was for me, my typical reaction would have been to say “Oh no, that’s ok” and then to say “thank you” when she gave it to me anyway, thus devaluing the gift. This time, I said neither. As she had just done, I accepted it silently, gratefully, and we smiled at each other in mutual acknowledgement of the exchange. Nouwen explains that words are important only insofar as they convey a concept, but in our society we tend to elevate the importance of the words themselves. There is a depth that is lost when we shorthand relational exchanges with phrases that can so easily become trite – “I love you,” “thank you,” et cetera. Slowing down enough to communicate wordlessly deepens our appreciation of the other, creates intimacy, and conveys with greater sincerity what it is that we feel. Often we try to use words as a shortcut to intimacy, but maybe they actually distract us from what it is we are looking for.

Because the discomfort of silence forces us to confront our own insecurities, anxieties, and doubts, we often miss out on what it offers us in return. Maybe it is the solution to our hurriedness. Maybe it is a hidden door to intimacy with God and with others. Maybe if we spent time in silence, we would better know ourselves and our place in this world in which we live.

And perhaps, we might receive an unexpected gift.

Published in: on August 19, 2016 at 10:09 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Sex is Not About Sex

holiday“Sex makes everything complicated,” said Cameron Diaz to Jude Law in a 2006 romantic comedy called The Holiday. “Even if you don’t have it, the not having it makes things complicated.”

She’s right. Sex is complicated. This may be because sex is one of the most misinterpreted and misrepresented things in our culture…and I include church culture in that statement. As such, this post is going to look at sex not from a typical evangelical Christian standpoint, but from a Jesus standpoint.

Let me explain what I mean by that.

Throughout His ministry, in every word He preached and every parable He told, Jesus was concerned with matters of the heart. This has never been as abundantly clear to me as it has been these past few weeks as I’ve studied the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus seeks to reframe a legalistic understanding of the law by showing us that we tend to focus more on the action than on the intent. As the Pharisees demonstrated, it is often easier to regulate and micromanage our actions than it is to undergo a radical change of heart. The former requires control; the latter, surrender. It is more difficult to navigate the ambiguity of the heart than it is to impose fixed outward regulations.

The church’s teaching on sex has become a vicious cycle. Most teenagers growing up in Christian homes are admonished to save sex for marriage. However, for some, this has created a stigma that makes it impossible to have guilt-free sex even within the context of marriage. How can something that has been bad, bad, bad, suddenly become okay? This deeply rooted mindset cannot be overcome in a 15-minute exchange of vows when our minds have been shaped our whole lives by a warped understanding of sex.

And so as it became more acceptable to talk openly about sex, churches began talking about it. A lot. To combat the shame associated with sex, Christians began teaching their children how great sex is, explaining that it’s a special gift from God that we don’t want to “open too early.” Obviously this approach is hardly better, as it dangles sex like a carrot that they can’t have for another 8 years or so. The pendulum has swung too far — now we focus on sex more than we probably should.

With this new understanding came another misconstrued notion about sex, which claims either explicitly or implicitly that if you save sex for marriage, your sex life will be far more gratifying than it would otherwise be. Youth pastors become statistical machines teaching us that monogamous couples have more sex, pure couples have better sex, and it’s all about sex, sex, SEX.

But I’m going to be so bold as to say that Jesus, and the Bible as a whole, teaches that sex is not really about sex at all. And searching “sex” in your concordance to figure out what God thinks about it won’t get you very far, because a well-developed theology of sex is found in:

1) A true understanding of creation. “In the image of God He created them; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27).

Our humanity is uniquely defined by its status of being “in the image of God.” When we truly understand this, not just with our minds but with our hearts, it changes the way we see the rest of humanity. Each person is incredibly valuable regardless of gender, age, race, or social class, and we must treat with reverence whatever God’s holy hands have touched.

We must also understand that God’s creation is what it is; it is neither more, nor less. Pornography is damaging to relationships because it presents an unrealistic expectation of women and of sexuality. It not only causes men to see women as sex objects, but as inferior to the porn stars that feed their addiction. This is a horribly distorted view of creation — a woman’s body is “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Her beauty should be loved and appreciated for what it is, and should not forced to compete with unrealistic fantasies. God created each woman, and each woman is a good creation. Respect her, because she is the image of God and the work of His hands.

And to the women — we tend to be pretty hard on the men because they struggle more with the physical side of this, and sex is a physical act. But if Jesus is right, and lust is a matter of the heart, where does that leave us concerning emotional affairs? When we dreamily indulge in steamy romantic movies and fantasies of Prince Charming, this is also a distortion of reality that the good, honest men in our lives can never live up to. Don’t spend your time wishing that the perfect man exists, because there is no such thing. God created each man, and each man is a good creation. Respect him, because he is the image of God and the work of his hands.

2) A true understanding of surrender. “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1st Corinthians 6:20).

A theme that I see running through each teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is this unspoken phrase, “It doesn’t belong to you.” You don’t have a right to be angry (Matthew 5:21-24); you can’t just dismiss your wife because she isn’t your property to dismiss (Matthew 5:31-32); don’t resist the one who takes your tunic, because it’s not really yours in the first place (Matthew 5:38-42). If even you are not your own and therefore must honor God with your body, then it must surely be true that because she is not yours, you must honor God by the way you treat her body. To use someone in any way (not just sexually), is to objectify them and demean their created status. Lust and pornography are so damaging because they declare that God’s creation exists solely to satisfy our appetites and is not worthy of our respect. We must understand that whatever we desire is not ours for the taking. The creation belongs to the Creator.

3) A true understanding of relationship. “Outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10).

The Bible speaks of equality, of mutual submission, and of sincere love far more than it speaks about sex — but I think that every one of these relational qualities is inseparable from a true understanding of sex. Sex is only one of the many ways that we can choose to selfishly gratify ourselves at the expense of another, but it so easily reflects an imbalance of power and further contributes to chaos and brokenness within the creation. If we were to outdo one another in showing honor, women would not seduce and men would not solicit. There would be no “If you love me, you’ll show me.” Instead, valuing each other as equals, we would seek the highest good of the other.

Marriage doesn’t automatically make sex right. If it’s still a power play within the context of marriage, it’s just as wrong as adultery, because it devalues your partner in the exact same way. If your marriage fails because you’re “sexually incompatible,” you’ve missed the entire point of covenant faithfulness. If your demands cause your partner to feel inferior or ashamed, you have failed to honor him or her. This is what I mean by the phrase I used earlier, “the ambiguity of the heart.” Because there’s not one straightforward rule that divides appropriate sex from inappropriate sex, we have to critically examine the motives of our hearts. And sometimes that can be more difficult and painful than following a set of rules.

How does this change the way we teach about sex?

1) These foundational principles apply to far more than sex. 

If you reread the first two, you’ll find that a theology of environmentalism flows just as easily as a theology of sex. If you understand the second two, you’ll learn that leadership in any capacity is a matter of servanthood, not of coercive power.

If we teach our children these fundamental truths of Kingdom living as a framework for their lives, rather than rules about sex that have little or no context to support them, it will make far more sense in light of the big picture.

2) It shifts the focus from sex to purity.

Creating rules about sex is like treating the symptoms of an illness rather than the cause. When we constantly teach abstinence, the focus is still on sex, when sex is clearly not the main point of sex at all. When we teach relational (not just sexual) purity, questions like “How far is too far” become irrelevant. These principles shift the question from “How selfish can I be?” to “How unselfish can I be?” They don’t just tell us why sex outside of marriage is wrong; they teach us why purity outside of marriage is right.

3) It reframes the whole biblical discussion of sex.

Why is the Song of Solomon in the Bible? It represents a loving, egalitarian sexual relationship.

Under the law of Moses, why would a man who raped a woman have to marry her? Because he had dishonored her, and now he was bound to care for her.

Why did Jesus say that divorce is tantamount to adultery? Because both treat your spouse as disposable, rather than caring for him or her as a precious creation of God.

When we seek to understand the Word of God, proof texting misses the mark. All of Scripture is bound up together in a beautiful mosaic of Kingdom values, and until we see the big picture, we won’t understand where each piece fits in. If Scriptures about sex aren’t about sex, they must be about far more.

So take a moment and examine your heart. Do you view your brothers and sisters in Christ with reverence, or with objectifying lust? Does your sexual relationship honor and validate your spouse, or does it just satisfy your desires? Is sex about sex for you? Or is it an expression of something far deeper?

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for one another, love one another deeply, from the heart. –1st Peter 1:22.

For further reading that has recently helped to shape and refine my understanding of sex and relationship, you can click on the following links:

The Porn Myth — Naomi Wolf

My Virginity Mistake — Jessica Henriquez

Christians Are Not Called to Have Amazing Sex — Rachel Pietka

Seeking God

“Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge Him.  As surely as the sun rises, He will appear; He will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” –Hosea 6:3

“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” –James 4:8

If you felt like God was distant in 2012…

If you’re longing to hear His voice again…

If you want to experience the adventure of a relationship with Him…

…Take these words to heart.

God is not hiding from you, beloved.  He is waiting for you.  Seek, and you will find.

Published in: on January 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , ,

Dear Grace: On Wrestling With God

There is nothing more intimidating than being asked a deep theological question by a 13-year-old who looks up to you.  But there is also nothing I love more.  Sometimes I flounder a bit, and sometimes I have to admit that I don’t have all the answers.

Tonight, in the middle of a crowded and noisy restaurant with the youth band playing Christmas carols, struggling to be heard over the noise, Grace asked me one of these questions.

“I just learned the story of Jacob wrestling with God.  Was that…okay? I mean, is that a sin?”

Instead of answering, I simply asked Grace this question: “Have you ever wrestled with God?”

She thought about this for a moment. “You mean mentally? Yeah…yeah, I have.”

“Do you think that was a sin?” I asked her.

“I’m not sure,” she answered. “If it is, I guess I’ve sinned a lot.”

“Do you remember from the story what Jacob said to God?  Why he wrestled with Him?” I asked. “He said he wouldn’t let go until God blessed him.  Sometimes we have to doubt before we can believe, and sometimes we have to wrestle with God before we can receive blessing.”

She considered this. “I feel like the concept of doubt has been showing up in my life a lot lately,” she responded. “My mom and I were talking about it the other day, and now you just mentioned it.”

I shrugged. “We all go through doubt.  Some of the greatest people of the faith are the ones who have wrestled with the hard questions. Try reading through the Psalms and see if David didn’t do some of his own wrestling with God.”

Long after the Christmas party was over that night, I continued to think about her question.  Is it a sin to wrestle with God?  I pretty much told her no, but do I act like that’s true?  I’ve done a lot of hiding the past week because I’m afraid to voice some of my frustrations.  So my Bible has sat in my backpack for a few days, sadly neglected, because I can’t seem to read it while ignoring the elephant in the room.  So Grace’s question made me do a lot of thinking.  And praying.  And wrestling.

So, Grace, if you ever get a chance to read this, here’s my answer.

Dear Grace,

It’s okay to wrestle with God.  Don’t be afraid of messing up by wrestling with Him.  Sin is a far deeper problem than just messing up, than thinking or saying or doing the wrong thing.  Sin is disconnectedness from God.  Sometimes we have such a tiny view of sin that we think it’s something we do, something that we think we can manage or fix, but we can’t.  The very second that humanity chose to turn away from God, we lost the beautiful intimacy with Him that we were meant to have.  Sin at its core is just the gap between us and God.  So sometimes I think we try to pretend that we have a relationship with God by doing everything right, but pretending can’t bridge the gap.  We don’t want to get into fights with Him because that must mean we don’t love Him, but that’s not the way real relationships work.  Real relationships don’t pretend like there aren’t problems or miscommunications; they work through them. They wrestle with them.

You see, sin is anything that keeps us away from God.  And if you wrestle with God, you’re closer to Him than you’ve ever been.  You’re making physical contact, skin on skin, looking Him right in the eye, saying that you’re not letting go until He blesses you.  When you grapple with the God of the Universe, you’re being more open and transparent and vulnerable than ever before.

But if you leave your Bible in your backpack and hide because you’re ashamed of your feelings, the gap just got that much wider.  God bridged that gap by sending Jesus to experience life the same way we do.  He understands our feelings.  And He’s big enough to handle our questions.

So I think it was okay that Jacob wrestled with God.  And I think it’s okay if you do too.

Love,

Lauren.

The New Restoration?

Maybe just because I’m a Bible major (now legit with a pair of Chacos which I just purchased today and which were undoubtedly an automatic ticket upgrade for heaven), I am fascinated with the study of how religion changes.

Every few decades, a new generation seeks to establish its own stake in the ground, to seek the truth for itself, to begin a new movement of faith. You see, while the Church is a perfect concept, it is made up of imperfect people. Every new movement, every new denomination, is begun with sincere intentions, but as with everything else in this broken world, decay is inevitable. Motives are forgotten, and we cling to traditions instead. Culture changes. People change. The movement, once so aligned with the truth, begins to shift from the original pattern….

Until up springs a generation of bold young leaders who realize that a change has to be made. It’s time to overturn the corrupted ideal and return to the beginning, throwing out traditions and trying again to find the pure, uncluttered truth. The previous generation sees what’s happening and attributes it to youth’s impulsiveness and self-centered desire for something new and exciting. But I, having grown up in the traditional church of Christ and now on the edge of what I believe is a new restoration, see both sides and understand what the younger leaders are trying to do. We really do want to return to what we see in the Bible. At least, I know I do.

The Christian Chronicle recently published a fascinating article about this paradigm shift, which you can read here. The Restoration of the 1800’s was a movement to return to simple New Testament Christianity which resulted in the churches of Christ. Now, large numbers of young adults are moving away from the title church of Christ and gravitating towards a nondenominational church community. While many church of Christ adherents are alarmed, thinking that they are losing followers, others have a different view of what’s happening. The article quotes Alan Henderson, chairman of the Bible dept. at Greater Atlanta Christian School (affiliated with the churches of Christ): “Churches of Christ should be at the forefront of welcoming this trend toward non-denominational following of Jesus. After all, isn’t that what we have worked for — and prayed for — for generations?”

There’s your basic introduction to what’s going on. Of course, I’ll be the first to admit that “nondenominational” has practically become a label and denomination of its own, and a few generations from now I’m sure there will be another movement to fix what’s become broken yet again. But I see a lot of cool things happening within this new restoration that I think today’s young adults are getting right.

When my parents were growing up, they heard a lot of “hell fire and damnation” sermons with an emphasis on works and the narrow path. Then there was a shift toward grace and love — “You can’t do anything bad enough to keep you out of heaven!” But now, this new generation seems to be trying to strike a balance. This generation isn’t separating the OT God and the NT God. They’re realizing that God is love and justice. He is grace and intolerance. He loves us the way we are…but He loves us too much to leave us the way we are.

This has created a slew of new Christian buzz-words and popular phrases that I’ve noticed. We’re not on the dreamy, romantic side of love anymore. Here’s an intense, passionate, tough love. A few years ago, one of the hottest songs was “How He Loves.” Now the one playing on the Christian radio stations is the Newsboys latest, “Let heaven roar and fire fall, come shake the ground with the sound of revival.” I’ve noticed at Sanctuary (an instrumental worship night actually held at a church of Christ) the language that the worship leader uses when he prays — words like “Crash.” “Invade.” “Destroy.”

Did I say “new” words? Actually, it reminds me of something John Donne wrote back in the 17th century. “That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.” What John Donne wrote was actually pretty shocking for his time as well. After all, there’s really nothing new under the sun, is there?

Bestselling books like Radical and Crazy Love point to another defining characteristic of this generation’s religion: we want to be different. We want to overturn society, we want to be loud, we want to change things. We’re not ashamed of our faith. We don’t want to stay in our church building. We’re passionate about social justice in the name of Jesus, and we’re desperate for revival, for revolution. We have a big faith, and we want to move the mountains. We’re not satisfied with traditions. We’re reaching for something more.

This desire to go beyond tradition, however, leads to the controversial slogan, “No religion, just a relationship”, and Jeff Bethke’s viral video “Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus.” If you haven’t seen it yet, watch it below:

This video caused a lot of controversy over the definition of religion. Technically, religion is something one “believes in and devotedly follows.” From context, though, it’s pretty easy to figure out that religion means something different to this generation. Being in youth ministry and following the latest Christian trends, I’m pretty on top of the context. Religion has become a negative term describing something like legalistic hypocrisy or Pharisaical self-righteousness. This generation hates, hates, hates hypocrisy, and more than anything else, we want to be authentic. Even in Jeff’s description of his video he says, “[This is] a poem I wrote to highlight the difference between Jesus and false religion…at its core Jesus’ gospel…is in pure opposition to self-righteousness/self-justification.”

I don’t agree with the terminology just because it has created so much tension in the transition, but just know that this generation doesn’t hate the Church. They hate the decay that our imperfection has caused. And that’s why we’re moving back to what we see in the Bible, to the original pattern that we seem to have lost sight of. We just maybe haven’t come up with the best slogans. 🙂 We’re not perfect either, but we’re searching, and I’m excited to see what God is going to do with the passion of this generation.

Anyways, this is just my nerdy Bible major take on what’s going on, so I just wanted to share it with you all and try to bridge the gap a little so you can get an insider’s perspective.

The Fairy Tale

Written March 22, 2011.

The princesses in the fairy tales were a constant source of envy to me. Undiminished by time, rather than fading as I outgrew the Disney phase, the envy I felt became a desperate longing, a burning desire within me to experience the same happily after ever that characterized the lives of my idol princesses – especially Sleeping Beauty, the one whose charmed life I longed to live. Growing older, seeing relationships crumble around me and experiencing for myself the pain of a trusting heart broken by a shallow imitation of love and a “happy ending” turned sour, I began to think in despair that perhaps the stories I held so dear to my heart were only fairy tales after all, unattainable by an average girl like me.

Though the expectation was gone, the desire remained, rooting itself in the bittersweet resignation of my heart. Did there really exist a love so powerful that, as for Sleeping Beauty, it could reach through the darkness, conquer evil, and wake me from the curse, resurrecting my dream from its dormant state?

It did exist. And it found me. I never knew the depth of the feeling I had longed for till I awakened to look into his eyes for the first time. The intensity of love I saw reflected there took my breath away. I was cursed, yet he found me valuable. It had been my own choice to touch the enticing spindle that had laid me here in death, yet he came for me anyway. He, like Prince Phillip, braved thorns to undo the power of the curse. He fought the evil powers of darkness to rescue me from the palace that once seemed so attractive but was now nothing more than a decaying dungeon from which I could not escape. Armed only with a love so strong that its purpose could not be overcome, he was willing to sacrifice anything to make a dead girl his princess.

It took him three days to fight his way through the barriers that the curse – really, that my own foolish actions – had erected around me. I was far from beautiful by the time he reached me, yet he did not hesitate even for a moment before bending down to breathe new life into my cold and graying lips. The moment my eyes fluttered open and I saw love for the first time, I knew that the fairy tales were true. And I knew that, this time, there would be a happily ever after.

Published in: on April 9, 2011 at 3:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

An Unconditional Relationship

Written December 26, 2010.

Relationships are becoming increasingly wishy-washy. In a society where nearly half of all marriages end in divorce and many more turn into apathy or unhappiness, there is hardly any sort of standard left. As our culture becomes progressively more absorbed with “me, myself, and I”, we have adopted a mentality of selfishness. If your partner doesn’t give you those warm fuzzy feelings anymore, if you’re not constantly high on romance, then you’ve fallen out of love and it’s time to move on. But here’s the reality of it: that high you feel when you’re with a new person is not love. It’s infatuation. We have cheapened something real, something deep, something pure, and used it to describe a fleeting feeling. Obviously this is a serious thing for marriages and families. We all know that. Perhaps not quite as evident, though, is the subtle way this mentality affects our relationship with God.

Throughout the Bible, there is a metaphor used to describe God’s relationship with his people as comparable to that of a bridegroom and his bride. In this day and age, we romanticize this comparison almost to the point of creepiness (straight guys feel a little uncomfortable thinking about “falling in love” with Jesus), and it becomes stripped of its meaning. We portray God almost as an ideal boyfriend, trying to fit Him to the expectations that go along with the stereotype. Then when hard times hit and the high becomes a low, what’s left? Only frustration and disappointment remain, and it’s due to our society’s relationship paradigm shift. We need to stop reading the Bible through the eyes of the 21st century.

You see, Jesus’ audience understood the metaphor he used about the bride and bridegroom. They understood that love was not an unreliable emotion. They understood that love, at its rock-solid core, was faithfulness – unconditional, unwavering, unending faithfulness. Love meant knowing that someone would always be there for you, that someone would take care of you no matter what. Love meant security. Love was a choice.

Why in the world would we want to trade in something so powerful for a shallow imitation? We’re all about the feelings, but love is proved to be legit when feelings are overridden by actions. We’re disillusioned and disappointed when God doesn’t make us feel safe, but He’s a step ahead of our emotions; we are safe, and that’s all that matters. God has promised never to leave or forsake us, and that is the foundation of the bride metaphor.

Now for the flip side: a skewed perception of our relationship with God colors the way we approach our faith, and the outcome has not been entirely favorable. Unconditional? Hardly. We let our emotions dictate our actions. If the feeling isn’t there, we use that as an excuse to back off. We can’t play our part because our heart’s not in it; we don’t feel like praying if we don’t feel God’s presence. Our friends in this society nod sympathetically, but in a culture of arranged marriages, such statements would necessitate a headdesk. The 1st century listeners who understood the bride/bridegroom comparison also understood that actions not only characterize unconditional love regardless of feelings, but in many cases, actions produce feelings as well. It’s a simple matter of the Law of Equivalent Exchange – you can’t get something from nothing. A relationship doesn’t magically happen without effort on your part.

Your relationship with God is based on a foundation that you create; the strength and stability of that foundation depend on the material with which you build it. Proactively lead your heart, and see your relationship withstand time and trials. Sit idly by, and watch it crumble.

Published in: on April 9, 2011 at 2:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,