Feb
29
2012

The outward work will never be puny if the inward work is great. And the outward work can never be great or even good if the inward one is puny or of little worth. The inward work invariably includes in itself all expansiveness, all breadth, all length, all depth. Such a work receives and draws all its being from nowhere else except from and in the heart of God. Meister Eckhart

Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet. Bob Dylan   

The other night I was watching a show on television and a woman being interviewed said that she had grown up in a “good Christian” home. I’ve heard that phrase a lot lately. We all want to be good Christians, don’t we? But the question is—what is a “good Christian?” Is a good Christian one who says they believe in God? Is a good Christian one who does all the right things: doesn’t go see rated R movies, or cuss, spit or have tattoos? Is a good Christian one who goes to church every Sunday and every Wednesday? Is a good Christian one who reads the Bible every morning without missing a single day for years and years? Is a good Christian one who serves down at the homeless shelter every other weekend? Is a good Christian one who prays before each meal, head bowed and eyes closed? Is a good Christian one who has memorized a whole slew of Bible verses and can recite them on command? Is a good Christian someone who tithes 15% of their gross income? Is a good Christian one who commits his life to being a pastor, a deacon or a missionary to some forgotten world? What exactly is a good Christian? I think a good Christian is one who loves God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength and then also loves their neighbor as themselves. But one can only do that by being in an ever-growing relationship with Jesus. These are his words—not mine.

So with this, some years ago I was asked one of the most difficult questions I have ever encountered as a psychologist. The question caught me off guard. A young wife stared at me seriously and almost in a whisper, reluctantly asked a simple, but profound question. Her words were uncomplicated as she asked, “How do I have a relationship with God?” You have to understand that this was a twenty-six year old woman who had grown up in the church, had attended church for many years, and I know for a fact, heard some very good sermons on this very question while attending there. Yet this question kept at her, so much so that in the silence that sometimes disturbs a counseling session, her question emerged, and it probably lingered in her for years unspoken. However, her problem was not so straightforward. She was really asking a more complex question—how do I know God? I thought—now, that is a question! It made me wonder, how many others also wish to ask that very question?

Beyond this, she was looking for something that she had never experienced—she did her devotions; she attended church regularly; she stood up and sang the songs during the worship during the service. This young woman was looking for friendship. As Bernard of Clairvaux said nearly a thousand years ago about his relationship with God, “I have a friend. I have freed my soul.” Think about that—what does that mean to have your soul freed? That’s what this client of mine wanted; she wanted to be freed. Yet she knew deep in her heart the relationship with God she had was not doing this—there was little, if any, freedom in her soul. She knew deep down that there was something more dynamic, more all-encompassing and she wanted it.

Very slowly, I began to explain to her this process and the journey I will detail in this blog. To be honest, I had to think about that question more deeply than I ever had. I wanted to give her the right answer and not just a line. This is a motivation of why I write—one Thursday evening a young wife asked a question that called out to be answered—how can someone have a freeing relationship with their Creator? Brennan Manning paints the answer to this question in bright colors: “Religion is not a matter of learning how to think about God, but actually encountering him.” This woman, like so many others, no longer wanted to just think about God or play games with him, she desired to encounter him. Was that even possible?

 


In: Friend to Jesus
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