Man is created by God in His image and likeness and through faith in Lord Jesus we become part of God’s Divine family. But situations develop in our lives that we find ourselves distanced not only from our near and dear ones but also from God. We fail to understand the reason for our feelings of God having deserted us in our trials and tribulations whereas God remains very close, rather just a call/prayer away to step in to help. In that self and devil created darkness around us we ignore the light that leads us out into abundant life in Him.
Why do our prayers fail to reach God? – When God breathed life into the nostrils of Adam created from dust, God completed the process of creating man by giving him a spirit to communicate with Him, a soul to have feelings, emotions and desires and a body to live in (Genesis 2:7). Man being a spirit, the body is supposed to be under his control and obedience. God then forbade man to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17). Eve used her body senses and not the knowledge of her spirit when eating the fruit for she saw the tree and found it pleasant to the eyes and desirable to eat (Genesis 3:6). With this act the control was reversed from the spirit to the body. In this changed state we lost our ability to communicate directly with God. God knew that this would happen and He planned for it and revealed His plan of redemption of mankind through the ‘seed of woman’ who will crush the devil’s head. Adam and Eve ‘heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden’ and the Hebrew words used to state actually means that it was the voice of God that was heard all over, for God would not get into the presence of a sinner (Genesis 3:15 & 8).
Thereafter till the coming of Lord Jesus, it was always, ‘The word of the LORD came’ and that too, to a specific person alone. The state of people was revealed by Lord Jesus that ‘seeing they do not see, hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand’ (Matthew 13:13). God being a spirit will not communicate to a body but only to the spirit within that body. Lord Jesus told the Samaritan woman this same fact, ‘God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth’, where the first word Spirit for God is with a capital letter while the second one for the worshipper is a small ‘s’ denoting the individual spirit (John 4:24). God ‘has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ’ and the spirit of man can access all of these blessings from the heavenly places but since the communication pyramid of man is reversed these do not get transferred to the soul and then to the body (Ephesians 1:3).
Apostle John prayed for and blessed the believers, ‘that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers’ (3 John 1:2). The soul also must prosper for the physical realm in the body to enjoy good health and other things. Apostle Paul tells us that God ‘subjected the creation to futility’ to enable us to understand that our purpose and worth are not going to be found in things and other people but only in God (Romans 8:20). In the Garden of Eden the worth of Adam and Eve can be judged from all that God created for them before creating them, for they lacked nothing. Even after the fall God did not consider them unworthy or not good enough but called out to them. We join His family through faith in His Son and He had decided this ‘before anything came into being’ but we try to please God through our good works that He would then listen to us. This creates a perpetual self grading system within us and instead of rejoicing in God’s blessings in the spirit, we keep using our physical works to reach out to Him and fail.
How can we establish the right relationship with God? – God commands, ‘Come now, and let us reason together’ to makes mankind understand His ways but this is one place we do not attempt to enter all our lives but avoid it altogether for fear of judgement (Isaiah 1:18). We have the deepest desire to know God and to be fully known but like Adam and Eve we want to cover ourselves with those leaves and hide from Him. King David is presumed to have written accepting the Sovereignty of God who knows everything about us and all our ways and thoughts are open before Him (Psalm 139:1-2 & 23-24). But we are utterly afraid of being known and to know and though we want to ask Him questions about life but not about experiencing what it means to be in His presence, the awe that prophet Isaiah felt in God’s presence (Isaiah 6:1-8). David cried out to God, ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxieties’ (Psalm 139:23). In a perfect world we would realize the reality of God fully for He loves us just the way we are and we need not hide from Him.
Late Dr R. C. Sproul once said, ‘The issue of faith is not so much whether we believe in God, but whether we believe the God we believe in’. Right from childhood we want to please others and this forces us to look for ways to please God and we forget that God is love. Since we are used to darkness within and without, hiding so much from each other that we do not realize that ‘God is light and in Him is no darkness at all’ (1John 1:5). Nothing is hidden from Him and He has revealed all about Himself in His Son the Living Word. God does not compare me to someone else to grade me but His evaluation of me is on what He has done in the performance of Lord Jesus on the cross. The Savior as our Advocate declares to the Father, ‘He is mine’ and the Father simply accepts. God judges me on the basis of what I do with His Son, accept Him or reject Him, follow Him or turn away from Him.
The Great ‘I Am’ has settled the case of my identity in the past not in the future for my self-worth is in His Son, my Savior. God is not waiting for me to prove myself worthy enough to be saved but has settled it through His undeserved grace. it is already done and settled ‘before anything came into being’ (Ephesians 1:4). The Cross of Calvary leaves nothing for me to do but it is all up to me only, to reach out and embrace His blessings or not for in God’s eyes I am valuable enough to die for. But the world sees my worth in my future for a child is often asked, ‘What do you want to be?’ My worth is assessed in my next accomplishment and we are constantly evaluating, the church we are in, our friends and acquaintances and even God.
The first thing we have to do is to be in the present in light of the past and look into the future with great hope and assurance of entering the ‘joy of our Master’ and be prepared to occupy the ‘place He has prepared for us in His (and our) Father’s house in heaven. You do not have to prove to be ‘worthy enough’ for God and accept in faith what God has already done. We must realize our immense value in the eyes of God and we do that be accepting the facts. First, You are important to God for He made the highest sacrifice possible to receive you back in Him; second, God does not see you or me but looks at His Son in us and that settles our value for Him; third, the lies of others do not matter before the truth of His love for you and you must let go of those hurtful words thrown at us by others due to envy, vengeance or simple hatred for everyone and everything. You must leave this cloak of self created darkness due to others actions but run into the open arms and beautiful light of Lord Jesus who loves me. The hurts from others are real but so is His love; four, realize that I am here to glorify God and rejoice in His love for my worth is in my relationship with Him.
Being not good enough or to strive to please Him is a spiritual disease for which the Great Physician has already provided the cure through the shed blood of His Son. Lord Jesus provided the answer, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 18:3). A child never cares about his dirt and the cleanliness of the father’s clothes but jumps into his lap with abandon. He/she sees her worth in the father and none else and rejoices in that love of the parent. Scripture affirms this fact that, ‘I cried to the LORD with my voice and He heard me from His holy hill’ (Psalm 3:4, 18:6, 34:4, 120:1). God is always calling out to us, ‘Where are you?’ while knowing full well why we are hiding (Genesis 3:9) and when we do not call out to Him, He comes ‘knocking on the door’ of our hearts to share His blessings and meal with us (Revelation 3:20). We have to just reach out and wait in thankfulness for His to catch us.
Walking in the will of God – I must evaluate the changes that have happened in my life after I accepted Lord Jesus as my Savior and how do I plan, organize and execute decisions. Surprisingly we never think that some changes should have been made in this. We are trained for process thinking to gather information, sort out options, make plans considering risks, decide on goals and make step-by-step tactics. This leads me to independence without requiring moment by moment guidance and I assume that I can control the situations in my world. But plans do not go as we plan and world reminds me that I am not in control. The correct operating procedure from God’s viewpoint is different. He is not interested in my plans but more in ‘my attention to His plans’ and He never reveals more than what is required. Abram was told to go to ‘a land that I will show you’ and was promised great rewards but the destination was not revealed (Genesis 12:1-3).
Dr. Skip Moen, a great theologian says that God’s operating procedure is based on regular consultation which brings in dependence and guidance at every step. It would appear to be like – Stop- Wait – Listen – Act and consultation always requires that I remain connected to my guiding source and this is based on obedience of God’s revealed truth of the present. Before consultation God gives an assignment which gives direction leading to consultation which must be full of obedience. Gideon called an army but God gave victory with only 300 men (Judges 7); Apostle Paul and his companions stopped from going into Asia by the Holy Spirit (Acts 16:6). God desires moment by moment obedience not long term strategies, for this leads to dependence and devotion, the two most cherished characteristics in man. This removes the thought that God needs me to do His will on earth, He can manage without me and is able to ‘do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can imagine’ (Ephesians 3:20). But He desires to include me in His plans and I must ask Him every day, ‘What would You like me to do, Lord?’
Communication with God is not about telling Him what I want but to do but to listen to what He desires from my life and how can I glorify Him in my life. I must accept that God is in control; listen and respond to Him; depend on Him for direction and obediently follow Him. I must do this continuously and only then will I really be the ‘salt of the earth’ for God to do His will on the earth. Unless I Stop I will never be able to listen to the voice of guidance from God for He does not shout but speaks with ‘a still small voice’ for He wants our complete attention (1 Kings 19:11-13). And then too I must look with loving attention and full moral responsibility. Lord Jesus spent hours alone listening to the Father’s voice unless He was fully sensitive to that voice. He could then declare that the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do’ (John 5:19). The Son of God was fully dependent on God the Father. The Greek word ‘epignosis’, used in Scripture, means precise and intimate personal knowledge and this defines Our Savior Lord’s operating procedure and this trait is a gift of God.
God blessed us with the Holy Spirit to be in us so that we could listen to His voice and carry on the consultation process with Him always. But like Eve we want to use the knowledge gained through our bodies to be our guiding light rather than God. The Israelites made the mistake of looking around than remain focused on God and started following their practices to finally lose contact with their God while the gods they were chasing were in any case nothing. The whispering voices of evil will continue to bombard us with temptations but we must Stop – Wait – Listen and then Act and continue this consultation process with God always. This appears to be rather difficult when we face extreme diversities in our lives.
Job lost everything and then was afflicted with boils all over his body and his wife advised him to ‘curse God and die’ (Job 2:9). But the Hebrew word ‘barak’ used here is translated as ‘curse’ where in actuality it means ‘to kneel, bless’ implying that she taunted Job, who had always kneeled before God and worshipped Him. Job’s response is an eye-opener, ‘Shall we indeed accept good from God, and not accept adversity?’ (Job 2:10). During difficult times many come and tell us to wake up to reality that God does not listen and even the state of our faith is questioned, ‘May be if you believe fully’ and many give up on life. Job’s book is easy for those who read the first two chapters and then go on to the last three but until our faith is challenged by the unthinkable, how can we know God fully, until we stand alone, destroyed by a God who loves us. We are told that the reason for salvation is happiness here and salvation later but that is the genie that we have created who dances to our tunes to do our will. Real God is not this and He demands that we pray, ‘Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ and then live that.
If the rain falls on the just and the unjust, so do hail storms. When He favors us we rejoice but when He chooses not to bless us, we are still required to rejoice and give thanks and the God that loves us will then listen also and respond also. Job suffered loss of everything and even when alone he never let go of the love of God and finally God Himself came down to reason with him and bless him with double of everything that he had. Moses had that two way communication with God for He revered Him as Sovereign and surrendered to His authority. God is ever willing to listen to us but are we also willing to listen to Him?