Monday, December 1, 2008

Relationships in God's Context

I believe that God spoke to me a single word phrase earlier this year and that was 'Relationship.' I have been unsure why, but God is working me through relationships. I guess I am discovering that everything is relationships. Everything!

For one, keeping my sanity in check is based on relationships; community. These guys really came to my rescue. Any other time, I would have really been concerned because of finance (can I afford this), scarcity (will I be able to make it to, and keep, my job!), and throwing off my schedule (I feel loss because I can't work out and stick to my regiment; sense of identity.) 

However, with a group of friends and community around, scarcity and fear leave. With quality relationships, love is present which chases out all fear. (And scarcity is a type of fear; fear of not being able to provide for oneself.)

With relationships, there is a confidence that, even if the worst happened and one lost their job, the community would help that person return to work (dignity, and being a contributing member of that community would return.)

The same is true in investments. Watching my mentor invest with his partners has taught me that it all boils down to “who” you are dealing with. Do these people have integrity? Whether or not you understand the investment, are they people of character? Can they win with integrity? Can they fail with integrity

That reduces risk more than anything! Also, just to have someone even offer an investment takes quality relationships. People have to be around to offer anything!

That brings me to an even more basic spiritual principle. Faith, religion, purpose, meaning; anything a 'spiritual' person is seeking is accomplished through relationship, relationship with Him.

Meaning, when I was always praying and focusing on God for hours every day, I never had a worry or concern about my provision. I never felt scarcity. I always had the right deals come my way. 

Now that I am running to and from a job 40 hours a week, balancing client work, fitting in workouts and making meals, doing my big-picture planning, and then, somewhere once in a while, have a prayer time, I always feel scarcity. I always feel concern about providing for myself. I start to question where I am at being 29. I start to question if I am in the right place at the right time.

These were never concerns for me when I have pressed into the presence of God, seeking intimacy, RELATIONSHIP, with Him.

So, relationship is where I return. I have had a huge personal revelation of the desperate need I have for Him. The desperate need I have for God. So, I return to Him. I have not been avoiding Him; I have only been too busy pursuing life that I have missed Life.

I used to say that I could go longer without food and water than the presence of God. It used to be an inflamatory statement, exaggerated to perk people's perception.

Now, I say it with all sincerity, and I will elaborate.

I can go longer without food, water, ego needs being met, females, work, purpose, or working on projects than without the Presence of God, than I can without Relationship, Intimacy, with Him and His people.

None of those other things makes sense any more outside of His context for me. You see, I have gone long enough pursuing God that He has taken me to strange, new places. Like the shepherd boy in The Alchemist, I have been brought to a new place where I know nothing but Him. Right now, all of my relationships were divinely ordained. Right now, my work was divinely ordained.

Being divinely ordained, they do not really make sense to me on where they came from, where they are going, and the purposes behind them. At least, they do not make sense outside of the context of a Living Relationship with Him

Were I to wake up without a sense of God's context here, I would be so petrified with fear, so outside of my comfort zone, so distraught not knowing the purposes behind it all, that I would fold up camp and run home to Vero Beach where at least SOMETHING makes sense. I can formulate my own identity and meet my social needs there. 

Out here where nothing makes sense to my natural mind, I would panic. “How did I get here?” “If I didn't make all of this happen, how can I sustain it?” “If I didn't make all this happen, what if I can't maintain what I see around me?” And I realize I can't!

But, knowing that He brought me here to Lakeland, knowing that He had me run into Chad at Panera two years ago, knowing that He gave me that prosperous job and took it away, KNOWING THAT HE LED ME HERE, I can stay bold, confident and sane in each moment. I face all of these things and can honestly say, 'God, you MUST take care of this. I am fully incapable.'

The same is true for me with so many other social expectations of people my age. My career, my education, my financial status; all have been led by God for almost 7 years. Were I to reject God, my context would shift to what the world expects of me, and I would be most pathetic! Fear, scarcity (women won't want me, jobs won't want me) and lack would creep in. What a cold, grey, damp world!

However, reaffirming myself that following God prayerfully has led me here, bumps and bruises and all, the whole of it is different. Inside of the God context after these last years, I look at what He expects of me. I disregard what women would think, what jobs would think, what anybody would think. I look to what He has promised.

Simply put, I am too far along that I cannot turn back (meaning I cannot start measuring myself by any standard other than His context, a relationship with Him). That would be certain mental and physical suicide. To measure myself by the world standards would ensure my doom. To measure myself by God's standards would place me on a pedestal so high as to not be able to even identify what the world thinks when they look.

And that brings boldness. That brings confidence. That brings certainty and peace to my spirit. 

A broken down car that needs repairs is simply a test
 to root out where I get my identity. 
A busy schedule is simply a test
 to push me to insisting on fellowship with Him. 
A dead-end moment where nothing makes sense
 simply forces me closer to Him to get insight and direction.

My entire life is engineered for success in the Lord! It must be, for, I am fully confident that were the Spirit of God to be removed from me, I would drop dead instantly. This far along, He is my sustaining force, He is my context, and in any other context I would be nothing.

In His context, I am everything.


Jillian said...

I am always encouraged to hear about what's going on in your world/mind/spirit. You are a very special guy.
Thanks for sharing G-rant.
phileo - Jill

C.J. said...

Hey, man - I definitely relate to where you're at and where you're coming from. I can remember times in my life when I was there. When a bad day, week, month, or even year didn't seem to bother me, because God was sustaining me. God is still sustaining me, but a little bit differently. It used to be that He would use the Bible, or direct prayer time. But instead of His Word (directly reading the Bible) or quiet time with Him and His still small voice in my head (even though that is there too), He sustains me through outside means - Nicole, you, Dad, and Heath. He reminds me where my paychecks come from - Him. You are definitely right that without Him, without relationship, life is meaningless and dead.

A few months, almost a year, ago I was on a hike with two of my friends, and one of them posed the question: What is the meaning of life? This is such a cliche question, almost, but you could hear the sincerity in her voice - the question. It is a question that, in my opinion, doesn't have a linguistic equivalent to the deeper meaning and feeling of the question. Anyway, almost without hesitation, I said, "The meaning of life is relationships."

She looked at me quizzically, so I continued, "It begins with the very most basic and necessary relationship: the one with God." And I went on to remind her that the whole purpose God created us was because He was lonely. He was (and still is) seeking relationship - companionship. And He created us so we would produce more of ourselves. And if you look at the basic principles of what Jesus' ministry was all about - restoring relationships: with each other and with God. There is nothing of meaning outside of relationships. What is the purpose of a job and a paycheck if not to pay for the rof over our heads that allows us to have relationships in an environment we need to feel healthy, relaxed, and secure (you can't be in a god relationship if you are stressed out all the time).

I don't all honesty, I could probably rant for a little while more, but Nicole and I are still unpacking and trying to drive her to what will be her new base (an hour away). So, I should help her make us lunch.

But, I love you. I miss you. And don't forget that you are always welcome to come up and visit. If you need anything, give a call.

Love you, Bro,