How do you respond best? With an invitation or a demand? With gentleness or harshness? With a hand held out to you or a command? Given our God-given freedom to do whatever we want, our free-will, let’s look at what works for you and me to draw close to God. Now, I am talking about going way beyond belief in God, beyond going to church every Sunday, beyond being a “good” person, beyond helping the poor. I am talking about nothing less than giving your whole life and the decisions you make over to God who created you. Some call it surrender or being “born again;” no matter what you call it, it is a distinct departure from living out our culture’s paradigm.
Surrender is a good first step towards a deep relationship with God, but it also requires thousands of more steps along the Way, saying “yes” to ceding our expectations, desires, the way we think, the hurt we experience, the walls we have built between us and life, between us and God. I am talking about our own will here, how we can hide things from God for a lifetime, things too hurtful to touch or let go of, grief unexpressed, disappointments, outrage silenced—all the things within us that keep us from yielding all that we are to God. Sometimes the things that keep us back from a complete relationship with God are the good things: the church’s teachings, the things we learned about God as a child, our desire for this good period in our lives to last, etc. Sometimes it is our anger at God or at the way our lives have been that keep us silent before the Spirit. Sometimes it is our own complacency, a desire not to rock the boat. And it can be our desire to control our lives and not deal with the unknown, the unknowable.
Most of these things are unconscious in us which is why it is so important that we know who we are and what we are about. It is so easy to assume we are good, that we’re doing all we can for God, but often we are only fooling ourselves. We only see what we want to see. If we are truly children of God, we will make such a habit of saying “yes!” to whatever God asks to do, that it no longer occurs to us to say “no!” This means we are totally aligned with God’s will for us. There is no difference between what God wants for us and what we want, because we know from our experience that God’s will is always the very best for us.
So how do you experience God’s call to you? Is it gentle? Is it a whisper? Is it insistent? Do you hear it? Do you fear that God is going to take away from you what you love most? Is your image of God a punitive one? Or a loving one? Does God whisper sweet things to you? Love you? Or is God demanding of you?
Are you running from God? Or running to God? Do you trust in God? How do your ideas of God limit or enhance who you are? Are you willing to let God teach you who God is? Or will you cling to your own version? These questions are important, vital even, if we are to draw even closer to God. We have to give permission for God to enter fully into our lives. When we give that consent daily, when we align our will with God’s will daily, then we have invited God into our lives in a meaningful way. We enter into an adventure where God shows us the best for us. Time and again it is affirmed for us that God has our best interest at heart. We see the affirmations in the grace we experience, the deep satisfaction that our life brings to us, the joy of being connected to the Source, peace within us, a growing ability to love and more. These are the benefits of living a life centered in God. Are you up for it?