How Do the People You Hang Out With Influence Your Thinking?

Who are the 5 people you hang out with the most? Do they encourage you? Do they tell you what you need to hear, not just what strokes your ego or helps justify your feelings? Do they challenge you to grow? Even when you disagree, do they stand firm in their convictions? Are they loyal to you even when it’s not easy being your friend? Do they help strengthen you when you’re stressed?

Rohn quote

Sure, we ultimately make our own decisions, but the more time you spend with someone, the more their impact on your thinking. For good and for bad, the people you spend time with influence you. Do you find this to be true?

But because we can’t, nor should we, eliminate all interaction with negative people or those who disagree with us, we must instead seek to deliberately choose what we allow to impact our thinking. Certainly, this involves the actual amount of time spent with someone. But how much does it also involve the depth to which you are vulnerable & transparent?

For example, you can spend time with negative, gossipy coworkers but refuse to let them influence your thinking by counteracting their influence through the other people you spend time with, the books you read, the movies and TV shows you watch, and even the music you listen to both during and outside of work.

Bob Sorge, in the final chapter of The Fire of Delayed Answers, brings Biblical application to this concept using Psalm 1:1-4.

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither — whatever they do prospers.

The Psalm doesn’t say we can or should avoid ungodly values, morals and attitudes altogether, but it does tell us we can choose not to walk, stand and sit with those living them. We can avoid much ungodly impact simply by how and where we choose to position ourselves. Failing to do so results in a gradual giving of ourselves to sin. Sorge expresses the idea this way:

“The sequence of “walks,” “stands,” and “sits” describes progressive entrapment in sin. The temptation of sin is to walk by, then to stand and hang out, and finally to sit down in it.”

Truth is, we will be tempted in these ways regularly. No practical way to avoid them. Influence comes at us constantly and in uncountable ways, but we can choose where to dwell and what we allow to dwell within us.

Let’s apply this concept to our virtual relationships. Who do you hang out with the most in forums or on social networking sites? Who do you walk, stand and sit with on a regular basis via text, email, blog reading/commenting, etc.?

For the month of April, Struggle to Victory will focus on my virtual influences by featuring guest posts, by guest posting on other sites, and by highlighting some of the regular visitors to this blog. Hopefully, you’ll be encouraged, strengthened & challenged by these people as much as I have on a regular basis, people I am proud to say have an impact on my thinking in ways that matter eternally.

DISCUSSION: Are you the average of the 5 people you spend time with, virtually or otherwise? How can you apply Psalm 1 when we have as much, if not more, bad influence coming at us as good?

Confidence and Trust in Relationships

ConfidenceConsistency & Trust

The more consistent a person’s attitude, actions and words, the higher level of trust and confidence I have in that relationships. When I know someone will dependably show solid character, my stress level goes down and trust goes up.

For example, I trust my steady husband more than any other person. My oldest son and a couple of my friends tie for second. Whatever these people are involved with in my life holds a great deal less stress because of their consistent character.

Of course, the reverse also holds true. The less consistent character, the lower the trust and the higher the stress. Unfortunately, several people in my life fall into various places along the spectrum of decreasing trust and increasing stress because of a lack of consistent dependability.

Of course, all of those relationships involve imperfect people that to some extent are unreliable and inconsistent. With God, though, the picture completely changes because perfection exists in a person that never, ever fails me.

PChrist the sameerfection Changes Everything

Whenever I understand more about who God is as He reveals Himself through His Holy Spirit — that He is my Lord and my God, that He is Holy and that He is my Savior — my confidence in Him automatically increases.

“I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” (Isaiah 43:1-3)

The better I know Him and His ways, the more I trust Him. Bob Sorge in The Fire of Delayed Answers focuses on this idea in Chapter 14. He expresses the truth this way:

“Confidence happens when we come to understand God and His ways. When we really get to know God, confidence is automatic. If we truly come to know Him, we’ll be confident that He will be true to His person.”

Because God is who He is, I can have perfect confidence in Him. Yet, because I am who I am, I don’t.

Scripture like Isaiah 43:1-3 serve to remind me that my imperfection doesn’t limit Him. As Sorge says,

“Confidence says, ‘I know He’s working on my behalf for good.”’

And I can know this because He has done it before in my life and in the lives of countless others, and because Scripture assures me that’s who He is. That’s His character.

Confidence through StruggleFather does not change

Let’s go back to the “fire” and “rivers” in Isaiah 43:1-3 for a minute and apply how understanding and knowing God leads to automatic confidence in Him to work in my — and your — life for good today.

What would you list as your “fire” and “rivers” right now? In other words, what are the main sources of struggle and stress in your life? (Yes, you can name a specific person… I did.)

For each of the “fire” and “rivers” you listed, tell God you trust Him with them. Think of all He’s done for you and of what Scriptures says of His ways and who He is, and let this knowledge strengthen your confidence in Him to bring you through your current struggles. He did it before, and He’ll do it again because that’s who He is.

Other posts on trust:

Getting to the Root Cause of Stress

398165_2008If you were to take the time to map out all the reasons for stress in your life, you’ll likely discover one main root cause. Yes, stress really is that simple.

What is the root cause? Fear. If we’re brutally honest with ourselves, we’ll realize that when we’re overwhelmed by stressed, we’re really acting in fear.

Fear of failure, Fear of letting others down. Fear of being let down. Fear of sickness and death. Fear of being controlled. Fear of not having enough money. Fear of kids rebelling or getting hurt or failing or embarrassing you. Fear of missing opportunities. Fear of making wrong choices. Fear of loneliness. Fear of mediocrity.

Oh wait, those are MY fears. Those are what cause MY stress. But maybe you can relate?

Unable to Wait

1078872_44288931As I thought more about the fears causing my stress, I realized at the heart is my inability to control people and events. And nowhere is this reality more evident than in my inability to wait for God.

Bob Sorge in The Fire of Delayed Answers says there are three temptations that derail believers trying to wait for God to speak into their lives.

  1. The temptation to demand and immediate answer.
  2. The temptation to give up.
  3. The temptation to just “do something.”

When I think about the times I’ve given into these temptations, I realize they happen because I believe one of my fears is about to be realized. And in my refusal to wait, I’m usually just trying to save myself from that fear. At the same time, I’m allowing my feelings to control my decisions as well as rationalizing and justifying why I can stop the waiting.

The odd thing is that when I give in to these temptations, when I let fear get the best of me, I end up increasing my stress and allowing fear to gain more of a foothold.

How to Finally Overcome Stress

No fear in loveOne of the best stress relievers and probably one of the least pursued is quietness. We sometimes make stellar attempts at quietness on vacations only to return to chaotic lives. While times away have their place and value, it’s really a habit of quietness that addresses fears and derails stress.

As Sorge notes, we have to remember three important points about quietness. It’s does not mean silence, it’s not instant, and it’s easily lost. Quietness must become a habit in order for it to truly alleviate stress.

My own journey to a less stressful life reflects the truth of what Sorge says about quietness. In fact, as I learn to practice quietness, my fears lessen, which in turn reduces stress. Sure, life continues to generate stressful situations and seasons, but they are no longer flavored with fear.

Instead, I am experiencing “perfect love that casts out fear” (1 John 4:18) by seeking Him through:

  1. Reading Scripture: Simply reading the Word of God and letting it live and breathe within me on a regular basis.
  2. Praying Often: A regular conversation with my Creator transforms stress and overload into times of experiencing Him more.
  3. Seeking Input: Godly influence of those who’ve been where you are and are where you want to be is invaluable.
  4. Pursuing Health: Being physically healthy makes a tremendous difference in not letting fears take control.
  5. Simplifying: The simpler the life, the more likely quietness becomes a transformational habit.

As quietness increases and fears subside, as stress no longer rules and reigns, my inner atmosphere increases in peaceful consistency and reliability. And as this happens, I’m experiencing a transformation that only God could orchestrate.

DISCUSSION: How does fear impact your stress level? What are you doing to overcome that fear?

Join the Book club discussing Fire of Delayed Answers by Bob Sorge by leaving a comment below. You can also read more reflections on this book from Jason, Sarah, Dusty, TC, Glynn, and Joell.

GUEST POST INVITATION: For the month of April, my focus will be on guest posting. This will include some of my own guest posts, promotion of other’s blogs and guest post featured on Struggle to Victory. If you are interested in either writing a post for this blog or having me write a post for your blog, please contact me via email. There are still several slots available on the calendar.

Refined by Waiting

Christian Powerpoint Religious BulletinFour years ago, I crashed and burned physically, mentally and spiritually, I couldn’t work, and I barely functioned at home. Socially, I ceased to exist. Spiritually, only getting by.

A big part of my crash and burn involved adrenal fatigue. Essentially, healing from adrenal fatigue requires a lot of waiting. My body, mind and spirit needed replenished after years of stress, continual drain and constant overload. Only waiting and resting could make that happen.

Life as a whole involves a lot of waiting, small and big pockets of time spent waiting for what’s next.  All too often, I try ending the waiting on my own by forcing “things” to happen. Never works out all that well.

Who likes to wait, after all? Not me! Yet, so much of our lives require waiting. Lines. Arrivals. Departures. Growth. Maturity.

Since life involves so much waiting, we’re all experts, right? Again, not me. Just put another car in front of me going a bit slower than I want to go to illustrate how easily I get frustrated with waiting, with life moving slower than I think it should. Can you relate?

Focused WaitingGod-Or-My-Agenda

Bob Sorge in The Fire of Delayed Answers calls waiting “the hottest flame” because it reveals the depths of our hearts. He also notes that God “is capable of applying as much heat as it takes to surface the garbage in our hearts.”

Garbage? The arrogance that makes me need to get ahead of others in line. The pride that refuses to admit mistakes. The lack of peace that leads me to force immediate answers rather than waiting for well-thought out responses.

Sometimes, pure selfishness fuels my inability to wait. But equally, and perhaps even more so, I simply give up on the waiting. I give up on God’s way and pursue life on my own terms.

Depth takes time to develop. This is true of one’s character as much as it is of one’s relationships. God wants to develop that depth, and He knows that waiting is often the best tool for making that happen.

A focus on Him in our waiting reveals opportunities from Him to cultivate depth. A focus on Him in our waiting leads us to pray for the mother of four in front of us at the checkout counter and to spend time with Him in prayer and Bible study as we allow our bodies the physical rest needed to recover from stress overload.

But a focus on the waiting itself and how much we dislike it turns our gaze toward pushing ahead and ending the wait, which causes us to miss out on God’s refining of our character. Instead of pushing and forcing and moving to get rid of the waiting, consider what Sorge says about how to wait.

“Run after Him with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. Waiting is aggressive repose. Waiting is a stationary pursuit. Waiting is intense stillness. Waiting is vigilant listening.”

Be someone willing to wait for God, no matter the length of time. Be willing to give Him both your small moments and your seasons of waiting. Be aggressive in your rest, extreme in your stillness and vigilant as you listen for Him.

DISCUSSION: What does waiting for God mean in a practical sense? How do we live life and wait for God at the same time? Also, how does our ability to wait on God impact our relationships?

This post is a part of a weekly book discussion of The Fire of Delayed Answers by Bob Sorge hosted by Jason Stasyszen of Connecting to Impact and Sarah Salter of Living Between the Lines. Be sure to check out their posts!

Balancing Quietness & Confidence

scaleTwo Sided Struggle

There are those who seem to live in constant struggle. They’re confident of the coming victory God has in store for them, so they keep fighting, pushing and struggling toward it. There are others who quietly wait  for God to move. They surrender themselves fully to His will and purpose for their lives, seeming to continually wait in quietness and trust.

As I survey my life, I see both quietness and confidence existing. Usually though, I live in one or the other. But I am realizing that I can both live in confidence of the victory Christ has won and at the same time be journeying to full surrender.

Bob Sorge in The Fire of Delayed Answers expresses this idea as he questions those who seem to exist at both extremes. He explains that there are those who stress that “God is more interested in your character than in your miracle” and at the same time others who say, “He’s my Savior, my healer, my deliverer, my provider, my protector, my supply, my, my, my…. [producing] a self-absorbed focus.”

Instead, Sorge says, both can exist together, that we can “become more Christlike in our attitudes and also experience the power of His resurrection.”

Surviving Times of War

The development and also true test of this balance comes both through the trials we experience as we live out life this side of Heaven and the more severe times of testing through crisis. Sorge expresses the sentiment this way…

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Times of war are the proving ground for faith. In My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers deepens this idea of our faith being proven in battle along with truly understanding that our battle is ultimately our own. Chambers says…

Chambers

War and Relationships

Our goal is to live lives that remain true to God’s character no matter what. And since the majority of our struggles and victories involve other people, relationships provide the ultimate proving ground for our faith.

Yes, our quiet confidence comes from our individual relationship with God. And yes, we are responsible for our own activity and not that of anyone else. Yet, at the same time, we struggle together even while we struggle alone. We gain victory together while we gain individual victory.

Because relationship play such an integral role in our faith walk, we’re detailing in on relationships during the month of February. To begin, let’s discuss how finding an individual balance with quietness and confidence help strengthen relationships. Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

This post is a part of a weekly book discussion of The Fire of Delayed Answers by Bob Sorge hosted by Jason Stasyszen of Connecting to Impact and Sarah Salter of Living Between the Lines. Be sure to check out their posts!

Check Your Source

sf_overflow_03As a newspaper writer years ago, the source meant everything. In fact, editors insisted on at least three solid sources per article. Why? Because the sources determined the validity and impact of the words written.

When I taught writing and speech classes years later, I also stressed the importance of solid sources for conveying and supporting ideas. In fact, we spent a great deal of time determining how to identify credible sources.

The fact remains that the credibility of our words play a large role in our overall reputation. That holds true for individuals as much as is does in the media.

Considering the source makes all the difference in how the words of a person, whether writing or speaking, are received, accepted, believed and followed.

Careless words ruin a person’s credibility, certainly for the short-term. But the longer they precede a person and mark their presence, the more long-term, negative impact careless words have on a person’s reputation.

All About the Supply

Careless words usually indicate carelessness in some area of a person’s inner life, often symptomatic of a much bigger problem. Our words and actions indicate the condition of the heart and, when careless or unloving, usually point to an unbalanced state in some aspect of the inner self. And the more a habit of careless words receives room to roam, the greater the storm’s rage and the more numerous the careless words.

The only way to calm this storm is addressing the root cause. This means considering the source, the supply, of what’s coming out of a person’s mouth.

Begin the process by asking some tough but necessary questions. Does your source of supply – your automatic way of dealing with life – come in the form of acting, moving, talking and pushing? Is this your “go to” pace for life? If it is, consider how Isaiah 30:15 may have a much needed solution for calming every aspect of life from our schedule to the words we speak by bringing us to a stable source or supply on a consistent basis.

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The flow of careless words decreases and may even stop altogether when we quit trying to make things happen, for example when we try to talk people into things or attempt to justify our choices. More time spent in rest and quietness, as Jesus made a point to do regularly (Mark 1:35), reduces the number of unnecessary words by focusing us on the only source that can tame the tongue.

Bob Sorge in Chapter 10 of The Fire of Delayed Answers breaks Isaiah 30:15 down this way:

Sorge 1

When we’re out of control and not letting God direct our lives, not setting Him as our source of supply for all of our words, thoughts, attitudes and actions (Psalm 19:14 & James 1:26), we lose the ability to glorify Him. Our lives simply appear chaotic, holding nothing beneficial for others to desire to pursue.

Often, the root cause of our careless lives, which often becomes first apparent in the words we speak, involves failing to heed Isaiah’s advice. The more we purpose to implement these elements into our lives and allow God to be the source of all that we are, the more we’ll realize the value of returning to God, in resting in the quietness of His presence and in having confidence for Him to renew us.

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DISCUSSION: How can you purposely apply the advice of Isaiah? How will doing so change the words you use?

This post is a part of a weekly book discussion of The Fire of Delayed Answers by Bob Sorge hosted by Jason Stasyszen of Connecting to Impact and Sarah Salter of Living Between the Lines. Be sure to check out their posts!

Heart Enlargement

enlarged heartWilderness times. Dry seasons. Physical affliction. Betrayal. Spiritual pride. Divine delays.

Struggles with flesh, struggles with temptation, affliction, tribulation and hassles. Tests from enemies and tests from friends. Some decisions — too many — made without consulting God.

While the details in my life’s story likely look very different than yours, they also probably hold many similarities.

Struggling toward maturity in Christ and a desperate dependence where prayer lives as a necessity, or as Bob Sorge calls it in The Fire of Delayed Answers, “a matter of sheer survival.”

Times of testing for purity. Times of delayed healing.

Times when these sobering truths, stated so succinctly by Sorge, knock the breath out of me:

“It is possible to remain loyal in our love for the Lord
but still miss His highest purpose for our life.”

“We can love the Lord sincerely but fall short of His highest purposes
by not consulting with Him in our decision making.”

“It’s possible to be sincere, have good intentions, with a heart to please God,
and be disqualified from God’s best for our lives.”

Realizing that even in my loyalty, I missed God’s highest purpose. Even in my sincerity, I fell short by failing to consult Him. Even with a desire to please Him, I lost achievement of His best.

Painful truths, to be sure, but necessary lessons in order for maturity and desperate dependence to grow. Agonizing delays waiting for stewardship ability. And embarrassing failure in the process of learning complete reliance.

“Enlarged” does not fully describe my heart, but “being enlarged” does. At times, the reality of an enlarged heart peeks through, but it quickly slips away as my focus goes to the cares of the world, to the struggle instead of to the victory.

Sorge says that an “enlarged heart”:

  • Is a heart expanded by God to carry the concerns of others.
  • Has a passion for reaching beyond the concerns and issues that affect our own personal life to embrace the needs of others.
  • Has a heart for the world.
  • Is a heart beating with the passions and concerns of God Himself.
  • Is given greater capacity to channel God’s love to others.
  • Finds its interests much broader than the confines of its own ministry involvement.
  • Freely delights in seeing blessings of God abound elsewhere.
  • Is free of jealousy, competition, and comparison.

Knowing the goal helps. Understanding what an enlarged heart looks like shows me the path God is creating in the wilderness and the refreshing streams He’s creating in the dessert (Isaiah 43:18-19).

As God continues enlarging my heart through trauma, crisis, troubles and even calls for radical obedience, the truth that this work comes from Him and through no effort on my part becomes increasingly real. The value of perseverance, patience and love in the midst of this pressure draws me closer to Him, pulling me to a new spiritual plane where weeping and tears along with tastes of divine pleasure flow from an enlarged heart that is also still being enlarged.

DISCUSSION: How is your heart both enlarged and being enlarged?

Weak is the New Strong

Strength 2

Strength 1srength 1

Be Strong

Strength comes from the individual and is what you make it. Strong exists as the current beauty ideal. After all, “Strong is the new skinny,” and I need to let everyone to know that I am “Pretty Strong. Pretty Fast.” (I’m not, by the way, strong or fast but especially not fast.) Strong is how you want to be viewed; it’s your reputation’s goal.

Every corner of culture – television, magazines, fitness and even education – touts the necessity to “Be Strong.” In fact, being strong exists as the best path to success for self and to elimination of the competition.

strength scripture

Strength through Weakness

God’s view of being strong means bringing Him joy, depending on Him for strength and realizing that He IS strength. Strength comes through weaknesses as we allow His power to flow, not by focusing on destroying weaknesses through our own creation of inner strength.

In “Created to be God’s Friend,” Henry Blackaby says, “The provision for our obedience is always provided for us by God. Ours is to obey; it is for God to provide! What we in our weakness and limitations cannot provide, God in His infinite grace does provide.”

Even though we try to convince ourselves otherwise, we DO have limitations. We ARE weak. No matter how much strength we manage to muster, our weaknesses eventually show themselves and leave us naked and spent for all to see. And that’s the place where we realize that weak really is the new strong.

In “The Fire of Delayed Answers,” Bob Sorge says, “We don’t really know what it’s like for God to be the strength of our heart until our heart and flesh have failed.”

Have you reached that point? Do you know what having your heart and flesh fail feels like? Because if you do, then you know the life-changing impact of God’s power flowing fully through you. You know that as your own strength flows out through your weaknesses, God’s strength flows in through that same portal.

The only way to truly reach the point of God’s strength flowing through our weaknesses is through brokenness and through trusting God in that brokenness to give us strength for the day. It is at that point that weakness actually becomes the new strong.

Welcome to the book club discussion of The Fire of Delayed Answers by Bob Sorge. Each blogger in the group is reading and then sharing on what inspires, encourages, or challenges them. We are taking 2 weeks per chapter and are currently on Chapter 8. Our co-facilitators are Jason and Sarah – other participants include DustyGlynn, Joell, Rick, and TC.

Victory through Affliction

AFFLICTIONIn Chapter 7 of The Fire of Delayed Answers, Bob Sorge points out the many ways God uses affliction in our lives.

He uses them to refine and correct us, to motivate us to know Him more, and as catalysts for spiritual growth. Afflictions in God’s hands remind us of our dependence on Him and of His love for us. They also create compassion within us and make us encouraging to others.

God also uses afflictions to restore His people and to focus our gaze on Heaven. He uses them to point out His activity and to bring about radical obedience.

God always uses affliction in our lives to reveal His glory.

When faced with affliction, we must choose whether or not we will let God use it as a great refining work in our lives or if we will be immobilized by it. For years, it immobilized me.

As I find myself beginning what our culture terms “middle age,” I find myself asking, as Sorge notes of David & Hezekiah, “Lord, you’re taking me away in the prime of my life! I’m too young for this.”

I too often feel like the best years of my life were swallowed up in affliction, that it’s all downhill from here. Yet, something in me recognizes this as a lie. Out of somewhere deep inside, resilience knows to push through, to struggle, to persevere. But that didn’t always exist. Where did it come from?

Sorge reviews Romans 5:3-4, James 1:2-4 and 2 Peter 1:5-8, outlining the pathway to spiritual maturity that each provides. In doing so, he notes that “There is no pathway to spiritual maturity apart from perseverance. And there is no perseverance without pressures. Fruitfulness is found only as we endure through crisis and hardship.”

I’m not sure about the level of fruitfulness at this point, but I know I possess a level of perseverance born out of desperation, a desperation that pushed me toward Christ. As a result of what that desperation did in my life, I also pray for people I love get desperate too. Sorge says this of desperation,sf_HeavensChampion_01

“Affliction naturally produces desperation within us. Some people respond by trying to survive. Others respond by lashing out at everything within reach. Others collapse and live in a state of depression. God purposes, however, that we channel that desperation toward a fervent pursuit of His face.”

My own story of desperation involves all of these levels seemingly moving in an upward spiral toward knowing God more. For so long, I simply survived life. I lashed out at everything – and everyone – within reach. And I collapsed & lived in a state of depression way too often.

Life certainly involves struggle, this I know for sure. Fortunately, God uses that struggle to refine us and  draw us to Him.

But life is also about victory. It’s about knowing He already won the victory. It’s about refusing to dwell on the affliction or adversity and to instead focus on the victory.

“OVERWHELMING VICTORY is ours through Christ, who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)

Welcome to the book club discussion of The Fire of Delayed Answers by Bob Sorge. Each blogger in the group is reading and then sharing on what inspires, encourages, or challenges them. We’ll be taking 2 weeks per chapter. Our co-facilitators are Jason and Sarah – other participants include DustyGlynn, Joell, Rick, and TC. If I missed anyone, please let me know whom in the comments below.

God as Savior, Friend, Daddy & Husband

For the first 28 years of my life, any desire for obedience to God stemmed from the idea of “should.” I should go to church. I should tithe. I should read my Bible and pray daily.

Unfortunately, “should” fails to stand up well under the desires and emotions of the flesh. “Want” provides a much stronger motivation than “should.”

Around age 28, the idea of a personal relationship with Jesus blossomed in my thinking. I already believed He died for my sins, but I never realized He wanted friendship with me too. My friendship with Jesus fulfilled a long-held, deep need inside of me for a loyal and encouraging friend who refused to give up on me even on my ugliest of days.

About 7 years after this paradigm shift, the realization of still more came into my awareness. Not only did God send His Son to die for my sins and save me from eternity in a fiery pit, and not only did Jesus desire a best friendship with me, God also wanted to fill the daddy void in my life.

While I never doubted that my earthly father loved me, I felt like he loved me because he “should.” His lack of involvement in my life left a void – a hole in my little-girl heart – that impacted me more than I realized for many years. One day about 6 years ago, God filled that void. I crawled into His lap and let Him father me in a way I had needed for so long. He became my Abba Father.

Savior. Best Friend. Daddy. Desperate needs fulfilled by one Holy God.

four words

But there’s still more…

“And it shall be, in that day,” says the Lord, “that you will call Me ‘my Husband,’ and no longer call Me ‘my Master.’” (Hosea 2:16)

The idea of calling God “my Husband” seemed quite strange at first. But as I experienced the unconditional love and acceptance, the encouragement and devotion of my earthly husband, I began to understand that this most precious earthly relationship provides a glimpse of the relationship God desires with me.

This relationship with my husband comes only after 20 years of trials and struggles, hurts and offenses. It comes through humbleness, forgiveness, courage and faith. Only because of wilderness times and times of seeming barrenness of hope can my marriage now flourish.

This same wilderness experience also taught me about God’s work in my life to draw me closer to Him as well as to increased intimacy (a word we’ve really misconstrued) with Him. Bob Sorge in The Fire of Delayed Answers says it this way…

“God doesn’t impose the wilderness on us; instead, He puts a desire within us for His higher purpose, and so He allures us into the wilderness. We weren’t asking for the wilderness; we were asking for more of Christ. But God knew the wilderness would be the place where we’d gain more of Christ.” (Chapter 3)

Because of my earthly view of intimacy and my warped vision of what marriage “should” look like, getting to the idea of God has my husband fails to come easily. Yet, the recent growth of abundance in my own marriage after a long period in the wilderness opens the door to yet another paradigm shift, yet another dimension of the complete person of God.

“During the season of dryness and confinement, the Lord transforms our relationship with Him from Master/servant relationship to that of a Husband/wife relationship. God intends the prison to awaken deep bridal affections for the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Sorge, Chapter 3)

Because I experienced Jesus as Savior, I could then see Him as my Best Friend. As my Best Friend, the idea of Him also fulfilling the role of Daddy became possible in my thinking. And now, because these aspects of who He is exist as foundational realities that drive my faith, the shift of thinking to Him as Husband has begun.

And in this change in my thinking about God, I wonder if finally the impetus behind my obedience will now permanently move from fear and “should” to one of love and a desire to please Him.

DISCUSSION: How has your view of God changed over your lifetime? What do you think about the idea of a Husband/wife relationship between believers and God?

Welcome to the book club discussion of The Fire of Delayed Answers by Bob Sorge. Each blogger in the group is reading and then sharing on what inspires, encourages, or challenges them. We’ll be taking 2 weeks per chapter. Our co-facilitators are Jason and Sarah – other active participants include Dusty, Glynn, Joell, TC and Rick. If you know of others, please leave a link for their post in the comments.