Savior and Friend
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 failed to stand up well under the desires and emotions of the flesh. “Want” provided 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 fulfills 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 seven 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, 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.
God as Husband
“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. As I experienced the unconditional love and acceptance along with 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 came only after 20 years of trials and struggles, hurts and offenses. It came through humbleness, forgiveness, courage, and faith. Only because of wilderness times and times of seeming barrenness of hope does 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 growth of abundance in my own marriage after long periods in the wilderness opened 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. Now, because these aspects of who he is exist as foundational realities that drive my faith, I can also see him in the role of husband. This role is one he plays for all of those who are part of his church (i.e., his bride).
“‘Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure’— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true words of God.’ (Revelation 19:7-9)
In this change in my thinking about God, the impetus behind my obedience now moves from fear and should to love and a desire to please Him.