Dwell in Me

Seeking God in the Every Day


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Relating to God in 3 Basic Steps

A couple weeks ago we went to Colorado with my family. I don’t know what it is about mountains that reminds me so of God’s majesty. But I mean, wow! Love.

  
Which leads me to Trinitarianism. This was one of the courses I took this summer (and school’s out for a couple of weeks now!). This class has changed the way I think about God on a level I can’t even fully articulate. Talk about a God who wants to be in relationship with us! During one of our classes, while we were discussing this God in three persons, one of my classmates asked, “When we think ‘God,’ then, are we thinking of the Father?” And my professor replied, “When we think of ‘God,’ we should be thinking of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. That is who God is.” 

This is, of course, the logical conclusion of Trinitarianism–but I hadn’t ever connected it that way. 

And it’s changed how I relate to him–a God who is deeply relational in himself, a God who made us for relationships because he made us in his image. 

So that brings us back to a question I asked a long time ago (just shortly before our little man was born): How can we be in a relationship with God? What does it involve and how do we do it? How do we keep our relationship with God growing and fresh, flowing and not ebbing too much?

I think the first thing we need to realize is, by his grace, he wants to be in relationship with us. He wants this deeply and has gone to extraordinary lengths to make it possible. 

We can’t make it to God because we are so flawed in our fallen state and fallen nature. But God knew this and so he came to us. He became flesh and joined together with us in our humanity and offered us a way back. 

So step one to relationship with God is and always will be belief in his Son. And this isn’t some emotional feeling but a mental decision to trust that Jesus indeed was and is who he declares himself to be in Scripture and that his work on our behalf on the cross and in the resurrection has secured forever a path to salvation and relationship with God. 

But then what? 

It’s easy to take that first step and then keep on living like nothing has really changed. Or even to change your life by the power of the Holy Spirit but without taking it to a relationship level. 

Relationships are challenging. They do require a certain amount of work. And although God will never leave us, we certainly can do a pretty good job of forgetting that he is there. 

So, step two and three in our relationship with God are prayer/worship and Bible study. I don’t know for sure which I would put as two and which as three because they seem to go hand-in-hand. Both are necessary. In my life I know I have gone through phases where I emphasized one and then the other, but I believe it’s important to strive to incorporate both of these into our daily lives. 

We pray and worship as a form of communication with God (and to give him the honor and glory he deserves). Ideally, we should be telling God about ourselves (even though he knows everything already) as well as praising him and honoring and glorifying him. Our prayers should be a way to connect to God as we connect to other people we know and love. We want to recognize his involvement in our lives and let him know our thoughts too. And I would encourage you to spend time in prayer even telling God your anger, fears, and doubts, as well as your triumphs and joys. He is a big God and he can handle hearing about our disappointments. The Psalms are full of raw emotion being poured out to God. Is there anything keeping you from pouring your heart out to him? I’d encourage you to address that and work on getting to a point of authenticity in your prayer life. 

Bible study, I believe, is important in helping us get to know God better. Who is God? What has he revealed to us about himself through his Word? Scripture is such a gift from God and we should want to know all we can from it. 

Imagine if you were hanging out with someone and all you ever did was tell them the goals you have, what you want or need, your preferences and dislikes… But you never once stopped to find out anything about that other person. Would that be a relationship? You may as well be talking to a goldfish. 

We can do the same in our relationship with God if we aren’t careful. And while this won’t change his love and care for us, it is far from ideal. I think we can do better. I think a relationship with God can be the most rewarding and meaningful relationship in our lives–if we let it. 

So, to recap, we have three major steps to help us as we are relating to God: we need  to put our faith in Jesus, pray/worship, and study the Bible. I hope at some point to talk a bit more about what prayer and worship might look like and about good methods I’ve tried for Bible study (and maybe some others I’ve heard about). I talked a bit in a recent post about what it means to put our faith in Jesus.   So, in a meandering sort of way, maybe we’ll end up with some kind of series on relationships after all. Haha 

Enjoy the remains of summer. I’m enjoying my little break, too. And in two weeks: Hebrew! I’m really stoked about it, and maybe just a little scared. 

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How Do We Relate?

There are so many stages in our relationships. Some never get beyond the introductory parts, while others continue growth in intimacy throughout a lifetime. Have you ever looked back on an important relationship and remembered that first, fresh, getting to know you phase? Sometimes it can be awkward and it’s often difficult, in my experience, to get from there to a deeper and more intimate stage of growth. Other times, relationships begin full of excitement and expectations, but never do progress beyond early stages.

Wedding RingsWhen DH and I first met, we had a little background knowledge on one another; we’d had mutual friends and seen each other around campus. We had an economics class together. My roommate was constantly suggesting that we’d be a great couple, but I had no idea how right she was. The first phase of our relationship consisted mostly of him asking me to help with his homework, and me returning, confused, to my roommate and telling her, “I don’t get it. He understands this stuff. He doesn’t need any help.” I was clueless (it all seems so very obvious now!), but it can be difficult for two people to take a relationship from the starting point to, well, wherever it’s going.

This isn’t true only in marriage. I’ve seen it in some of my friendships as well. When we first moved to Texas, I remember spending quite a lot of time pondering how one is supposed to make friends after college. I honestly didn’t know where to begin. We’d meet people at church or Sunday school, but how did you go from knowing someone’s name to actually having a friend to confide in or spend time with? I don’t know what the answer is supposed to be, but I kept coming back to some vague idea of shared experiences. Somehow, before intimacy and true friendship develops, you need to be able to get out of the crowd and do things together–but how?

I have a dear friend here in Texas who happened to walk into Starbucks one day last spring while I was working on my Bible study homework. She and I had met in Sunday school, but this was the first time we’d seen each other in another setting. She had some free time and sat down at my table, and we spent a long time talking. At the time, we were getting ready to start the infertility treatments we needed, and she was going through a difficult time as well. Our conversation became deep really quickly and we’ve never looked back. The other day, she mentioned that this was the first time she had gone to that particular Starbucks, and that she hasn’t really been there since. I can only thank God for establishing that friendship!

There’s an ebb and flow in relationships, too. In different relationships it has different intensity. There isn’t a lot of “ebb” in my marriage, because, well, we’re together. Even when we’re busy, we’re both coming back to the same place nearly every night and the relationship keeps going. I have some friends I only spend time with or catch up with occasionally; most of them live in other parts of the country. But that ebbing, while it changes the relationship, is still, somehow, part of the relationship, too.

I’m not a relationship expert by any means. It’s not a field I’ve studied in depth. But I know that God said, very early on in this whole story of life, that it is not right for man to be alone. We have been created for relationship, and I’d like to spend some time exploring the concept.

The most important relationship in my life is between God and me. He’s never distant, but sometimes I am. He’s never losing touch or hard to get a hold of, but sometimes I am. He’s never the one dropping the ball or forgetting our dates or standing me up; when these things happen, it’s me. He’s never the one who needs forgiveness, but I’ve been angry with him before. He’s always on time, always available, and always interested; even though I’m not.

In the next few weeks, I’d like to write about how that relationship develops, how it changes, how it ebbs and flows, and how we can grow closer to God. I think it should always be a stepping forward, but in my experience, there’s often some backtracking, some unnecessary ebbing, involved. It’s not that I have any answers to how to make it better, but it’s something I want to explore and think about. The thing about important relationships is that they can often be the easiest to take for granted. How can we avoid that?

Are there topics related to this that you’re interested in exploring with me? How do you keep your relationship with God fresh and growing? Or what makes it most difficult for you to be intimate with him? Let me know in the comments; I’d love to explore these things with you.