Connecting with the Jesus and his Father as he makes himself known to you was meant to be the simplest thing in the world, until our religious approaches got us all twisted up in our own performance and we felt we had to try and make “it” happen on our own. Many people miss that revelation because they are looking for something far more complicated or spectacular than how God draws us to himself.
Most people seek God with their physical senses hoping to see him or hear him in supernatural manifestations of his glory. While God does that some times, he is far more interested in helping us learn how to recognize him with the eyes and ears of our heart and to awaken those senses that engage the Eternal. God is always active around us—always moving, always speaking; it’s just that we miss him because we haven’t learned to recognize or trust our spiritual senses that engage him.
Over the last twenty-five years I’ve had the joy of helping many people find their way out of the religious jungle of self-effort to the trailhead of a growing relationship with him. Unfortunately time does not allow me to do it with all that write me or even that I visit, so a few years ago I put the key things I think help people the most to a set of videos. There are twenty-four of them, only about 5-8 minutes long designed to get people thinking in the space that makes it easiest to see how God is making himself known to us. We called the series Engage as a way of helping people see how God is engaging them.
We affectionately refer to this as the anti-discipleship approach because so many people have the idea that discipleship is building a relationship with God. In truth, discipleship isn’t about you building a relationship with God; it’s recognizing how God wants to build one with you.
Last week I got this email from Ed, as he is sorting this process out in his own life. I love the journey he’s on, and even though his hunger is satisfied yet it is obvious that the relationship he desires with God is growing in him. Yes, it takes time and it doesn’t happen the same way for everyone. All we can do is make ourselves avaialbe to him and then learn to recognize where God nudges his thoughts into ours and pours his strength and power into our struggles.
I honestly don’t even know how to relax into the relationship as you put it in the Engage series (currently going through those for the third time). I am so trained to be on the treadmill of religious performance that I feel anxious and nervous when I’m not doing something. I can’t ever remember a teacher or institution that wasn’t prodding me to do more, be more, give more, etc. Relationship with God has been modeled and taught to me as an exercise program. I seem to have been (religiously) born into an endless state of panic about how God views me and I’m driven to chase a never ending list of dos and don’ts in the hope that one day I’ll finally arrive at a state of “acceptable”. Honestly it’s exhausting just to think about it.
When my wife and I first left the our congregation I thought the joy I felt was me learning to walk in relationship and really experiencing the love of Father. Now I know that I was just so glad to be out from under the oppressive religious system we grew up in that I mistook that sense of relief for everything else. Now I perceive that the religious system was off of me but not out of me.
I’m listening to the Engage podcasts again (but being the religious performer I have to listen to more than one a day lol) and this morning I listened to #18 on the way to work. I had to listen to it twice because there was so much in it that spoke to me right now. Your relationship with Father is a present reality and you seem to just live out of that. I suppose that’s why my wife and I keep listening and reading your podcasts and books, because we truly want to see what a life lived in real relationship with Father looks like. We don’t see you as a “guru” but an example of the kind of life we hope for. I hope this makes sense but just your being (verb) is as significant to us as anything you talk about on the podcast.
Yes, it makes sense, Ed, and I do think that’s how life in this kingdom gets passed on. I’m glad not to be your guru; I only hope to be a brother pointing the way to a trailhead that lets you discover with increasing clarity how God is making himself know to you. Obviously that is stirring in you and in time you will become more comfortable listening with your heart.
Recognizing God in your life is not difficult because it’s complicated, but because it is simpler than we dare to believe.