[notice]A fortnightly column on marriage, family and relationships.[/notice]
I would honestly say that I never knew God growing up. Yes, I went to church every Sunday and grew up in a family that respected the things of God. My mother made sure that I was confirmed in the Anglican Church and that I was participating in church activities. Yes, my mind knew to do all these things but my heart was never in them. I knew God as a distant “Father”. I am putting the word Father in inverted comas because I never really knew Him as Father. It is a word I said only when we were doing the Lord’s Prayer! Our Father in Heaven…. God was a distant God up there in Heaven. I always knew Him as this powerful being. My concept of God never included such truths as He is MY Father. He is interested in the little things that I do. I can know Him intimately as MY Father.
All these factual realities came after I gave my life to the Lord back in 1995. This coming Tuesday on March 17, 2015 I will have been walking with the Lord for 20 years. Even to say that number for me seems so unreal. I cannot believe that it has been that long. It seems just the other day I was saying the sinner’s prayer and making a commitment to follow Him all the days of my life and for Him to be my Lord and Saviour.
I have been thinking a lot about my relationship with God lately as the 17th of March is slowly approaching. I have thought of the many times that I know I had failed God and how gracious He has always been towards me. I thought about His unconditional love and unwavering commitment to me. I am thinking about the Lord’s death and what His sacrifice means to me. You might be wondering why I am sharing all of this. The truth is when you really think about it the relationship with the Lord in many ways is no different to any other relationship. There are many who committed their lives that fateful night of the 17th but they have abandoned the faith. They have turned their back on God. As in many relationships something happens along the way and the two people involved decide to go their separate ways.
As I celebrate my relationship with the Lord there are qualities of God that I have been meditating on and know that if we were to be more like Him in our relationships we would not separate from our loved ones. Like God we will be there for our beloved through good and bad; through sickness and health; whether we have plenty and whether we have lack!
- His love is unconditional. His love is not based on how good I am or what I have or my status in life. God loves me unconditionally. As human beings we place such importance on the external. How a person looks; what they have; their status in life; what I can get out of them; what others think of them. Most relationships are based on these externals. It is rare these days to find people loving each other because they love each other and do not have conditions on the love such as: “I will be with you only if you have money; if you have connections; if you are good looking”.
- He is forgiving. It is hard not to love the Lord once you realise how much He loves you. How much He has forgiven and continues to forgive you. The way God loves us He forgives us instantly when we ask for forgiveness and the Bible says He remembers our sins no more. If only we could be like that. Human beings in general are not generous with forgiveness! It is not an easy thing to do because our pride gets in the way. Forgiveness is so important to God that He put it in the Lord’s Prayer. “Forgive us as we forgive them”. We need much forgiveness and grace in our relationships. Can you imagine what would happen if forgiveness was generously given. You may say that people would take you for granted. Any healthy relationship exercises some degree of forgiveness and letting-go so the past does not prevent the two of you from being joyful in the present and your future together.
- He is patient with me. The all perfect God is patient and gentle with me. He realises what my strengths are and is willing to take His time teaching me to be more like Him. Patience is a virtue that is getting lost in our world. You only have to witness drivers on the road. If they are not shouting at each other then they are speeding and cutting corners all because they are not patient with each other. It is the same in relationships. Everything is happening at such a fast pace that we are impatient with each other.
- He cares for me. The Bible says: “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). He truly cares even about the little things. I can’t tell you how many times I have thought of something and it was a silent prayer in my heart that I see it happen. Many times I would have even forgotten about that small desire but God seeing my heart’s longing gives it to me. How would our relationships be if we went out of our way to be this caring to each other? Sometimes it is the little things that spoil the vine and it is the little love gestures that make it grow.
- He is always there for me — even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. It is a comforting thought to know that the Lord will always be with me. He will never abandon me no matter what I am facing and no matter where I am. It does not matter IF I MAKE A WRONG TURN OR DECISION. He has promised to never leave me nor forsake me. Most couples would still be together and would not have divorced if they practiced this quality of being there.
- He provides for me for my daily needs. Whether my need is physical, financial or social the Lord supplies for my need. The Bible says: “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus Phil 4:19). Spouses suffer in silence because their needs are not met. Take time to find out what your spouse’s needs are and go about meeting them.
- He gives me strength. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me the Word tells me. When I am weak the Lord is there for me to lift me up. He does not leave me in my weakness. We are given to each other to provide support and companionship. How loving of God to think of the concept of marriage. Someone who is there for your through thick and thin and who will be your strength, praying for you when your own strength fails you.
- He believes in me. The Lord believes in my potential more that I even believe in myself. There are times I find myself doing things that I didn’t even know I could do all because the Lord led me to them. He called Gideon a mighty man when Gideon did not see himself as such. The Lord believes in you and me. We would have a love revival in our relationships whether marriage or extended family if we truly believed in others.
- He knows me more than I know myself. Before He formed me in the womb He knew me. He knows everything about me. He knows my strengths and weaknesses. He even knows the sins I have done and that I will still do YET He LOVES ME. He knows me in my nakedness with all my faults. He knows me more than anyone; my desires; my secrets; my all. How many people have gotten betrayed by those who were closest to them; those ones who truly knew them? Such betrayals cut deep! When someone you trusted with your secrets; the very one who knows you more than any other; the one who knows you in your nakedness betrays you it cuts to the very depth of who you are. If only we can be like God who remains loyal no matter what.
- He is there from the beginning to the end. I am secure that no matter what I go through God knows the outcome. Nothing takes Him by surprise. He is an all knowing God. He is Alpha and Omega. The beginning and the end. So many are there at the beginning BUT how many are there with and for you in the end? Many people on their wedding day say their vows, vowing to be true to their spouse till death do them apart but how many honour those words? The divorce statistics paint a different picture of spouses who walk out of their marriages. Like God let us be there not only at the very beginning but let us be found during the journey and definitely let us still be found living out our vows when we breathe our last breath this side of Heaven.
- He gives me peace. At the two darkest times of my life; one at the passing of my beloved dad and then when we lost our second baby through a miscarriage, God gave me a peace that surpassed human understanding. I found myself ministering to others. In the natural this did not make sense. Here I was, the youngest child and the family were more worried about me more than my siblings but I was the one who was the strongest and who was serving other family members. ONLY GOD CAN GIVE ONE SUCH PEACE WHEN I DESPERATELY NEEDED IT. When I had a miscarriage I was in denial but I am at peace with the fact that God knows the baby and no life is ever lost in Him. I believe that one day I will meet my son or daughter and what a glorious reunion that will be!!!!!!!!!!Like God let us be peacemakers in our relationships and let us pursue peace.
- He is no man that He should lie! I can ALWAYS trust Him to do what He says He will do. He is bound to His word. He watches over His word to perform it. How many of us are like that? How many times do we say we will do something only to not honour our word and inconvenience our families? It is very important that we live our lives with integrity; to live our lives in a way that our families can always know that they can depend on us.
The Lord has shown Himself to be loving towards me time and time again in the last 20 years. The enemy has tried to tempt me away from God by planting thoughts of doubt in my head. He does the same in our relationships. I am thankful that in my many times of questioning, God did not throw me out but has welcomed me like a prodigal daughter back into His loving arms. I am nothing without God!!!!!!!! May I be found loving and serving Him when I breathe my last breath as I know that He will be there for me till the very end!!!