October 4, 2013

It’s funny, you know, how we think we know what’s going on with God and how we have all the answers.  But then, as if to humble us and remind us of who is God and who is human, He reveals something new about Himself.  And sometimes, He reveals something new about us.  And, because I often think I have Him figured out, this happens to me regularly.

That being said, I’ve been going through a fascinating stage in my vow recently, or rather, in my life.  My dear friend and mentor, Dr. Ellington, describes it as moving from knowing things intellectually to knowing things experientially.  Many concepts, like the marriage imagery that is used throughout the Bible, are becoming so real to me.

A few months ago I was having a discussion with my friend who likes to play the devil’s advocate a lot.  We were discussing the idea of once-saved-always-saved.  He puts it this way:  God is our father and we are His children.  And if we are His children, then for argument’s sake, let’s say we live in His proverbial house.  Now, on our own we don’t know to stay out of the road and remain in the safety of His yard.  So, because He loves His children, He puts up a fence around the yard to keep us close to Him so we won’t wander off to whatever catches our attention and hurt ourselves.  As our Father, my friend believes, God will protect us from our own desire to distance ourselves from Him in pursuit of something shiny.

And honestly, that’s all fine and good if you believe God works that way.  But, do you really think He wants us to stay infants?  I know my parents didn’t want me to stay their baby boy forever.  And aren’t you glad? I mean seriously, I’m much cuter now.  Right?


(First Grade)

Likewise, God doesn’t want us to stay babies in our faith either.  He wants us to grow in our relationship with Him so He can have candid conversations with us and live amongst us in an open, honest way, just like you would with your spouse.

Now, I am convinced that everything in life, including flowers, the cool breeze, the sun, water, good food, peaceful sleep, and pretty much everything else is a representation of an aspect of God.  I’ve even been captivated by a beautiful woman and God spoke to me reminding me that she was only beautiful because He was beautiful.  She was a reflection of that aspect of Him.

In the same way, our relationships with people are representations of Him.  Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, spouses, best friends, strangers, and so on are all just different ways we are to know God.  Count Von Zinzendorf even referred to the Holy Spirit as a female, mother-type figure because of Her comfort and peace.

So, let’s look again to our marriage imagery.  As you grow in your relationship with God, developing your spiritual and even emotional maturity, you will begin to sense powerful emotions and it feels amazing.  There is nothing quite like experiencing the presence of God in a deep, emotional way. This is a lovely place to be and I urge you not to rush through it.

It helped me to think of it this way: you are in the honeymoon phase, which is enveloped in fantastic emotions, and as any married couple will tell you, if you don’t enjoy your honeymoon then you’re doing it wrong.

But after a while, again, as any married couple will tell you, you realize it’s not all about the emotions.  They are certainly wonderful to experience, but it’s so much deeper than that.  You wake up to the same face day after day and it clicks with you: this is about commitment.  This is about dying to yourself because you love them, even though it’s difficult, and probably more difficult than you bargained for.

One of the most powerful things that God has revealed to me on this vow is that nothing is a formula.  It’s not a set of rules or dos and don’ts.  What we have with God is relational.  It’s a very fluid thing and it’s very imperfect because we are imperfect and God knows that.  That’s what allows us to have a real relationship and not just some holy to-do list.

If we can’t be completely honest with God and even others that are close to us about what we are feeling or thinking, something is missing.  I often get frustrated with God and we talk about it in, what some would consider, a very irreverent way.  I don’t believe that offends God because even if I didn’t say what I was thinking and feeling, it’s not like He doesn’t know.

It’s not about looking good to the Christian community or to the world’s idea of Christianity. It’s not about doing it right or being on your best behavior like always going to church and blessing your food before you eat.  Rather, it’s about being committed, dying to ourselves, and enjoying the soft freedom of honesty and imperfection in relationship with Him.

Yes, He’s the King of Kings and I definitely wasn’t there when He laid the foundations of the earth.  But He does want to talk to you like you’re a real person, not just a robot that’s programmed to spit back the right answers to Him.

The two of you have the rest of your lives together.  Maybe you should talk about it.

Because of Him,

Brent Hemphill


If you’re just now joining my journey then please know that I will not be on Facebook during my time of consecration so any messages or requests you may have sent will not be responded to for quite some time.  It’s not personal, it’s Jesus.

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