For intro see #1 in this series.
In any relationship, a meaningful connection between people can only happen if people know each other. If we’re going to relate personally to God in a meaningful way, it will mean being nothing other than ourselves. Sometimes we might find this hard. We think we have to be a certain way before we can approach God in prayer. So (if we relate personally to God at all), we “cover up” certain parts of us (like Adam and Eve, ashamed to be exposed before God and hiding away – Genesis 3).
We do this in everyday life. For example, if we’ve been invited for tea and biscuits at Aunty Bertha’s house and she asks how we are, we probably wouldn’t say, “I’m struggling with lust” - even if we were! We tend to present certain parts of us while hiding other parts from view.
So our relationship with Aunty Bertha stays on a certain level. We
talk, we chat, but we don’t really relate deeply. And that’s understandable to some extent. Perhaps Aunty Bertha wouldn’t know what to do if you said you were struggling with lust. Perhaps, by asking how you were, she only meant to be polite. Then again, perhaps if she got to know the real you on a deeper level, she’d show love and understanding – and you’d both be better for it. Either way, it’s uncertain – because none of us love others as perfectly as we should.
The good news is that it’s not that way with God (see yesterday’s
post). If we’ve placed our faith in Jesus, God is 100% for us 100% of the time. Does he think lust is a good thing? No, of course not (unless it’s your spouse you're after!)! But even when you sin – in whatever way – he is for you, not against you. Wanting the best for you. Committed to your ultimate good.
So when we relate to God, we can do so honestly and openly. Just read
the Psalms! These songs to God in the Bible express just about every emotion known to man – joy, doubt, despair, longing, anger, grief – it’s all there. And they are sometimes unbelievably honest!!
‘O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us, what
deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old...But you have rejected us and disgraced us...You have made us a byword among the nations, a laughing-stock among the peoples...All this has come upon us, though we have not forgotten you, and we have not been false to your covenant...Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us for ever! ...Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!’ (Psalm 44:1, 9, 14, 17, 23, 26).
Here we have a man who, though not without faith and affection for God
(see Psalm 44:1-8), has serious doubts about God’s faithfulness – and is not afraid to express what he’s feeling with incredible honesty.
What’s the point of this Psalm? Why on earth did God want it included in the Bible?! Surely the point is that relating to God personally – and therefore honestly – is always a good thing, wherever we are. Doubt is not a good thing – but being honest with God definitely is, however we’re feeling and whatever we’re going through.
Because God wants a relationship with us. Not just the people we will become, but us – the people we really are, right now. So can I encourage you to be completely honest and open with God when you talk to him? If you’ve sinned, confess it. How you felt. Why you did it. All of it. If you’re love for the Lord is lukewarm, tell him – he wants to help, not hinder. If you have no idea what to say and find prayer a struggle – talk to him about it. And if you're in love with the Lord and overwhelmed with joy, sing your heart out to the Lord.
Approach your affectionate, heavenly Father as an affectionate,
heavenly Father. Honestly.