Today’s Reading: Daniel 1:1-2:49
The thing that the king asks is difficult, and no one can show it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh. Daniel 2:11
Well glory glory Hallelujah that is no longer the truth!!! Over this weekend I was yet again overwhelmed with the desperation of our Lord for intimate relationship with His creation once again. To dwell within the flesh of His people through His Holy Spirit. Sitting in church yesterday I could feel His heart longing toward the congregation for just a simple conversation. Like two friends sitting across the table from one another casually sipping coffee or tea and sharing the joys, frustrations and longings of our lives with one another; simple, unhindered, free. I was struck with the realization as God quickly took me through scripture to show me how this has ALWAYS been His aim. From the very beginning to this very day, the entire Bible is about Jesus and how God has always wanted us to see Him as our friend.
In Genesis it started in a garden with the original newlyweds. There they were, naked, unashamed, free, happy, blissfully unaware that they weren’t worthy of a relationship with God Almighty, creator of heaven and earth and everything in between! Their eyes were closed to one glaringly obvious fact, God isn’t like them. But in one conversation that all changed and “then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:7-13) Is it just me, or can you hear the pain in the LORD God’s voice “Adam, where are you?” For the first time EVER Adam is hiding from Him, why? Because, for the first time, he is ashamed of how he is, naked, unworthy, shameful, dirty, not good enough, you know the list just as well as I do. (“For we all have fallen short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23) Oh! It makes me want to weep!!! God didn’t ask where Adam was because He didn’t actually know where he was, He is God after all. He asked because He knew what had happened. Like a parent walking in on a child’s mess of torn leaves and sewing materials and asking “Who made this mess” full well knowing precisely who made it and how. But look at what happens next! Adam explains why he hid, “I heard you coming and I was afraid of you because I was naked.” Now, tell me dear friend Adam, weren’t you naked BEFORE you ate the fruit too? Yet you weren’t afraid of the LORD then, you didn’t hide your nakedness from Him before, so why now? Why run from the One who loves you the most? Oh dear reader, THIS is the legacy of Adam, THIS is the sin passed down from generation to generation, the knowledge that we’re not good enough for a relationship with God. And I beg your pardon to indulge me for a moment while I expound the same question to you that I asked of Adam, has this ever mattered to God? Did it ever matter to God that we were formed from the dust by His very own hands? Did it make a difference to God that Adam and Eve sat there buck naked in front of Him day after day before they ate the fruit? If you believe that it did bother Him, please point out to me where in scripture it says that their nakedness was a problem for God before they listened to the Enemy.
Then God’s pain from being denied his daily chat with His two favorite kiddos turns to anger. “Who told you that you were naked?” God knows that this is not knowledge that they could have acquired on their own, it could have only come from one place, one evil source who’s purposes are to turn all of humanity against its maker. Satan, the one who is, to this very day known as the accuser, the one who stands on our shoulders and tells us that we’re not good enough moms, we’re not good enough lovers to our husbands and that’s why they leave us. He tells us that we don’t make enough money or that we aren’t good enough friends, that we don’t support enough charities or that we give too much to charities and not enough to our families. His list of “not good enough’s” is as endless as our willingness to listen to his lies! He has been very successful in filling this world, especially our media, with messages of “you’re not good enough… without this product”. You’re not young enough, you’re not skinny enough, you’re not tall enough, you’re too tall… it’s enough to make a man go crazy and make clothes out of leaves!!! Seriously, what were they thinking? Leaves? How caveman can you get? But I digress. After all of this, the part that gets me the most isn’t the harsh punishment that is dealt out by a very wise Father who knew precisely what it will take to rectify this situation, it’s the conversation between the trinity about what to do next.
Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take alos of the tree of life and eat, and live forever -” therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
It’s like the parent conference after their son brings home the wrecked car, “OK, what do we do now to make sure this doesn’t happen again”? The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are standing apart from Adam and Eve, with their new freshly skinned clothes, looking down on them with extreme sadness at the loss of intimate relationship that they have just undertaken and one of them says to the others “Well, they know they’re not worthy of us and it’s too late to change that, but there is one thing that we can do. We can remove them from this garden so that they can’t eat the fruit that will keep them like this forever.” And the way they leave the statement hanging without an actual end, like “well, you know what would happen then, and we just can’t have that.” Like an understood statement between the three of them, they know that none of them would be satisfied leaving things exactly the way they are now for all of eternity. So they decide that the best course of action is to “drive out” (probably not in an actual car) Adam and Eve from the paradise of intimate relationship with the LORD God until He can show them once and for all that they ARE worthy of an intimate relationship with Him.
And throughout history, God has worked on that! He took Abraham aside and said, “come follow me” and he did. And without a single rule to follow Abraham loved God and had relationship with God like few people ever had. But it wasn’t the same as in the garden and God knew it. Then Moses came along and God showed His people His awesome power, perhaps hoping that that would show them how much He loves them and wants an intimate personal husband-like relationship with them. But all it got Him was complaints of not enough food or water and doubt that He would be willing to deliver them from the giants and into the land of promise just like He delivered them from the Egyptians and out of the land of slavery. Like a suitor trying to court his future wife the LORD God just couldn’t catch a break! These people were hard to convince that He loves them! That He loves us.
“Well, let’s give them the Law and a process for them to follow to make them feel like they aren’t dirty and have been made clean by the blood of animals, maybe that will show them how much We love them! Siiiigh…. maybe. Or maybe it will just give them something else to concentrate on and worship instead of Us. A religion to practice rather than a relationship to enjoy. But I guess as long as they’re still talking about Me and thinking about Me and singing about Me, I guess that’s better than nothing, right?” My friend, I can talk about my husband until I’m blue in the face, but it’s not the same as talking TO my husband! It’s not the same as looking deep into his clear blue eyes and hearing the sound of his voice telling me about the joys and trials of his day. He can tell me all about car parts that I have no clue about and it doesn’t matter to me a smidge that I haven’t the foggiest idea what he means, all that matters is that he’s communicating with me, that he’s sharing himself with me. That’s what I care about as his wife, and that is what I believe is what is at the heart of God. I believe that He is desperate for that kind of a relationship with YOU. The kind of relationship where you talk until there are no words left to be said and you can sit comfortably in each others presence and just be in that moment with one another. That’s what God wants for us. That’s what God has been working thousands of years towards, those comfortable silences, those endless nights where you stay up all night just talking because you simply can’t stop. He longs to wink at you from across the table because of something silly your kids just did. Yes, He IS the creator of the universe. Yes, He is the LORD God Almighty and no we aren’t worthy of the kind of relationship that He longs for with us, but if HE doesn’t mind our low status then should we???
As a last illustration of God’s desperation for a relationship with you I present Jesus Himself. Grand deliverance from slavery didn’t work, religious process for purification didn’t work, so there was only one thing left to do, come down and do it Himself. And like a story from a fairy tale the Prince of Peace became a Pauper, just like in the garden he shed the elegance and power of Almighty-ness and put on the naked flesh of a poor carpenter’s son. He may have even worn his cousin’s hand-me-downs for all we know! But you know what I think, I think those were 30 of his absolute favorite years of all time! The Bible doesn’t tell us how long it was before Adam and Eve ate the fruit, but it does tell us that Jesus was thirty years old when He started His ministry. Thirty years to walk this earth among the people that He is desperate to have relationships with. Thirty years to sit across the table from his brothers and his friends and just talk like a normal human being… just like Adam and Eve. I have to wonder if it went through His mind “this is what I’ve always wanted it to be like! Only with EVERYONE!” After Jesus starts His ministry many of the scriptures point out Jesus’ insistence that the healed person not tell anyone what He has done for them. I’ve often wondered why on earth He would do that?!? It makes no sense! Doesn’t He want everyone to know that He is the savior they have been prophesying about for generations? I believe the biggest reason that He didn’t want them telling everyone about His healing abilities is because once you become a super star everyone wants you for what you can do for them, not just for you. For thirty years Jesus had been able to have intimate personal human relationships with everyone around him. They didn’t know who He was, and He was OK with that! Because if they had known, they would have treated Him very very differently; they would have treated Him like a King. If He had wanted to be treated like a King, He would have come as one. Ask any celebrity today, anyone who has won the lottery, and they will be able to tell you that their personal relationships are tainted because of it, just look at the divorce rate among them! Once people know that you have power, they don’t really care about who you are anymore they only care about what you can do for them. Well, Jesus did something for us and it should mean the world to us!
When I first started blogging almost a year ago I shared a story about something my husband did while we were engaged. I had just started the second semester of my first year at Purdue and was feeling like my relationship with him was weighing me down. Now, it certainly wasn’t a matter of me not wanting to be with him or not loving him anymore or even that I had my eye on someone else, it was just that he was the only guy I had ever seriously dated and I was curious if that was a mistake. I was wondering if there was someone else out there for me besides him. So one night I called him over and broke up with him. I gave him my engagement ring back and told him that I wanted to see other people. He drilled me for an hour asking me if there was someone else, didn’t I love him anymore, etc until there was nothing left to be said. But he wasn’t leaving. (That’s my man!) It was dark, it was cold and he asked me to go on a walk with him! I thought he was crazy but humored him, I had just broken his heart, it was the least I could do for him. As we walked we could see our breath as it came out in puffs of white under the bright street lights along the sidewalk toward the middle of campus. We hardly said anything, just walked along until we got to the fountain at the center of campus. On summer nights it is a true sight to see, all lit up and beautiful, but on this early winter night the lights were dark and the water was dry. As we approached the fountain Christian’s face fell even farther until he looked something akin to droopy dog as he plunked hopelessly down on one of the cement benches surrounding the fountain. When I asked the most obvious and yet stupidest question of all “What’s wrong” he answered “I was going to run through the fountain to prove to you how much I love you”. Now ladies, it doesn’t get much sweeter than that now does it? Here is this guy that I’ve just totally drug through the mud, stomped all over his heart and handed his engagement ring back to him (that I asked for I might add) and what does he do? He takes me on a walk to the center of campus in order to run through freezing cold water in the beginning of winter with no extra clothes to wear in order to show me just how much he loves me and is willing to do to show me how much he loves me. (silly sheepish grin – THAT’S MY MAN!) Obviously the rest is history, my cold heart of stone melted and he asked me once again if I would marry him and of COURSE I said YES! With tear-filled eyes and a very cold butt from sitting on cement in winter. Now, I don’t know about you, but in my book, that’s love! Being willing to torture yourself with needles of icy water to prove your love for someone. Yet it’s still nothing compared to what Jesus did for all of us to show us how much He loves us and wants to marry Him.
At the last supper He took the glass of wine and held it out to His disciples and said “Take, drink, this is My blood poured out for you”. What many people don’t know is that in that very moment Jesus was asking each of His disciples to marry Him! It was a Jewish custom that the bridegroom would hold out the wine cup, declare his intentions toward the girl at the table that he wanted to marry and then if she was willing to marry him she would then drink from that same cup that he had drank from. When the disciples drank from Jesus’ cup they were agreeing to be united with Him for all of eternity. That’s what the Lord’s Supper is about, taking Him in to be part of yourself, part of your life, part of your marriage, part of your joys and your sorrows. That night He asked each and every one of us if we would marry Him and be His bride. And then the very next day He allowed Himself to be nailed to a cross and died in order that we would be able to SEE just how far He was willing to go to make SURE that we knew that we are forgiven of every trespass, every iniquity, every foolish decision or stupid mistake. But then as if that wasn’t enough, because for some its not, He then rose from the dead to prove who He is – the Messiah and He came and again walked amongst the people showing them His scars, eating to prove to them that He is not a ghost, but flesh and bone – just like them. He then breathed on His disciples and told them to accept the Holy Spirit, HIS Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth and Peace, the Spirit that guides us in the way that we should go and keeps us safe from the fowler’s snare. Jesus is our advocate of defense against the Enemy and his accusations telling us that we’re not good enough. While Satan may be on one shoulder telling us that we’re not good enough to be married to Jesus, Jesus’ Holy Spirit is within us screaming “DON’T LISTEN TO HIM! HE’S A LIAR!!!!! I LOVE YOU THIIIIIIIS MUCH!” and reminds us of the cross.
Sure, while my rejection of my fiance’ hurt him, it certainly wasn’t enough to sway him from wanting to continue our relationship and marry me anyway. Our rejection of God’s gift of a Marriage with Jesus hurts Him like none of our sins ever could, but it still isn’t enough to sway Him from still wanting to continue seeking a marriage with YOU. He wants you like no one on earth ever could. He loves you like the fiercest storm. He desires you more than a woman desires chocolate during that time of the month. He craves you more than a pregnant woman craves ice cream and pickles. Jesus is desperate for a real relationship with you today, He’s holding out that cup, drinking from it and then passing it to you. The cup is in your hands, will you drink it? Will you say “YES!” to His proposal? I can guarantee you that it will be the BEST decision you will ever make! He is willing to run through fire in the middle of summer for you, icy cold water in the middle of winter for you, He’s willing to drive railroad spikes into His wrists and heels for you, He loves you. He always has and He always will.
Say YES to Jesus today, out loud just so that the angels can hear you and cheer! Then, if you would, tell me, so that I can cheer with them! My email is: firstname.lastname@example.org I would love to hear from you. I am here to help you along the journey of finding that intimate place between you and our savior, to help you find what works for you.
Number one on your list must be daily time in His word! Not for the sake of reading it, but for the sake of relationship with Him. A time at the table to talk, so to speak. His word is one of His main forms of communication with us, and prayer is our main form of communication with Him. Prayer is simple, people like to make it much more complicated than it has to be, it’s talking to God, that’s it. Just talking to Him as if He were sitting right there in the room with you… because He is! Like a husband talking to His wife and vice versa.
BOY HE LOVES YOU!!!!! I can just feel it pouring down like a light spring rain right now, He loves you so very much!
I Choose Jesus by Moriah Peters