Amazing Friendship with God

What does it mean to have friendship with God? Have you ever experienced friendship with God? If not, would you desire that? The answer probably depends on your perceptions and beliefs about God, just like what draws or repels us about having relationships with others. We are drawn by good experiences, perceptions and beliefs about someone and repelled by negative ones. 

There is a song: “Friend of God” by Phillips, Craig & Dean describing a close relationship we can have with God that is “amazing!”. The lyrics describe the unconditional love God has for us and what we can experience in a close relationship with God: Almighty God thinks of us; God hears and answers when we call. 

Who is your closest friend? How would you describe your relationship with your closest friend or any relationship you would label a close friendship? For some their closest friend is a parent, sibling or other family member. Most close friendships have developed over a long period of many years and yet close friendships can develop in much less time given the person’s character and behavior, the frequency of contact, and circumstances around that relationship. A relationship with God develops in similar ways. If we can experience God as a parent, taking care of us, loving us unconditionally with forgiveness for our mistakes, being always ready to support and comfort us when needed, the relationship deepens. 

Most close friends exhibit love and support for each other although one person can be more physically or emotionally supportive given the greater needs of the other person, like a child that depends on a parent That love develops through continuing experiences with each other where there is trust, acceptance, forbearance, empathy, dependability, commitment and other qualities exhibited in their relationship. Chapter 13 of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians describes many qualities of love. Unconditional love given to another no matter the other’s weaknesses and faults, like that given by man’s best friend, the dog, is the most comforting and fulfilling experience.  

(1 Corinthians 13:4-8 AMP): “Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked nor overly sensitive and easily angered; it does not take into account a wrong endured. It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth when right and truth prevail. Love bears all things regardless of what comes, believes all things looking for the best in each one, hopes all things remaining steadfast during difficult times, endures all things without weakening. Love never fails; it never fades nor ends.” Have you experienced this kind of love? I have found some of these qualities with different people at different levels, but with God I experience all of these qualities consistently in the greatest capacity no matter how well I do or do not do what might be considered ‘good’. Looking back to times when I turned away from God, I believe God still displayed this love to me but I did not perceive it given I did not draw close enough in relationship with God to experience it.

Close friendships develop with people whose character and behavior is attractive or admirable to us. To grow a friendship with anyone we need to come to know a person through communication and many experiences of the other person that contrast to the superficial qualities of other types of relationships. Our personal experiences of another person can reveal the existence or lack of love or other qualities we desire in friendship. It is the same relating to God. We discover God’s character and behavior through a real personal relationship of 2-way communication and experiencing God responding to us and others throughout history.  

We can discover God’s character demonstrated in reading through the many books of the Bible, not just small sections, as the patterns of God’s behavior become more apparent. Jesus said he demonstrated the character of God. (John 14:8-9 AMP) Philip said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father and then we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time, and you do not know Me yet, Philip, nor recognize clearly who I am? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father (God).” Reading about Jesus in the Bible can help us know God better. 

In addition to reading about God, we can experience God’s behavior towards us individually. Over decades I sought, researched, discovered and practiced many spiritual methods that gave me some wisdom, peace and even grew my perceived relationship with God and helped me get through various difficulties, but I was never changed at a continuing deeper level and, more importantly, my trust in God did not improve nor did I really experience my relationship with God beyond head knowledge. Only in experiencing God through the revelation and experience I received by entering into conversation and active response through bible study and personal prayer was I able to experience my relationship with God in a way that was more real and as tangible as any other relationship I had ever had, even without the benefit of senses like sight, sound and touch.

The sensations and experiences in our spirit, soul and in some cases vibrations felt in the body can be even more powerful than other sensual experiences of the body. As I have found God to be responsive, loving, forgiving, dependable, generous, even self-sacrificing in Christ’s behavior, I am drawn to be closer and more trusting. The more I trust and engage with God, the more I experience, the more I am drawn closer. It is really a mystery, as Paul describes in his writings as do other spiritual writers. One can only experience this first hand by entering into this kind of relationship with God, not by listening to someone else’s experience except as a guide to seek this kind of relationship individually and have these experiences first hand for ourselves.

Close friendships require some continuing, if not frequent, contact to maintain the intimacy and connection. None of my close relationships stayed as close given increased geographical distance or intervening circumstances preventing contact over long periods. Similarly with God, I find daily quality time with God and God’s Word, the Bible, maintains and strengthens the relationship, grows intimacy and builds knowledge I have about God, myself, the world and others. In the last few years, I lost most of my close friendships through geographical relocations, deaths, Alzheimer’s disease in a close friend, family circumstances demanding most of my time, and chronic illness keeping me homebound, isolated and immobile. As my friendships and family disappeared, I turned to God spending more time in Bible Study and close communication with God, and, as a result, I experienced a growing intimacy with God,. Now I can truly consider God as my closest friend and trusted parent. 

Often our closest friendships develop through shared crisis and hardships suffered together. The crisis and hardships I have endured have drawn me closer to God and I discover God seems closer to me at those times. I have come to believe God is always close, but it is myself who moves closer to experience the intimacy and blessings of a close intimate relationship with God, providing all I need at all times, planned by God before I need it. The closer I am to God, the sooner I find what I need in amazing ways by being available to receive the guidance to lead me along that best plan. 

And what about God’s attitude toward us? What would precipitate God calling us a close friend? The New Testament letter of James mentions that Abraham “was called the friend of God” and attributes it to his faith in God (James 2:23) and not being a “friend of the world.” (James 4:4). To have faith in God means to trust God. God is worthy of our trust but we need to experience why that is true for our trust to grow just like we grow to trust anyone or anything else. And being a friend of the world is trusting the world, or anything in it, more than we trust God, or, choosing what the world offers over choosing God. Many trust God but still fear losing a partner, money, health, career or anything else we think we cannot live or be ‘happy’ without. For me I discovered that I was trusting in other people, myself or things more than I trusted God to have a good plan for my life. Through many experiences over time given many difficulties I have learned that God can and will provide all we need without us having to cling to anything or any person, or our own inclinations more tightly than we cling to God. As God told Jeremiah, another so called friend of God, in a most beautiful section of the Bible, (Jeremiah 29:11-13 AMP) “I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call on Me and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear your voice and I will listen to you. Then with a deep longing you will seek Me and require Me as a vital necessity and you will find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.'” This sounds like the best friendship of all time that we can ever have and it is available for all if we want it. 

I challenge you to take steps towards seeking a closer relationship with God. Ask God to be your friend. Listen for guidance to lead you to take certain steps. Pay attention to inner desires that arise to do things. Respond with action and see what happens. Take some time each day to connect with God as you feel drawn. Even 20-30 minutes a day in prayer, bible study and reading the Bible can make a difference. That is where I started. There is so much available today to help you do the same thing. If you ask Jesus into your life, you will have the Holy Spirit to guide and teach you. (John 14:26 AMP) “The Helper, Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf, He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you. ”

If you are already on that journey, I encourage you to continue despite setbacks since often when we are on that journey the enemy of our souls tries to distract and discourage us, but God is always faithful to draw us back. After many stops and starts, distractions and disappointments, I had a growing experience and desire for an intimate relationship with God that I have discovered is more real and wonderful than I could ever imagine. As Jesus said more than once: (John 10:27-29 AMP) “The sheep that are My own hear My voice and listen to Me; I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they will never, ever by any means perish; and no one will ever snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater and mightier than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. ”

Thank you for liking, sharing, for any comments and for following my blog. If you follow, you will get emails whenever I post. If you have any subjects or questions you would like me to consider in my blog, or, suggestions for resources I will be developing, add a comment for others to like, or send your comments through my contact page with more explanation. Prayers can also be requested confidentially through my contact page. You can also follow or connect with me on Twitter, Instagram or my Facebook page with links at the top of each page of this website. I keep all correspondence confidential that I receive through this website’s contact page, by email on Facebook and direct messaging on Twitter and Instagram. 

Shots fired! What’s your next move?

Much too frequently these days we hear news reports about lone shooters firing guns in a public environment, usually a place where people have usually felt safe like a movie theatre, school, shopping center, restaurant, or even an airport where security abounds. This past weekend was another occurrence of a tragic shooting of innocent victims at an airport. In listening to the news reports about this event I reflected on some deeper insights. 

The shooting started suddenly without warning or indication of reasoning or plan of attack. How often do we encounter a potentially harmful situation or encounter suddenly interrupting events in our lives pushing our plans aside or askew for our day? There are natural disasters, weather events, traffic accidents, road rage, shopping frenzies, rude strangers crossing our paths or service providers or organizations failing to meet their commitments necessary for our plans and continuing life activities. How do we react? What emotions do we feel? It is said what we are full of is what comes up in a crisis. What is our response? How can we minimize the impact or injury or maximize our options and results? Do we take time to reflect on these questions and discern the answers? Sometimes there is no time available to reflect because we need to take immediate action to defend or preserve what is invaluable, as in the airport shooting this past weekend. 

It turned out no one interviewed of all the airport staff, security personnel, shooter’s family or friends, witnesses or victims expected or understood what was happening, why it was happening or what was going to happen next. Only someone outside of the event timing (afterwards) would be able to gather information by reviewing evidence, video and investigation, except for the all knowing presence of God. 

There are a multitude of stories of people who survived the attack on the Twin Towers on 9/11 who felt spiritually ‘directed’ to safety, even going in directions opposite the crowds or even against instructions from emergency personnel. Being ‘tuned in’ spiritually to God would definitely be an advantage. Like being tuned in to our favorite station or source of information, we need to be tuned in all the time to receive emergency alerts and notifications with instructions. We also need to have a habit of listening, being aware and responding. We can find and keep the information ‘channel’ of God open through a growing relationship with God in one’s life, just like having close connections to any other person, only with God, we do not need a WiFi, phone or video connection to receive communication or directions.

 The Israelites in their journey through the desert to the promised land in Canaan followed God who was physically present to lead them in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. We do not have a cloud or pillar of fire visible but today we have God’s presence available to us within us by the Holy Spirit that comes to us in Christ, as he promised while here in physical form. We nurture this relationship through daily constant open channels of communication. My life has totally changed by daily receiving insight and direction in a growing intimate relationship with God developed through daily practicing various methods and activities that open and strengthen the ‘signal’ of these divine channels of communication. Sharing these with others has been a passion I wish to continue through this blog.  

The potential victims in the airport shooting responded in many different ways: hiding, running in different directions, ducking and dropping to the floor, some responding by protecting others. In video footage you can observe some people actually placing themselves in the line of fire by just moving without required wisdom. There was really no way to know what was the best action to take. Only God knew

Certainly various emotions besides terror were running high in and following the dangerous experience, including shock, relief, grief and various levels of anger and rage. Several people abandoned all their belongings including valuable communication devices, personal identification and monies they would later need to move on from the experience. What would you hold onto? Obviously self preservation and certainly protection of loved ones, especially children, took priority over possessions or ID. Past experiences show that people who survive catastrophic events are more likely to do so and to help others survive when being more calm without focusing on fear and terror. 

What makes us calm in life threatening circumstances, whether with an armed shooter or with a deadly disease or financial catastrophe? Growing up with frequent life threatening traumas, I developed fear and anxiety as an ongoing underlying emotion. But over the years of developing a closer relationship with God, my anxiety has changed to peaceful trust through many amazing experiences proving God’s presence and provision. With each year, I have found I have more underlying joy and peace, the more I experience God working in my life and I learn to trust in God’s love, goodness, provision and guidance

Jesus’ frequent expression was “peace be with you”. The great prophet Isaiah wrote: Isaiah 26:3 “You (God) will keep in perfect and constant peace the (any) One whose mind is steadfast, that is, committed and focused on You, because that One trusts and takes refuge in You with hope and confident expectation.” That hope and confidence will not disappoint! Romans 5:5: “Such hope in God’s promises never disappoints us, because God’s love has been abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us (in Christ).”

Reflecting on this event, I received one other insight after asking myself (and God), “why would anyone abandon their money, phones & ID?” Those that did found themselves stranded, unable to contact help, get transportation, or even prove their identity to leave the airport or secured safety areas provided by civil authorities, which areas became hunger inducing prisons. I immediately thought of what our identity is based on: our beliefs about ourself and the world. By running in terror and anxiety without knowing who I truly am, not just a physical body, but a spiritual being existing in God, I lose my identity and the resources for finding the assistance and direction I need to move to safety and for the best future activities that will produce a fulfilling life. 

Thank you for liking, sharing, for any comments and for following my blog. If you follow, you will get emails whenever I post. If you have any subjects or questions you would like me to consider in my blog, or, suggestions for resources I will be developing, add a comment for others to like, or send your comments through my contact page with more explanation. Prayers can also be requested confidentially through my contact page. You can also follow or connect with me on Twitter, Instagram or my Facebook page with links at the top of each page of this website. I keep all correspondence confidential that I receive through this website’s contact page, by email on Facebook and direct messaging on Twitter and Instagram. 

Facing Storms!

We all encounter “storms” in our lives. If you see a storm approaching, you might take cover and make preparations for protection and endurance, especially if you have advance warning. I spent most of a week preparing for Hurricane Matthew, and another week catching up with what got put aside for ‘storm duty’. This is why I did not post on my blog. I find life is often like that. We make our plans and a ‘storm’ of one kind or another takes our attention, time and energy, while everything else gets put aside. These storms can be illness, death, relationship problems, physical accidents or threats of many kinds. We sometimes get notice or warning signals that give us time to prepare or take measures to lessen their impact. Often they catch us by surprise. Hurricane Andrew was like that. it turned during the night and most of us awoke in the morning to surprisingly find it was coming right at us instead of heading away as forecasted, and we were not prepared enough in advance. That is why they have added the longer forecasts to help us be more prepared, even if the storm changes its course just enough to pass us by. We spend a lot of time preparing and protecting ourselves from things that never occur, but of which we are afraid. It takes wisdom and some discernment to know how much we need to do in response or preparation.

Fortunately Hurricane Matthew did little damage in my location but we still needed to prepare. And even if no damage, there was still cleanup activities and work undoing some of the storm prep activities in order that life can go on as usual. I had some lessons and ‘tests’ along the way I would like to share. I have learned to trust God when I see storms coming. I turn things over and pray to discern the things I need to do. When the power goes out, gas pumps, credit card machines and ATM’s do not work and often banks are not open. It is wise to have a full tank of gas, non-perishable food, water, battery powered devices and extra cash. The ATM machine ate my Debit Card, probably suffering from over use by many others doing the same thing. I learn to accept what I cannot control. Even so, a wave of dread washed over me as I saw the long lines of people inside the bank doing withdrawals without a debit card. I saw a customer service rep and she had no customers so she was able to help me immediately to get a new debit card and we had a nice time chatting. It was a nice break from all the storm duty activities and in the process I received a new security chip card for my old card devoured by the ATM. 

I went to gas up my car and there were such long lines I needed to go around the back of the station fully prepared to wait. As I drove in there was an empty gas pump with no line in back so I was able to get my gas and leave quickly. The line behind me formed rapidly. I felt blessed again. I believe being in an attitude of gratitude, letting go of fear, anxiety, impatience, anger and frustration, opens the door to receiving more blessings. But this attitude did not come easy for me. It grew over several years of ‘training’ under the leadership of the Holy Spirit given through a life surrendered to Jesus Christ, who enables us with a new spirit to become like he witnessed himself to be while on the earth as a man. My childhood had taught me to be afraid and anxious around crisis and focus on taking care of myself since no one else in my family protected me from life threatening traumas occurring every day. If bad things happened as an adult, I was brought back to victimhood into fear, anxiety, defensiveness and controlling behavior. Now I have come to experience myself victorious through Christ who helps me whenever I am in need. It frees me to let go of always being in control. 

In a few hours I found most of what I needed for the storm at the several stores I visited, but there were no D size batteries anywhere. In several stores, there were lots of other people looking for them also. One thing you need if the power goes out is a lot of D batteries for all the flashlights and battery powered devices. After visiting and calling several more stores, I went home without worry, trusting in God as I have learned to do and a friend texted asking if I found all I needed. I told her about the batteries and since she was in a store I had not visited much further away from my home, she looked and found a few, which she bought for me. The power and WiFi went off a few times but not anything drastic. We were blessed that we were not hit head on.

I was thankful for the storm duty because I have been recovering from several years of being limited physically and this was a test of how much activity my body could stand. My faith, patience and brotherly love was also tested as I found myself being calm, friendly and supportive of others going about the ‘storm duty’ activities, a new experience of myself in such a crisis situation since I have been growing in Christ. I helped people find what they were looking for, warned the people behind me in the ATM line, or lightened the mood of cashiers with humor or buying them a piece of chocolate as a treat. The storm event could have changed my mood, frightened, angered or depressed me, as it has in the past, but in acceptance and trust, I discovered my body, my faith and my character are in better shape than they have been for several years, so I was doubly blessed by the experience. The blessing on top of it all is that seeing myself being so different, being the way I want to be, but could not achieve on my own, builds my faith and growing surrender even more to God in Christ, through the Holy Spirit, who can do for me, in me and through me for others, so much more than we can hope for or imagine. 

Thank you for liking, sharing, for any comments and for following my blog. If you follow, you will get emails whenever I post. If you have any subjects or questions you would like me to consider in my blog, or, suggestions for resources I will be developing, add a comment for others to like, or send your comments through my contact page with more explanation. Prayers can also be requested confidentially through my contact page. You can also follow or connect with me on Twitter, Instagram or my Facebook page with links here. I keep all correspondence confidential that I receive through this website’s contact page, by email on Facebook and direct messaging on Twitter and Instagram.