Friday, March 05, 2004

The Purpose Driven Life
Chapters 11 and 12 - deepening the relationship

In Chapter 11, "Becoming Best Friends with God," author Rick Warren talks about deepening our relationship with God, who "yearns to be your Friend." After the fall, our close relationship with God was lost, and only a few people in the Old Testament, like Moses and Abraham were called "friends of God." It was Jesus who brought each of us the ability to have a wonderful new relationship with God.

Warren gets a bit into the predestination/predetermination mode, saying God "planned the universe and orchestrated history, including the details of our lives, so that we could become his friends." To me, Warren still doesn't give enough due to free will.

It is a delicate balance. I think God does put people and things, and of course, the actions of the Holy Spirit, into our lives to help point us in the direction He wants us to go. But He still gives us free will -- us and the people around us. I read in a physics article years back about the concept of "independent variables," those random actions, chains of actions and reactions that occur in the physical world and bring an element of unpredictability with them. I see this in our lives. We can't see those independent variables coming at us. (Maybe they're what happens while we're planning our lives.) God, able to see the whole of history and time, which He also created, sees those outcomes.

So, if I should be mugged in a parking lot, is it because of God's will or because of a chain of free will actions in a fallen world that leads the mugger to conk me and steal my bag?

I don't think God causes bad things to happen to us. But having given us that free will that was first abused in the garden, He lets us deal with the consequences. It is His mercy that so often saves us from ourselves and this world. The Bible tells us that every good thing comes from God.

Constant conversation, breath prayers, taking joy in the common tasks of life, and using reminders, such as the chimes of a clock to remind us to pray, are all ways we can spend time with God.

Chapter 12, "Developing Your Friendship with God," touches on what I blogged about March 2, that even imperfect people are chosen by God because of God's Grace. Abraham and Moses were honest about their feelings, sometimes challenging and questioning God, and Jesus is still the "friend of sinners."

He wants honesty, not mealy-mouthed piety, and He does want us to choose to obey God in faith (ah, some free will). We don't have to do great things; sometimes it's in the smaller things -- a word of kindness, praise, prayer. "What pleases the LORD more: burnt offerings and sacrifices or obedience to his voice? It is better to obey than to sacrifice."(1 Samuel 15:22, NCV) This sums it up pretty well, in God's own words.

Warren says that the truth is we're as close to God as we choose to be. I mostly agree. There are things, spiritual, emotional, physical, circumstantial, that get in the way sometimes.

I think John Denver best summed up what it's all about -- a "sweet, sweet surrender." Once we get past that point of ourselves, there's a joy in surrender to God. We can become what He wants us to be -- "like a fish in the water, like a bird in the air," whatever we are called to be according to God's design.

Funny thing when I blogged yesterday -- I was convinced that the words "I can't live without you" are in the song somewhere. I looked at the lyrics -- they are not -- my unconscious addition to the song. I corrected the quote and added mine to it.

I can't live without Him, so I will surrender to Him.

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