From the IntroductionI am a thirsty fool. Over the years, I came to realize that what I thirst for is God; I am not hungry for knowledge about God or a philosophy of life that I can embrace, or a source of wisdom or guidance. I am thirsty for God Himself.
Even after I finally surrendered to His love and entered into a committed relationship with Him, I continued to wander. I continued to drink from other cisterns, to pursue other lovers. 4 Like Gomer, God bought me back from my adulterous slavery again and again. He declared His undying love for me and welcomed me in. No matter how many times I strayed, He loved me and welcomed me home.
The journey of intimacy does not end with the wedding. Marriage is another beginning, a pathway to new levels of intimacy. I have been married more than 17 years and our relationship continues to develop. I know my wife and am known by her much more deeply than when we started down this path. I have changed and matured along the way. Our ability to communicate has increased, our trust has deepened, and we have grown toward each other.
My relationship with God is very like a marriage. God established this relationship on the day I finally accepted His proposal. Having committed myself to Him, I renounced all others. Even though my record has not been one of perfect faithfulness, God is the perfect lover and spouse. He never forgets or gets distracted. He is always attentive and engaged. He is always ready to serve or to talk. He knows me better than I know myself, and He believes that I am capable of more than I know. He invites me to know Him and to walk with Him day by day.
God invites us into a real relationship with Him. This has always been the invitation. He created us with the capacity for relationship. We are, at our core, relational beings. We routinely exercise this multifaceted relational capacity with one another, yet this capacity finds its highest expression in our relationship with God. Can you imagine the immensity of this concept?
From Chapter OneIn the last few years, God has been opening my eyes to see what was there all along: relationship is at the core of everything. And when I say everything, I really mean everything. From the very first chapter of the Bible to the very last, it is all about relationship.
Before man was even created, there was relationship. In the first chapter of the Bible, we find God having a conversation with Himself. The mysterious Three-in-One God decides to make human beings in Their image. The plural pronouns are right there in the text. He says, “Let us make… in our image, to be like us.” Before any humans existed, God was already in an eternally existent community with Himself, or Themselves.
The Trinity is an often-neglected core truth about God. I have some trepidation in approaching the topic at all. It is, after all, a paradox and a profound mystery, beyond my ability to comprehend fully. However, it is true and important. I cannot fully explain the Trinity, but I can highlight its significance as I experience His presence. The Trinitarian nature of God means that God is inherently community, inherently relational.
The purpose of this book is not to espouse or defend particular theological positions; however, one cannot write about God with any degree of clarity without taking a particular position. This book is not about defending the doctrine of the Trinity; rather, it is a call to re-engage and re-experience God as He is in His Trinitarian nature.
From Chapter TwoThe truth is that God can be known; He has revealed Himself. We can have an actual relationship with God. This statement may not sound astounding to you, but it is! The staggering message of salvation is no longer staggering to us, because it has lost its shock value. It’s not that it’s no longer good news; it’s just yesterday’s news to many Christians. Many of us have heard this message so many times that we have been inoculated against the power of it.
This was not always the case. There was a time when we first heard the message. We had been living in ignorance of the good news that the God of heaven and earth came down and lived as a man. This God-man died to destroy death and was resurrected to restore life. The Almighty God whom humankind had offended and spurned made a way to restore us to fullness of life and to restore our relationship with Him. This is actually good news – shockingly, amazingly, great news! Nevertheless, to those of us who grew up hearing it a couple of times each week, it may seem commonplace. We often fail to marvel at the wonder of the Gospel.
From Chapter Three
I have grown to think of my pastoral role as analogous to a marriage counselor. I have done a fair bit of pre-marital and marital counseling in my ministry. When counseling couples, it is important to listen carefully to both people. My primary task is to help them communicate with one another. If I make the session about me and my relational experiences, I have stolen from them. They don’t need to know about my marriage, they need to grow in theirs. I need to listen well to both of them and help them hear one another. Where there is error or misunderstanding of basic principles, I may also need to teach; however, the primary focus of the session is on their relationship.
My role as a pastor is similar to this. I need to listen well to the person coming to me for help in their relationship with God. I also need to listen to the Holy Spirit and seek to discern what He may be doing in and around them, or saying to them. I do my best to get the two of them to talk with and listen to each other. Obviously, the Holy Spirit doesn’t need any coaching, but often we do. As a coach, I ask questions and seek to help people discover their own unique journey toward intimacy with God.