We don’t have to look long or far or hard to see a world full of loss, and lack, and suffering. What then, should we believe about God? What do you really believe about God’s character? How does this practically impact your relationship with Him?
Do you agree with this common misperception of God? — God is a Taker.
Chapter 1: The Giver
“For God so loved the world that he gave…”
God is full of surprises.
One of the greatest surprises of my life is that God was able to make me understand He was communicating, even speaking, with me. That’s some power, let me tell you!
But do you want to know what the most continual surprise in listening to, and receiving from God in prayer, has been for me? It’s sad for me to share this, but I want to be honest, right from the beginning. The recurring surprise is this: God is a Giver. Always. He is absolutely determined to give us the best– to give us His love, joy, and rest. He is devoted to giving us everything we need.
I did not realize, before I began to learn and regularly practice listening for God’s communication during prayer, that I viewed Him, related to Him, and, practically speaking, anticipated Him to be a Taker.
My kids talk about their birthdays all year round. No sooner have the candles been blown out and guests have gone home do they begin dreaming about next year. They anticipate upcoming holidays and parties. I try not to tell them about special outings until the night before, or the morning of, because otherwise I will hear about the event non-stop until it has passed. I used to think it was ungratefulness that spurred their always-looking-forward attitudes. Now, the more I listen to them, I believe it springs from a pure and God-designed place.
Children are naturally good at thinking about the future with joy and anticipation. They expect to receive good things from those who love them. Even when the days are hard or mundane, they can find such joy in thinking about, talking about, and knowing wonder-full, joy-filled plans are in their futures. It takes something significant to warp this perspective in a child.
Several devastating events happened in my childhood and teen years, and, at some point, I stopped expecting to receive good gifts from God in life as well as in prayer. I did not anticipate prayer with wonder, joy, or an expectancy that I would receive any kind of good gifts. For a long time, prayer felt like I was talking to the air. God, to me, was silent to my tears, my pleas, my problems, my thoughts, and my questions. I was angry at Him because I never heard from this God whom I was told loved me so deeply. I doubted He loved me at all, and I doubted whether He was good or real in any way that affected my life. I approached and expected each day, and my fewer and more far between prayer times, to only consist of me giving and never receiving. My lack of hope and joy could have tipped me off to the fact that my perspective had been severely warped, but I didn’t see it that way until well into a relationship with Christ several years later.
For years, my daily attitude, whether conscious or subconscious, was this: God takes my time; He takes my energy and effort; He takes things I like and want, and things I believe I need. God takes my prayers to Him; He wants me to give Him all my thoughts, worries, and deepest sorrow– but all my prayer time feels like a one-way conversation.
No matter the relationship– even if it is with God– if we feel we are the only one giving, giving, giving and talking, talking, talking, never receiving, we quickly, or eventually, redirect our worship.
Practically, we worship what, or who, we believe gives the most to us. We worship what, or who, we believe saves us– from boredom, from emptiness, from our different kinds of hunger and thirst.
Even after I began to know God as real and good, I regularly overlooked or forgot that for the joy set before Him, the Giver endured the cross. That what He took — what He takes from us — is the cross. Our sins. The sins of the world. Jesus set the example of looking forward with hope and joy to enduring that excruciating cross because of the intimate relationship that was to come with us– with me, with you. This is what He looks forward to, what He wants to give you– joy through intimacy.
He created us with deep feelings, and He understands that, even when misdirected, some part of us knows that Love is the only reason worth getting up every morning. He wants us to know He is that passionate, unchanging, beautiful, fulfilling, sustaining, communicating Love. The more we know Him, the more we can accurately and expectantly look forward to what is to come, to the astoundingly good future He has planned for us.
If we have not experienced God to be a Giver, but view Him as a Taker, we will not go to Him for our every need, with our deepest desires. We will not worship Him with our lives. We won’t know He is the One, the Only One, who truly saves us every day in every way.
And we won’t experientially know, or at the very least remember, that God is this always-good, always-faithful, loving Giver unless we position ourselves, allow ourselves, and/or recognize when we are receiving from Him.
So join me friend, because I could not be more overjoyed to share with you the most awesome gift, the greatest and most humbling surprise God has ever given me: The ability to hear and receive directly from Him.
Dare to let yourself hope, expect, and look forward with joy and childlike faith that this incredible gift of communication with God is offered to you, too. With all His heart, God wants you to experience that He is a Giver.
And what He desires to give you is beyond all you can ask or even imagine.
~edited excerpt from my free eBook about listening to God in prayer.
What about you, friend?
Do you believe that when God orchestrates, or allows, loss, lack, or suffering in our lives that He is still, always, a good Giver? Does how you relate to Him indicate that you practically believe He ultimately takes from you… or that He gives to you?
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” ~John 1:29
Linking up with Ann today, and a whole community of amazing people committed to counting all the ways He gives, and gives, and gives…