Posts tagged relationship
By Olive Tree Staff: Molly Van Ryn
I still remember the first Lent that I was really considered old enough to give something up on my own. It was jr high, and like just about everything at that age it quickly turned into a contest. For weeks lunchtime conversations revolved around Lent: who was giving up the hardest thing, who had been successful the longest, who had fallen off the wagon and whether they were going to try again. Most people gave up some sort of food, like candy or soda. Some brave souls even went so far as to give up television, to exclamations of “No way! That’s so hard! You’ll never make it!”
I don’t remember what I gave up that year, or whether I carried it through until Easter. But I vividly recall the jockeying for position. The people who were giving up something that was perceived as more difficult exuded a sense of smug superiority, only to be replaced by people who had picked something easier and stuck with it. I learned a lot of lessons from that about setting realistic goals, but hardly any about being in relationship with God, or what the season of Lent is actually about.
Since then, my relationship with Lent has evolved. There was the year that I realized that not all Christians participate in Lent in the way that I always had. I was just beginning the long journey of understanding how many ways there are to be Christian and starting to take ownership of the path I had chosen. This was the year that I first did Lent as a conscious choice, instead of just as something that everyone did. Then there was the year I came to the conclusion that I could add a spiritual discipline to my life, such as a more dedicated time of prayer in my day, instead of picking something to give up. It was immensely freeing to have this whole other set of options I hadn’t considered before. It really helped me to focus on the idea that Lent isn’t about getting rid of bad habits, a sort of 40 days of self-help, but an opportunity to grow closer to God and focus on preparing myself for the celebration of His passion.
I look forward to Lent these days. It’s no longer about picking the most difficult thing I can think of. I don’t feel particularly comfortable anymore telling people what I’ve chosen to do for a given year, unless I want them to help keep me accountable. But there is something very meaningful to me in having those 40 days of discipline set aside each year. It is an annual reminder to evaluate my relationship with God, to dust the cobwebs out of the corners of my prayer life and be mindful of ways in which I am not prepared to receive the gift that was offered on the cross. It gives me a reason to set aside resources that I might otherwise consider indispensable to the other areas of my life, a boost to drop the excuses I surround myself with. And I know that there is a community around me, waiting and anticipating as Easter approaches.
With our company being based in Washington State, quite a few of the Olive Tree staff are fans of the Seattle Seahawks football team. Whether or not you are, this short documentary is worth the watch as players and coaches talk about their relationship with Jesus.
Relationships don’t exist without communication. You don’t become friends with someone without some sort of exchange of information with that person that indicated your personality, preferences, hobbies, etc. My wife and I didn’t start our relationship with each other simply because we were physically attracted to each other. Our relationship started when we began to unpack our stories, share things we found funny, foods we liked, and what our hopes and dreams for the future were.
Communication, in all its forms, is what initiates real relationship and it’s also what maintains it. When friends lose contact (stop communicating) the friendship may still exist in principle but it’s no longer active. When marriages are on the brink of divorce it’s almost always the result of a communication issue. Our relationship with God is no different.
There was a revelation (communication) to you about who God is and what he has done for you in the person of Jesus. This is what began your relationship with him and this is what will continue to grow it. So, why do so many of us struggle with the motivation to read the Bible? If reading God’s word feels like a duty, homework, or a necessary act to be a good Christian then it’s time to change our approach.
Read for relationship!
The whole Bible, written over a span of 1500 years by forty different authors, tells of our great God who desires relationship with us. It’s one of his greatest and most important communication methods to us and it’s the foundation of our relationship with him. When you read the Bible you get learn about his character, his attributes, and his purposes. The feelings of duty or obligation quickly fade when the Bible is read to deepen relationship with God and know him more. Not only does our reading allow us to know God more and deepen our relationship with him but our identity is also changed, because knowing who he is affects who we are.
So, if you struggle with your Bible reading remember that the Bible is God’s essential communication, given to us for a relationship that is living, growing, and life changing.