“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me”.- John 15:13-15
I cannot remember a time when I did not know God. My mother had been teaching me about Him since before I could even speak. Yes, my mother used to have conversations with her months old toddler. According to her, I would nod, raise my brows, laugh or frown, in perfect response to the things she said, as if I understood her. I guess she was right because as soon as I could speak, I began asking a million and one questions in a day about God. I saw Him in everything I did and everything about Him excited me. I must have been five when I began talking to Him (My mom told me I could, so I did). In no time, I began to hear him too and very clearly. He became my best friend! Oh how I loved Him and I did not doubt His love for me for a second.
Things became more complicated in my teen years, when I moved to boarding school. I quickly realized that I was different. My peers called me names like “goody two shoes”. People did not see Him the way I did, so my good works translated to them as an “I am holier than you all” attitude. They were wrong though. In reality, pleasing God came as naturally to me as breathing. God was my best friend and I naturally stirred away from things that would lead me to breaking my best friend’s heart.
To cut the long story short, I eventually traded friendship with God for more friends at school. The emptiness that followed ate at me for years, as I struggled to find my way back to the only one who could make me whole again. I tried to mirror the memories of the little girl I had once been, who loved God wholeheartedly. Outwardly, I succeeded. Internally, something was missing. How could I have been doing everything right and still feel so wrong? Why did I still long desperately for the little girl I used to be when I now did everything she used to do right?
I suspect that many of you reading this can relate with me. Like me, you must have at some point harbored a deep-seated emptiness; a longing for something indescribable but undeniably amiss. It must have felt like a loss. For many, a loss of something you may have never even known but missed all the same. At some point you might have become desperate; willing to do anything, anywhere, with and for anyone to feel the void in your heart. Of course, you discovered quickly that all your efforts at finding satisfaction ended in futility (or so you’ll soon discover). Matter of fact, they only expanded the pain, feeling your void with guilt and maybe even shame. So, eventually you might have lost hope or almost did. When hope left, its possible that you felt life leave. Nobody understood. Many of them might have abandoned you even. And I could go on and on…
One of my favorite songs is Blessings by Laura Story. There’s a verse in it that goes:
“What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life are a revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy”.
There are indeed hungers that no one and nothing can satisfy, except the one who created us. The things we long for, the nameless losses we feel, the desperation are all masked thirsts for the God that our souls once knew- the first face, we ever looked upon: the face of our maker.
Really, it did not have to take me years to find my way back to my best friend. It could have been a journey of only a second but I was trailing the wrong path home. For years, I trailed the path of self-righteousness, striving to reach God through my own goodness, forgetting that it was the friendship factor and not my works that set me apart as a little child. The result was an outward appearance of goodness and masked emptiness inside. I longed for more- more of something I could not explain but knew I needed.
I’m not isolated in my experience. Many people desire God and have tried to live up to what they believe are His standards. Many, out of the belief that they can never be good enough, have gone the opposite direction and sought satisfaction from everything and everyone but Him. Either of the two roads must have ended at the same destination: futility and exhaustion. I became exhausted because given my mistake, I was trying to do the impossible: become worthy enough for God.
But (shocker!) He never asked us to do that!
All God has ever asked of us is that we simply come to Him and allow Him make us worthy. In the book of Hebrew (4:16), God invites us to “come boldly before His presence in order receive mercy and grace at our greatest time of need”. I’ve always found it interesting that this verse does not invite us to “come boldly” after receiving grace and mercy (i.e when we have been made worthy), but rather, before the fact. That is, God wants us in His court, dining at His right hand, enjoying the best of Him even when we are most unworthy and He wants us to do it with boldness! Because of what our savior Jesus did on the cross, we can enjoy an unlimited access to God that is independent of our “worthiness” or lack of it (John 15: 13-15)!
Once I came this realization, my life was changed forever. This was what my little girl understood that I, with all my grown up wisdom had forgotten. God did not care for the high-sounding prayers I struggled to stay up to offer every evening. He wanted me to simply talk to Him. He did not care for my self-imposed “morality” or pious self-denial (Colossians 2:20-23). All those were “filthy rags” to Him (Yes, he explicitly says this in Isaiah 64:6), where there was no true communion with Him in my heart.
He said to me:
Daughter why do you think I came to die for you, so that you could keep dying within you each day? Why do you keep choosing the road of strife, when I have done the work? Why not allow me carry you?
Allow Jesus carry you
Let Him be your friend. God is not a distant force who expects us to meet up to impossible standards of perfection in order to gain the worthiness to reach Him. He makes us worthy each day, when we let Him (Lamentations 3:22-23). And He does this through His Spirit, whom He has promised to give freely to all people who desire it (Acts 2:17).
I have had many joys and many pains in my life but none has compared to the satisfaction I have found in knowing Jesus and allowing His Spirit take the wheel. With the gift of knowing God, comes also the gift of knowing yourself- your true selves the way God has always seen you. As a friend of God, you’ll find an unshakable assurance in God, no longer needing the validation of people and things that never satisfy. God will be committed to you; ever present (unlike those who have left you). He will keep His promises, because He is not one to ever disappoint and His love will always stand for you!
The benefits of being a friend of God are endless and indescribably exciting! If you are like me and have at some point grown weary of struggling to please God, I invite you to join me in exploring the struggle-free alternatives, of doing friendship with God and surrendering totally to His Spirit’s leading. Through these lessons on friendship, you’ll also discover tools for finding your identity and purposes in Christ.
Once again, welcome to The LOB blog!!!
Prayer for Salvation: Lord, now I know that I can never please you on my own. I’m tired of trying or not even trying at all. I need you Lord. I need you. Give me you in exchange for my hurts. Jesus, I believe that this is possible because you were thinking of me when you died on that cross. I believe in what you did and I confess that you are my Lord and my savior. I confess my sins unto you, all my imperfections, all of me, I surrender to you. receive me into your kingdom Lord and give me your Holy Spirit.
*P.S. if you just received Jesus into you heart or will like to, I will like to pray with you. Also, if you have any questions. Please send me a message through the “Contact me” page.
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God Bless You.