god talks to his friends - part I


14 You are my friends if you obey me. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a master doesn’t confide in his servants. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. John 15:14-15

You are… a friend of God. Do you think of yourself that way? Can you picture Jesus walking into the room right now, smiling as he sees you, and reaching out to embrace you? He would look right into your eyes, giving you his full attention. He would ask you how you’re doing and you would feel his genuine concern for you.

He would listen intently to your every word, picking up every nuance, gesture, and emotion. He would completely understand what you’re going through. And then he would respond to you, telling you just what you need to hear. You would feel safe and secure in his love.

To imagine this scenario brings into focus that Jesus is present with us right now, even though he isn’t here in the flesh. I wish I could reach out and physically touch him, but for now it’s not to be. He doesn’t speak to me audibly, but he does speak to me in a quiet inner voice….

“Tomorrow is going to be a really good day”. Once or twice month, just as I’m about to fall asleep, God says something like this to me. “It’s going to be…a really good day… or “a great day”…or “get ready for a surprise”.

In those bedtime moments when God whispers, I’m often not praying. As I’m dozing off and my brain is going into ‘suspend mode’, I’m startled by a clear thought such as “you’re really going to like what tomorrow brings”.

He’s always right, of course. When I get these nudges from God, inevitably something extraordinary happens the next day – I get a phone call from a close friend I haven’t heard from for ages, I have a conversation with a co-worker that is a key turning point, or I’m really happy because it’s a beautiful sunny day (that alone can be huge in Vancouver if you’ve had twenty straight days of cloud and rain).

Not only does he hear us when we pray, sometimes he takes the first step in speaking to us.

Why would he speak like this to me? Why would he go to the trouble to say something so specific, yet so simple? I can think of a lot of reasons. He loves me and wants to encourage me. He knows that the energy of my life is directed towards him. I’m partnering with him. Partners talk about the work they do together. He, of course, is the Senior Partner in this operation. But any wise manager lets his partners in on the process of planning, making decisions and moving forward. Any wise manager cheers on his workers to give them a boost.

Jesus said that he and the father would make their home with those who love and obey him (Jn. 14:23). What a picture of warmth and intimacy. Home is where we know unconditional love and acceptance. It’s where we can completely relax and be ourselves. Home is a place to talk about anything and everything. In my home, I talk to my kids. Surely our Father wants to talk to his children!

There’s something so special about toddlers. When my son Ian was three years old, he wanted to be with me no matter where I was or what I was doing. He would come running into my office, jump on my lap and say “show me some pictures!” (He prefers seeing pictures of himself that I’ve saved on my computer – the birthday pictures get the biggest rise). If I’m gardening, he insisted on having his own shovel to dig alongside me. If I was going on an errand, he was thrilled to come along. He was enthusiastic about doing what I’m doing, just because he gets to be with me. Along the way, we talk.

The imagery in the Bible used to describe our relationship with God is very diverse – we are co-laborers, servants, heirs. Many of these metaphors are familial relationships - parent-child, sheep-shepherd and lover-beloved. In all of those relationships, there is speaking and listening from both sides.

What kind of marriage would exclude intimate conversation? Only a really bad marriage. If the cords of conversation are cut between Linda and me, it doesn’t take long before our feelings of love dry up. If our responsibilities eclipse our friendship, we wander down parallel but separate roads and find ourselves in different worlds. But if we take time to talk, we stoke the fire of our mutual love and commitment to one another. Family members talk to each other.

What kind of parent-child relationship would exclude communication? Only a heart-breaking one. There is a direct correlation between broken homes and broken communication. When a father and son never talk, how can love be given, how can trust be engendered? How can a loving attachment be built and nurtured?

When I put my kids to bed, I kiss them, pray for them, and tell them I love them. If I, an imperfect human father, know how to do this for my kids, how much more does our Heavenly Father know how do speak to us his words of comfort?

Is it presumptuous to think that almighty God would speak to me? Am I really that important to God? As a matter of fact, yes I am. Is God really that concerned about how my ‘tomorrow’ is going to look? As a matter of fact, yes he is.

Don’t we believe God to be all-powerful and, all-knowing? Then he certainly knows how each of our ‘tomorrows’ is going to unfold. Is it presumptuous to think that God would talk to his friends and family? Dallas Willard quotes Lily Tomlin on hearing God: “Why is it that when we speak to God we are said to be praying but when God speaks to us we are said to be schizophrenic?” (from “Hearing God” DW).

My journey with God began with a bang. He showed himself to me and I responded. That’s the way it started and that’s what keeps me going. He keeps speaking to me. His words to me are daily bread. My response to God’s whisperings is deep thankfulness. This is the never-ending cycle of worship, revelation, more worship and more revelation.