Deepening Friendship with Jesus

Deepening Friendship with Jesus

Deepening Friendship with Jesus

The passage I have been reflecting upon at the Desert House of Prayer this week is John 15:9-17 in which Jesus tells the disciples that they are His friends. One of the statements He makes to them about His friendship with them really grabbed my attention. In verse 15, Jesus says, “I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

One of the things I thought about upon reading that line was a Skype conversation I had with my 2½-year-old granddaughter one day while I was in Scotland. My daughter situated the camera at a specific spot, but Ella kept running in and out of that spot. She kept running off to get something new to show me. Then, as her mom followed behind with the camera, she raced off to show me the way they have fixed up her new bedroom. God seems to have the exuberance of Ella to share with us all that is in His heart. Listen to the way He describes it to the disciples in John 16:12-15: “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify Me because it is from Me that He will receive what He will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is Mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from Me what He will make known to you.”

With the exuberance of Ella, God wants to share with us all that is in His heart. We cannot take it in all at once, so He dishes it out to us gradually, as we are able to take it in, through the Holy Spirit.

How does He do this? Here are some of the ways I have experienced God revealing His heart to me: A godly passion stirring within my soul, a deep longing for or concern about something that is dear to the heart of God, a conviction within my spirit over what is right and what is wrong, a nudge within me to do something or to say something to someone, a tenderness toward someone bubbling up within me, a sense of delight over the beauty that surrounds us, a sudden and unexplained joy of spirit. All of this comes from God sharing His heart with us.

The opportunity that lies before us now is to train our hearts to discern more clearly what God is saying to us.

How do we do that?

I have two granddaughters who are both roughly 2½ years old. Children between the ages of two and three are in the process of learning how to talk, how to put their thoughts and feelings together in sentences and how to pronounce their words in such a way that they can be understood. Ella and Brooke are both doing well in this regard…but they are typical children; they are learning how to speak. They have not yet learned to enunciate all their words perfectly. Because I love my granddaughters, I spend time with them. Because I spend time with them, I can understand pretty well most of what they are saying.

I have learned some key ingredients about understanding the speech of 2½-year-olds:
– The more time I spend with Ella and Brooke, the better I understand them.
– The more careful I am about giving them my undivided attention, the better I am at understanding them.
– It is a lot easier to understand them when I am with them than when I distant from them and merely talk to them on the phone.

Interestingly, these ingredients transfer well to my relationship with God:
– The more time I spend with God, the more attuned I am to what He is saying to me.
– The more careful I am about giving God some time of undivided attention, the more clearly I hear Him speak to me. (This is why the Christian disciplines invite us into practices like daily time in God’s Word and in reflective prayer. It is not for the sake of earning us spiritual Brownie points, but for the opportunity to hear more clearly as God speaks to us.)
– It is a lot easier for me to understand what God is saying to me when I am close to Him than when my heart is distant from Him.

The place where this analogy breaks down is at this point: It is not that God is just learning to speak; it is that I am just learning to listen and to understand.

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4 responses to “Deepening Friendship with Jesus”

  1. Kelli Randolph says :

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Debra Tripp says :

    Lovely analogy, Tom.

  3. Karla Shaeffer says :

    Tom- I have been reading a book by Priscilla Shirer ( Discerning the Voice of God ) in which she suggests that our main communication failure with God is that we simply do not allow time for God to respond and for ourselves to listen. In Chapter 1 she uses Ecclesistes 5:1-2 as well as several other verses. I have found my relationship with the Father deepening, just by being a better listener. This book is excellent; It is my choice for the fall women’s Bible study, but others have made other requests– it is still a very good book and I intend to read “He Speaks to Me” Shirer’s other book on the topic. Listening deepens our relationship with not only God, but any relationship we are trying to strengthen.

  4. Laura Ullrich says :

    I love watching your relationship with Ella continue to develop and blossom, and I’m so grateful that you are able to spend time with us on your sabbatical. I can attest that you truly share your undivided attention with your granddaughter, and she adores you!

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