By Beth Doohan
“Since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.” ~John 13:14-17
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” ~Isaiah 43:2
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Have you noticed how much you can tell about a person by watching the fruit in their life? As you get to know a person, you probably can learn a lot about them and what they believe based on the things they share, how they act and their opinions. In the same way, how a person thinks and acts reveal the way they view God.
In our previous articles, we discussed how Scripture shares many different names, attributes and descriptions of God. That understanding of His character impacts our lives and relationship with Him. When you think of God’s character, what comes to mind? He may be your Savior, but is He also your Father? He may be your Lord, but is He also Your Confidant? How have you experienced His comfort, His faithfulness, His justice, His grace? Are you seeking Him every day, or only when you need Him? When He speaks to your heart, do you actually listen and obey?
Today, we will discuss two specific aspects of God’s character: God as our Lord and God as our Confidant.
From our previous article, we have learned about God as our Savior and Father who gave Himself for us and longs for deep relationship with His children. As we walk out our Christian faith, are we inviting Him to be Lord of our decisions? Are we following His call and guidance to love and serve God and others?
As we get to know our Lord deeper in Scripture, prayer and daily walk, our lives will be transformed more and more into His likeness. Oswald Chambers wrote, “We know that He (Jesus) did not come to teach us only. He came to make us what He teaches we should be.” (My Utmost for His Highest) This happens through the Holy Spirit at work in us as we spend time with our Lord! The more we learn from Him and surrender our hearts to Him, the more He will steer and orient our lives for His purposes (which is to our benefit and ends up blessing us and all those we impact!).
Sadly, many who identify as Christians live as though God is there only to meet their needs and support the life they want to have. But our Lord is not moldable to what we desire Him to be. His Word says, “I Am the Lord, and I do not change” (Malachi 3:6). Timothy Keller shared, “If you believe that the Bible was more primitive and that we are now culturally enlightened, then we are a slave to our cultural moment. You will never have a personal relationship with God, because you will never listen to Him, only what you want to hear. You will have a God whom you have created, not a living, personal God.” (“The Liberty of Obedience” in series “Psalms; Disciplines of Grace” by Timothy Keller at Redeemer Presbyterian Church) If we are going to be transformed in our Christian walk (Romans 12:1-2), then we must make Him Lord of our entire life, believing what the Bible says with conviction and following God’s direction in our decisions.
Out of a heart of love, what can we do for our Lord, this amazing God whom we follow wholeheartedly? He has given us a calling to serve Him and love others, living on-mission as part of the work that God assigned to the Church. As we draw closer to our Lord, may we intentionally submit our convictions God’s Word and surrender our decisions to His purposes.
One of Wholehearted Woman’s favorite heroes of the faith is Elisabeth Elliot. She and her husband Jim Elliot were serving as missionaries in Ecuador when he felt God’s calling to reach a violent tribe, the Auca Indians, with the Gospel. He and four other men went to minister; all five were martyred with spears by the Aucas.
As a wife and young mother with tragic loss, Elliot experienced God as an anchor to her soul and made Him her Confidant. Instead of pulling away in her pain, she immediately pressed into God in intimate vulnerability to receive His comfort and care, praying “Lord, let not the waters overflow (Isaiah 43:2). And He heard me and He answered me.” (p. 1, Suffering is Never for Nothing) During her season of greatest grief, Elliot kept her heart hidden in God’s care, receiving His healing amidst deep sorrow. Shortly after her husband was martyred, Elliot answered God’s call to live among the Aucas with another missionary widow. For two years, she shared the Gospel with the people whom her husband had died trying to reach.
Some of our most vulnerable, challenging, grievous times can bring about the greatest healing and wholeness with our Confidant. C.S. Lewis wrote, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” (The Problem of Pain) This broken, fallen world will always struggle with pain and suffering. The Bible tells us that as Christians we will face trials and persecutions, hardships and troubles, but to take heart in our Confidant because He has overcome this world (John 16:33) and is with us when we walk through the darkest valley (Psalm 23:4).
Tying It All Together:
Throughout this series, we have explored God’s character as Savior, Father, Lord and Confidant. We have discussed how our relationship with God is directly correlated with our understanding of who He is. When she faced immense suffering and loss, Elisabeth Elliot wrote that, “my faith had to be founded on the character of God Himself” or it would have fallen apart (Suffering is Never for Nothing, p. 26).
Now comes the whole point: When we know God intimately, we are anchored in who He is through His Word and His faithful promises. As we face pain, uncertainty, loss and trials, or need direction and wisdom for a decision, our perspective shifts from What is God doing? to How can I draw closer to God through this? We may feel confused, hurt, or even angry. But in midst of this, God desires for us to come to Him, to trust His character, to know that His steadfast love will give us all we need. God longs to meet us every day, when the waters are calm and when there are storms. He is always with us and is working behind the scenes to fulfill His purposes in our world and in our lives. To God be the glory!
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- Timothy Keller said, “When people think obedience is all about limiting your abilities, they have a skewed view of our human nature. Every person is either obeying their sin nature or obeying God.” What areas might you be clinging to your own personal desires, rather than submitting to the Lord’s desires? How can you have a surrendered heart to be transformed in these areas?
- “The deepest things that I have learned in my own life have come from the deepest suffering. And out of the deepest waters and the hottest fires have come the deepest things that I know about God” (Elisabeth Elliot, p. 9, Suffering is Never for Nothing). What trials have you faced and what did you learn about God’s character through them?
- Have you made God’s character the foundation of your faith? How can you draw closer to Him as Savior, Father, Lord or Confidant?