from Rachel: Near to God

[starred for emphasis] Our God is faithful and true. He is not playing games with us or changing his mind. He loves us. Jesus died for us. The Bible speaks to us. The Holy Spirit works in us. And in all these things, God is glorified.

With no worrying about right or wrong answers, how would you respond to that question (how does one receive the strength of God)?

“I think first one opens oneself up to the possibility, generally by asking in prayer, but possibly by feeling Him offering it amidst a crisis. Then she needs to relax her control in her own strength and allow God’s strength to truly work in her and flow through her.

“(It reminds me of how Ramon has to remind me to relax my arm or leg, not help him support its weight, as he massages it.)”

Today, are you near to God or far away?

“I think I’m somewhere in between, about a 6, if it were a 1 – 10. I’m like a toddler or preschooler who doesn’t want to sit still and cuddle or snuggle. I just run in for a reassuring hug periodically, then I go back to doing my own thing.”

1. What obstacles stood between the paralyzed man and Jesus?

“A large and tightly packed crowd, then a roof (and the perils of gravity)”

2. What caused Jesus to give the power of His forgiveness?

“He saw the faith of the man and his friends.”

3. What happened when Jesus made the weak man with great faith stronger (v. 12)?

“The man got up and walked out, and the people were amazed and praised God.”

What are the characteristics of a life lived close to God?

“Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control, selflessness, forgiving, forbearance, grace, mercy and an attunement to God’s will.”

What kind of strength does God give to those who stay near Him?

“A quiet and calm, yet amazingly powerful strength.”

[starred] The Lord does not force us into a close relationship with him. He’s too good for that. He reveals His lavish love and then allows us to choose.

Dearest Rachel –

It’s curious – but not entirely unexpected – that your first answer about receiving the strength of God shifts from the use of a generic ‘oneself’ to feminine pronouns, indicating that you were taking a personal approach to your answer. From a grammatical standpoint, it’s a little out of character, but it’s interesting to see you take the question personally in real time as you attempted to address it. You even added in a personal anecdote as an analogy; one that made clear you had difficulty letting go of control even in such little things as a massage.

I know these study books were never meant to be read by anyone other than yourself, but it amazes me sometimes to see the honesty behind some of your answers – and even certain non-answers, like that about how close you were to God at the moment you were responding to the question as posed. You made it clear that there was no real consistency in your closeness to God, and that you tended to run in and out of His presence as you needed Him or felt otherwise. I think most of us are like this, in fact, but very few of us would admit it to the wider world, or even to ourselves.

Of course, the goal of such an admission is to lead you to try and improve the situation; to make a more determined effort to stay with Him rather than running back off as soon as you received your reassuring hug from God. I do wonder if, were you to have found this book again five years after writing in it, whether you would think you had improved or not.

Not that I have any right to judge; it’s not even a question that I’ve considered for myself. Indeed, I’m not even sure that I run to Him for reassurance, so even then, you were probably ahead of me. While I might not be so concerned about having control of my situation, I probably fall down even now when it comes to trust.

So, to that end, honey, wish me luck, and Lord, grant me strength. I need them both.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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