It’s hard to believe that that’s what He really wants. This book I’ve been reading by Bill Johnson is threatening to revolutionize how I read Scripture. It’s sad, but I still read most parts of Scripture through the lens of what other people believe. “God’s love” really means (to me) that God puts up with me even though I’m annoying and constantly disappointing. Where did I learn that? It’s not in Scripture. But it’s what I hear in my head when I read of God’s love. Someone somewhere influenced me to believe that.
I know this is true because it’s the people who live a particular Scriptural truth that now influence the way I understand God. Someone walks in a deeper understanding of grace will influence me to understand what Scripture means about grace. Witnessing was always a scary proposition because I had to go up to someone I didn’t know and attempt to tell them that I know better than they what they need. And once I let the cat out of the bag that I’m a Christian, they’d just knowingly nod in that “now I know exactly what’s wrong with you” kind of way and they feel justified walking away. After all, a Christian who witnesses is really just an overbearing, judgmental prick, right?
I think it all began with the Spread the Fire Conference held at the DFW International Airport Hyatt Hotel back in 1998 (give or take a year). I heard two people speak who challenged the way I see God: Joseph Garlington and Mike Bickle. Joseph was just plain funny and interesting. I was enraptured by the way he depicted God as a Papa who loves to bounce his kids on his knee and blow on their bellies. The expression of love and joy caught me off guard.
Then there was Mike Bickle. He talked of romance. Of the beloved. Of the Bride. Of this divine romance between the Son of God and us. Something in the way he went on and on about the beauty and majesty of God hooked into my brain and refused to let go. This was something ENTIRELY NEW. Romance? With God? Love like a sonnet? Love that REALLY motivates me? Passion for a person that I can REALLY know in this life? Do what?
Along the way there was John Paul Jackson. He wasn’t the same as Bickle, but he brought another piece of the puzzle. John Paul was enthralled by the glory and the mysteries of God. He would speak of the “more than we can ask, think, or imagine” in such a way as to inspire me to dream again of things that seem impossible. He also began for me the process of seeing prophecy as something we should all earnestly desire to use.
Then a few years went by. The words of these few men haunted me, as I continued my lackluster existence into college. Then one day, some years later, there was Gary Wiens. I have no idea where I heard him speak, but he was in love. Like Mike Bickle, he talked of being ravished with love for the Son of God. It was such a new concept to me, but it struck a deep, primal chord. That feeling you get when somebody says something you know applies to your life but you don’t know how you know or why or what to do with it.
Of course, then I read Wiens’ book, Come to Papa, which just totally threatened to unravel my understanding of Jesus. When I read of the prodigal son and God’s fatherly love, I felt a quickening and an excitement that told me I was on the right path.
And then there is Jack Deere. His book, Surprised by the Voice of God spoke volumes into my young Christian life back in 1997-98. It was a pivotal point in my young faith because it helped me to understand how a man approaches things he doesn’t understand but that appear in the Word of God.
Little did I know that I’d be a member of Jack Deere’s church some ten years later and listening to him revolutionize my understanding of friendship with God. When I hear about how Jack tell of his love for his friends and of his sheer enjoyment of their presence, I glimpse a truth that still makes me wince because it talks of a possible reality I desperately wish to be true but have yet to experience.
And now there is this book by Bill Johnson called The Supernatural Ways of Royalty. In this book, Johnson whets my appetite for friendship with God yet again. Not some friendship that is summarized by the daily duties I perform. But friendship that comes from a Supreme Being who happens to want to know my opinion on things. He actually wants to consult with me. He wants me to love Him deeply and treasure His friendship, and then He wants to give me things according to my will. Not just His will.
My mind is still rushing to catch up to all of it. I’m not painting the picture fully, so don’t brush it aside until you’ve read the book. I’m just showing part of the progression that’s led me from salvation in 1996 to my quest for friendship with the Son of God in 2009. I don’t want to talk about friendship and REALLY be talking about my half hour Bible study. I don’t want to refer to “prayer” as my relationship either. Prayer is such a dated and irrelevant word to me. It makes conversation with God something “other” than just conversation. Prayer, to me, is one-sided. It’s a petition. It’s supplication. Whatever.
I want to be like Abraham, Moses, and David. I want Jesus to talk to me like a friend. I want Him to ask me what I like. I want Him to share with me what HE enjoys about His own creation. I want to hear His burden for the lost. I want to walk with him like Enoch did. I want Him to confide in me because He trusts me.
I want it all. I’m not willing to pummel myself in false humility while I pretend to be nothing special. God made me for greatness, and He made me to be His friend. That’s what I hope. That’s what I’m starting to believe. That’s what I need to see grow into a vibrant, larger than life reality.
That is what I wish for, Father. I want to be Your friend. But I need help getting from here to there. Renew my mind so that I can understand who I am in Christ, so that I may approach You, address You, and listen to You more freely than I do right now.