Tag Archives: healthy relationships

Why God Doesn’t Always Rescue Us

“We’re working harder to help her than she is,” my wife commented to me last Tuesday. After nearly pulling out what little hair I have left on my head, I was about ready to scream. The push and pull of raising teenage daughters could drive anybody nuts.

Sometimes I wish I could crawl inside my daughter’s head to convince her that I’m trying to help when I push her to turn in her homework on time. Or tell the truth. Or practice her cello. But this week I reached the end of my rope. I couldn’t “make” her do any of the above.

Later that night, I experienced one of those “aha” moments that occur only a handful of times in a person’s lifetime. Quite honestly, it was a spiritual experience.

Rather than bail out my daughter from her self-inflicted problems, I realized that I need to let her experience the consequences of her choices. If she chooses to flunk out of the 8th grade, she can go to summer school—but she’ll have to work for me to pay off the additional fee for summer classes. If she chooses not to practice her cello—when I pay $50 per lesson—then she’s choosing not to play the cello. Canceling her lessons was is easy as a phone call. Suddenly, I recognized that I was part of the problem. I was becoming the co-dependent parent. By rescuing her, I was preventing her from growing up and becoming a healthy, functioning adult.

Then the thought hit me like a ton of bricks. God isn’t co-dependent. That’s why he lets us fall. That’s why he so often doesn’t rescue us. If he did, he would be reinforcing co-dependent behavior. We’d expect him to bail us out and we wouldn’t grow.

How often do we mess up our lives and then blame God when he doesn’t rescue us? After a neighbor died of a drug overdose, the deceased’s grief-stricken step-father asked me, “Why did God let this happen?” He didn’t; his son made a fatal choice.

This brings to mind the fact that God’s perspective on pain is different than ours. Pain is a great motivator. C.S. Lewis once wrote, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Sometimes pain is the better option than our deliverance from it, and rescuing us may at times be the worst thing for us.

So last Tuesday evening, after trying everything within my power to “make” my daughter practice her cello, I calmly walked into her room and told her, “Tonight I’m going to give you a choice. If you choose not to practice for your lesson tomorrow, I’m going to take that as your decision to quit the cello. I want you to play. You have the musical ability. But that’s your choice. I’m happy to call your teacher and cancel your lessons. But you’ll have to reimburse me for the $100 for the last two lessons of the month.”

I turned around and walked downstairs to my office. Within 5 minutes, the most beautiful cello music I had ever heard began emanating from her bedroom.

God isn’t co-dependent, I told myself as I soaked in the music.

But lest we assume God lacks any compassion, the fact is, he has rescued us. He threw us a lifeline when he sent Jesus to earth. He’s given us the Holy Spirit to comfort us in our pain. We aren’t alone.

God loves us and he wants us to be healthy–in our relationship with him and with others.

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The Key To Healthy, Lasting Relationships

“Tell me about your relationship,” I asked the engaged couple.

“Oh, I’ve never experienced anything like this,” the man answered. “We do everything together,” his lovely fiancée chimed in, nodding her head.

“That’s nice,” I replied. “Tell me about your fights.”

“We never fight,” the couple beamed in unison.

“Then you aren’t ready to get married,” I explained.

Please join us in our daily Bible conversation as we look at the key to healthy, lasting relationships.

TODAY’S READING

Ezekiel 31:1-32:32
Hebrews 12:14-29
Psalm 113:1-114:8
Proverbs 27:18-20

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

Psalm 113:1-114:8. A friend of mine said this week, “The Bible is a book about God.” Elementary stuff. But then she continued, “That seems to go without saying, but all too often we come to Scripture and make it about us. We look for application and relevance when we should begin with the understanding that the Bible is about God and his glory.” Psalm 113 is a great reminder that all of life is about God. Verses 4-5 tell us, “The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high.”

Proverbs 27:18-20. Verse 20 is a little difficult to understand. Here’s how The Message paraphrases it: “Hell has a voracious appetite, and lust just never quits.”

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THE WORD MADE FRESH

For much of my life, I believed that peace in my relationships meant the absence of conflict. My first conflict with my wife occurred the day before our wedding. By the third day of our honeymoon, we were fighting like cats and dogs. I was in shock.

Earlier in my life, when someone offended me or took advantage of me, I said nothing. Of course, the molten lava simmered inside until I eventually erupted, making a mess of everything. After the event, I felt much better, but the other person was practically a burn victim as a result of the explosion. In the end, my initial efforts at burying my feelings undermined my relationships.

The writer of Hebrews tells us, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:14-29).

The writer uses a word that defines the Jewish faith: peace. Although the book of Hebrews is written in the Greek language, the writer was addressing Jewish people, hence the name “Hebrews.” In their minds, the readers were thinking of the Hebrew word for peace—Shalom—as well as the Hebrew understanding of the word.

Incidentally, the common greeting in the Middle East is Shalom. Arabs greet each other with the word Salom. Same meaning, different spelling.

Most people assume that peace in a relationship means the absence of conflict. Quite the contrary. The Jewish understanding of peace (then and now) means wholeness and well-being—with the possibility that conflict may be needed in order to attain it. It means pursuing what is best for the relationship, which can include conflict, being honest so you can prevent volcanic eruptions in the future.

That’s why Paul can write in Ephesians 4:15, “Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” Speaking the truth in love is prevents eruptions.

The writer begins by saying, “make every effort.” That phrase is better translated “pursue peace.” The obligation for healthy and whole relationships never resides with the other person, it resides with us. Healthy relationships thrive when both parties pursue peace.

But notice that the second part of the command in Hebrews says, “Without holiness no one will see the Lord.” What does holiness have to do with healthy relationships? Everything.

Our relationships with each other ultimately affect our relationship with God. When we’re at odds with another person, we often do things we wouldn’t do otherwise. We respond to them with passive aggression or even with aggression. We murmur and gossip. Unhealthy relationships have a tendency to spread into our other relationships. That’s why the following sentence tells us, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

Ultimately, our unhealthy relationships spread to our relationship with God.

Healthy relationships don’t happen on their own. We must pursue them. We must be willing to engage in difficult conversations. We must be willing to own our issues and confess our sins.

But in the end, through our conflict, we will enjoy the fruit of shalom.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. What relationships in your life resemble a simmering volcano?
  3. What relationships in your life resemble the Jewish understanding of shalom?
  4. How does God portray shalom in his relationship with you?
  5. What does it mean for you to live in shalom?

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www.bibleconversation.com

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.

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