Living In the Squeeze (#587)

How do we reconcile the love of the Father and the bone-crushing trials that life throws at us? With some listener input, Brad and Wayne revisit last week's topic, Desperation and Hope, and offer some more insight about navigating our difficulties, not by denying the reality of our circumstances, but embracing the hope of God-with-us regardless of whatever we're facing. Embracing the uniqueness of each of our journeys and what God is doing through us, doesn't leave us with a settle of principles to apply, but a presence to comfort us and a voice to lead us as God meets us in our pain and walks with us through it.

Podcast Notes:
Christianity Today Article: A Walking Disaster
Wayne's Upcoming Trip to South Africa
You can find our latest update on our work in Kenya here.
Add your voice to our question/comment line via Skype at "TheGodJourney"

29 Comments

  1. I wonder it the evidence of my growth on this journey is this… that I am learning less from listening to these podcasts and getting more of confirmation about what I already have learned and seen applied in my life and on this journey. A lot of what is coming in my ears these days is resonating with where God has already moved and worked in my life. A lot less “Wow” and a lot more “Yeah.. I get it.”

    Thank you for being that voice of confirmation.

    Ruby from Calmar.

    • Good words, Ruby

      Maybe we won’t see evidence as we expect it. One of the hallmarks of my journey is how strikingly foreign everything has been for me. Nothing about it is even close to what I might have expected. I just knew for myself that it was real, so I started sharing bits and pieces of my story with people, in hopes that they would share theirs.

      So far, I have been unable to evaluate my spiritual state. It is very difficult to measure something so personal when you have no frame of reference.

      So, like you, I also get confirmation from other’s stories. Andrew’s story a few weeks ago had so many elements that were just familiar to me, in a journey that is foreign. Somehow, I could see God being like that. Why would a life of trust be anything other than nebulous? How do we recognize the evidence of things unseen?

      P.S. Is that Calmar, Alberta?

      • Sorry..
        Ruby from Calmar, Alberta, Canada, North America… How’s that for detailed.
        There is a Calmar in Iowa.. but I’m not from there…

        • Thanks, Ruby

          I have friends there. We moved from Edmonton to Salem, Oregon in 2005. It’s good to know that God’s breaking through there also.

    • Ruby, thanks for your comment. I hope it’s evidence of growth, if not Brad and I are on a squirrelly road. 🙂 I love hearing about the trajectory of people’s lives as they become more settled in an affection-based journey with God. First, it seems they think people who talk like us are nuts at best, or heretics at worse. Then, some begin to resonate with what they hear and open to the possibility in their own heart. Soon we’re simply putting words to what the Spirit is already showing them, much like the confirmation you’re talking about. Then people settle into living this journey and don’t check in with the podcast as often because they are living these realities in their own life and conversations. I love that. Of course, some hang on still just because they are curious what Brad and I might say about what’s going on in our own lives.

      I see these same dynamics when I meet with people over a few days. They seem to go from wanting the validation, to trusting the Spirit within them, to getting on with following Christ with hardly a second thought of what Wayne might be up to. Love that! This really is a journey Jesus wants to embrace with all of us, not something people have to vicariously live through Brad and me.

      I would hope this is true for everyone!

      • Wayne:

        You’re not on a squirrely road. I get that there are still people who need to listen to get direction and those who get their direction and go on their way…. and there are those, like me, who still listen because you provide us company on the journey… and some of us still enjoy that. It also gives me something else to listen to other than the radio.

        I have the audio version of He Loves Me joining me on my daily commute to work now, because I gave my copy to a new friend and I want to revisit what she is going to read for the first time. I am remembering what you said about finding someone to walk along side of on this journey… I have found such a person this year and it is awesome. I send her in the direction of the Shack Movie first and she was so moved that it opened up a growing dialogue between us. So I gave her “He Loves Me”

        We found each other in the aftermath of my nephew’s tragic death. God does take tragedy and bring incredible good from it… I am seeing that unfolding and it is beautiful.

        Ruby from Calmar, Alberta

  2. I lean toward Wayne’s view of faith as trust. I would like to have the relationship with God you talk about Brad, but I realize the chasm between my sinfulness, and His perfection. He generally makes Himself known to me most clearly in my weakness, or un-faith.

    • Ron, I used to feel that way about Father, but that all changed for me when he showed me that he actually IS a loving Father in every respect. As a father myself, I would love it if my children would come and chat with me even after they have done wicked and naughty things! The last thing I would want as a father is if my kids are to afraid/embarrassed/guilty to come and chat with me! That leaves it my responsibility to show them that I love them regardless of what they do, and that they can always come and talk through their issues with me.
      They still have the natural result of bad behavior to deal with, but that is a natural result of their actions, not me punishing them! One of my biggest goals in life is to get them to see that!

      I feel that Father is the same.

      Been thinking a lot about the trust and faith thing, in light of parent child relationships, trying to remove the religion taint from it. I think faith and trust could be interchangeable, but I lean toward trusting Father that he is good, and that he loves me no matter what, rather than I have faith in him. Might just be my strict religious upbringing, but the term faith does have a distinct religious smell about it for me!

      • Thanks for your reply David. If you saw The Shack, and how Mack related to the character of Jesus, versus the character of God, that is sort of how my relationship goes as well. I can relate to the son better than I can relate to the father, even though I know they are one and the same! A lot of that has to do with my relationship with my earthly father. Although I did not murder my father as Mack did, he was abusive as Mack’s father was. Only through my father’s death have I been able to separate myself and become my own person. I was never celebrated for who I was in my father’s eyes, only who he wanted me to be. I suspect God is not like that, but I am still in the process of embracing the relationship, as I learn to allow God to embrace me in all my sinfulness. Something my earthly father was unable to do.

  3. Having suffered chronic illness (autoimmune disease) for the best part of 20 years with the last 10 being unemployable (adding financial distress to an already distressful life experience) I feel deeply for those who, like myself, due to issues re-health or wealth easily find themselves feeling marginalised or diminished in value both in Gods eyes and the Christian communities eyes due to destructive teachings which try to establish that under the new covenant some form of “blessings or cursings” (God’s favour or disfavour) applies to God’s adopted beloved children. Particularly as those propagating the health and wealth (so-called prosperity gospel) establish that suffering illness or financial woes proves Gods disfavour – which is not only contrary to the bulk of new testament writings which describe how God more often than not establishes and even proves our ‘trust and love’ with him within a wide range of types of suffering in this life, but such teaching also causes God’s kids to marginalised/withdraw from brethren suffering – something that is clearly contrary to Jesus parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25 – where our reaching out to brethren suffering is equated by Jesus to “you did it to me”. Ironically, such teachings would also clearly establish that Paul of Tarsus spent most of his life in Gods disfavour rather than in his favour/grace!
    I feel to share two things which stand out as having made a tremendous difference to my ability to live in a robust relationship with Jesus (and others) where my trust or confidence of his goodness grows despite the very real distress that often comes from suffering problems in ‘health and wealth’.
    First, the age-old choice of outlook on life: the ‘half glass empty’ versus the ‘half glass full’ perspectives. The ‘half glass empty’ approach essentially is all about a dissatisfied/discontented “nothing is ever good enough”, “I deserve better” et cetera outlook which leads to finding fault in everything (e.g. life) and everyone (especially God) for not fulfilling some form of idealistic/utopian mostly unattainable fantasy re-health wealth and happiness in this life – which naturally bears the fruit of being discontent, ungrateful, believing your unloved, angry, resentful, offended, being manipulative, throwing tantrums, being offensive, wallowing in self-pity, depression et cetera – in short, just plain being ‘offside’ with the whole ‘world’, particularly God, subsequently destroying your peace and joy over being a part of his coming kingdom family. The ‘half glass full’ approach recognises, comparatively speaking, how bad things really can be in this life and looks to Jesus to help find both contentment and gratitude in the midst of our circumstances – recognising that his coming kingdom is as close to each one of us as either his coming or our own deathbed. On most days, especially the bad days weeks months, I find myself engaging Jesus for his help in maintaining the peace and joy of knowing him and the anticipation of his coming kingdom family – and ironically, it appears he achieves this more often than not primarily through helping me to recognise and reject the evil ones attempts to have me view life through the ‘half glass empty’ glasses!
    The second thing is something so obvious that it’s stunning that we miss it! Throughout history, whenever the basics of water, food and environment are ‘uncontaminated’ virtually all illnesses/ diseases plummet. Recognition, particularly in the face of the explosion of autoimmune related diseases/disorders of how these three simple things either contribute positively or negatively to the functioning of your cells/bodies (with it’s myriad of functions) and your micro biome and the symbiotic relationship between the two is currently empowering individuals worldwide to do something constructive about their own health, even effecting slowing, reversing and sometimes full recovery from many of these conditions. This research and my own changes in these three key areas (including recognition that many pharmaceuticals hinder both the micro biome and cell function) being encouraged by brothers such as Dr Josh Axe’s website and his book “Eat Dirt” plus others such as Dr Tom O’Brien’s work bringing together the latest research not only on autoimmune based disorders but also the connection to many other diseases due to our messing up these three basic areas, particularly in first world industrialised nations, is producing the next best thing to a miraculous recovery – though I have no doubt it was the Lord himself who led me to these things and is gifting the wisdom to act on what I am learning.

  4. About 10 years ago I heard Ravi Zacharias answer a Q & A at the end of his talk at The College of William & Mary. Someone asked, “What would you ask God when you see Him face to face?” He answered, “Why did you make it so hard to know you?” I have never forgotten his answer, and find it is more relevant in my life than ever before.

    In trying to know God and somehow find the right frequency to tune into his voice, has been like finding a needle in a haystack. For someone who supposedly wants to make himself known in a personal and intimate way, I find His ways of revealing himself to me extremely frustrating. And the typical ways that many others insist I find God (read my bible, devotions, ask this way or that, be quiet and listen, are seeking god with ‘all your heart’, etc…) so far have seemed like dead ends. I am not able to put more effort to these ‘disciplines’ thinking that if I press enough, he will respond in some mysterious way because of my efforts to show Him I am sincere, and I really mean it. I think knowing Him has to be some how far simpler than any of this stuff.

    Living in the squeeze of the last almost two years, I have found that I do not have the energy or desire to seek more, press in more, look more, listen more, and whatever else well-meaning people advise me to do. I find insistence of these things in what I need to do to find God, fill me with guilt, exhaustion, and feeling that I am not doing enough to somehow prompt God to show up. In my depleted state, all I seem able to do is exist at whatever rhythm I am at, and maybe somehow God will reveal himself to me in such an intimate and real way that it becomes unmistakable. I have too many times believed “it is god’s will” and “god told me…”, and other sentiments like this, only to find that as life played out, my antenna was picking up some other signal that wasn’t God. I don’t want to live in that place anymore; I find it dangerous and frustrating.

    • I relate very much to your sentiments, Jim. Seems our only hope is the Transfiguration.

      Many have resigned themselves to a destination of Hell, and live like Hell in the process. I remember a story Wayne relayed about people he knew that lived hedonistic lifestyles, then got ‘saved’, while at the same time Wayne was living the straight life. If ever there was an argument against performance-based religion, these people were prime examples.

      Your honesty about your struggles tells me you may be closer to knowing God than you think. Something a prominent pastor I used to follow said that resonates with me to this day is, its OK to be angry at God, and express it. He can handle your anger. Be as honest with God as you are honest with your sharings here. You are bound to get a response that is beyond doubt.

      Here’s an link to an article on the topic…hope it helps….

      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/joeljmiller/2013/06/god-can-handle-your-anger-and-your-confusion-fear-and-doubt-too/

      • Maybe you’re right – I’m closer to knowing God than I think…who knows?! I don’t think I am having much trouble being honest with God right now…or maybe just to myself…or with the walls?! Thanks for your encouragement, Ron. I hope you’re right about getting a response beyond doubt; but my cynical bitter self thinks there is no way anyone can be sure if this. I really do wonder if these revelations are just for some people, but not all…I really don’t know!?

        • If you are expecting a burning bush or a flash of light, you are probably correct…most people don’t get those signs as revelations. Mainly we hear them from a still, small voice. We can look around at God’s creation and see God in it, as the author of it, and conclude that is one of His ways of speaking to us. The practice of prayer (talking to God) and meditation (God’s response to us) may bring you closer to His presence, but the key is in His timing, which is not ours.

          I don’t claim to be an expert on ‘God moments’, nor do I claim to have many of them, for what I stated a bove…the chasm between my sinfulness and God’s perfection is just too great. That is why I believe God sent His son Jesus to Earth. We couldn’t handle the presence of God in all His glory. I have become comfortable with that fact, without being comfortable with my sin. That I struggle with every day. God doesn’t want us to remain in our sin, to revel in it, He wants to redeem us from it, but it is a process, not an event. And that is why I think you are closer to a God journey than you think. The day you yourself realize you are on one, will be a great day indeed. I will certainly keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

          • What i have told others I want, but have no hope for, is for jesus to show up in physical form and wrap his arms around me like a little child, and literally live with me for the rest of my days on Earth, and then beyond. However, that will never happen. So, I don’t know what i am expecting anymore. What I want certainly isn’t going to happen, so I don’t know what I expect anymore. Actually, I think most of my expectations have died; which may be a good thing…I don’t know.

          • Jim, I get why any of us would want this, but as I read your post, I thought that Jesus didn’t even do that kind of thing when he was here in the flesh. We don’t know that he ever wrapped his arms around anyone, and he didn’t stay with them in the flesh for the rest of their days. In fact, he told them it was better for THEM that he went away and then he could send the Spirit to live in all of us. As I said earlier, I’m not always sure why that is better, but when I see people come alive in him, and learn to live with that transforming presence inside, however much it is like looking through a fogged-up mirror, the glory of all that is pretty profound, Perhaps as great as it can be in an age still marred by human brokenness. I love the journey of beholding him in whatever way he dares to make himself known to me today or to people around me. I’ve found myself more grateful at the slightest inkling, instead of frustrated that it isn’t in the form I hoped for. But that has been a long time coming…

      • Can you imagine the arrogance of someone who could Facebook a burning bush or a moment of transfiguration? We have enough problems with pride creeping in on far less things. Could you imagine how unhelpful we would be to other people if we all had an inside track to such miraculous encounters? I see some o that already in those who think they do, and think they have the God-given responsibility to tell others what they should do. God may have something like that in mind here…

        • I think we would fall over dead from the excitement for sure. Give me a low hurdle over a skyscraper any day.

        • I have thought about this as well – what if social media was around when Jesus was here? I can totally see us posting one of these moments, and the consequence for those who see this as they are surfing around checking out their FB friends. Not Good!

          • As we are talking about this I thought about Jesus’ being tempted by Satan to perform miracles. He easily could have, but instead countered with practical advice, primarily, not to tempt God as Satan was tempting Him. It speaks volumes that miracles were not the lynchpin of Jesus’ ministry.

  5. Much confusion has been made by usage of the term “voice” when describing communication from the Father. We beat our breasts in rituals and perform flagellations in order to hear a voice that is not coming…the language of the Father is love. Love is not propositional language…it’s intuitional. There is no voice. There are only inward pressure changes and mild compulsions brought from love that move us towards where love is leading. From my experience, there never has been answers (although at times I would become so suggestive that I would make my voice into his), but only gentle leadings. Love doesn’t answer the question, “what do I do?” Love leads like light draws a moth.

    • Ahh, but there can be a voice. I don’t think this is either/or, but both/and. God touches us in so many ways. It doesn’t have to be a voice, I agree there. And the voice is love itself, I like that too. But I’ve had very specific insights that have guided my journey that I deeply appreciate. I realize he doesn’t do this the same way for everyone, and I’m glad of that. None of us certainly has his favor more than another, but the more we relax and let God commune with us the way he desires, instead of the way I want, it’s easier to recognize his nudges whether it be in words, nudges, love for others, or simply an inner knowing of what he desires. I don’t think God does this in the most difficult way, but the easiest, though I’ll admit from our perspective it rarely seems so. But why would he do it any differently? For reasons we can’t see and don’t know, God reveals himself as befits what’s best for all of his kids. I’ve heard too many stories from people all over the world to believe otherwise… It’s a process, to be sure, that takes many years, but the fruits of hanging in there with him are well worth the process.

  6. Hey Jim, I relate with your frustration as many years ago I found myself struggling within the same dilemma. While there were many things which contributed to drawing me into the place of confidence I have at this stage in my journey that “Christ in us” is not only ‘communicating’ with me, but I am also confident that much of the time I am actually ‘hearing’ what he is ‘saying’ – what I think did the most to release me into this place of confidence was my being challenged by the Lord (something I only recognised in hindsight) as to how far his goodness extends re-the work he does to win us into trusting him. And not just those he has already received and adopted as sons and daughters, but also those not yet won into trusting him as their heavenly dad.
    As I was 16 years old when he won me into trust, I was able to recognise that as far back as I can remember i.e. prior to my adoption, God had always been speaking to me in my heart to encourage me to trust him and to encourage me to desire to walk in his ways in this life – and I seemed to always recognise that being able to trust him would always come at the expense of trusting the wicked one speaking in my heart and of walking in his ways in this life.
    This has always been so clear to me that at times, I confidently tell people who aren’t yet ready to turn to him and trust him as their dad, that when they stand before him, they will all find themselves able to say to him “I know you, you’ve always been in my life and you have always been speaking in my heart and trying to help me trust you!”
    In short, I gained a confidence that God is deeply personally committed to every individual and therefore he is always communicating, not just to me only, but also to every other person born into this world. From that point on, I realised it wasn’t a matter of whether or not God was communicating with me (I became completely convinced he already was) rather, I realised it was more a matter of him teaching me to discern between what was of myself, what was of the wicked one and what was of him. And developing that discernment, as Wayne says, is a process that takes many years, but the fruits of hanging in there with him are very well worth the process.

    • Ken, I sometimes wonder if God is always speaking into my life and I just don’t recognize it. Maybe discernment has more to do with this (recognizing what is God, self, fear, etc..) than discerning the character and motivation of others.
      However, if that is true – and hear is my doubt – why does this whole process have to take so long to figure out? Why do I/we have to stumble blindly through most of our lives wrecking self and others before we get it? Why must there be so much pain and heartache that is created in my/our blind and self-righteous dangerous arrogance before the light turns on? I do not know why this long process has to be this way? Isn’t there some other way to make himself know in an intimate way than this long, tedious, often painful and dangerous process that takes years? I am not looking for answers – unless you think you got one; I am more just sharing my doubts and questions in a rhetorical way?

      • Jim, like Wayne, I don’t think I have an answer so to speak here either – however, some 40 years ago I came out of a Bible-based cult and it was over 14 years later that I started finding my feet re-confidence of what was of God and what wasn’t of God in regards to his salvation in and through Jesus. In hindsight, there were some things that clearly helped me in that journey such as having a confidence in key issues such as the basis of my relationship with God, his purpose for me in this life and what all that looks like in community. As a result of establishing knowledge of those things, I became confident that God was always going to be speaking towards certain ends and subsequent to that, I also gained a confidence that the deceiver would always be working to undermine those things.
        While ‘knowledge’ in these same three areas can certainly contribute to your ‘discernment’, the last 2000 years of the Christian religion tells us that it can also work just as effectively to rob you of discernment – unless of course we recognise that the ‘knowledge’ which is of God always draws us to Jesus himself who is, through our friendship with him, our only true ‘source’ of discernment in this life. And we know that the wicked one’s number one strategy in relation to our having ‘discernment’ is to keep us from turning to Jesus throughout our day and conversing with him about what is going on in our hearts – and ironically, it is no doubt his ability to deceive us to turn to and trust ‘knowledge’ for peace and assurance rather than Jesus himself that has become his greatest means to cripple God’s kids ability to function as family in community.
        However, certain ‘knowledge’ most certainly helps with discernment as to whether you are hearing from God and you are working with him, or that the deceiver has misdirected you and you are finding yourself totally confused or worse, trusting that the rubbish he is telling you is ‘of God’ despite the ‘bad fruit’ proving it isn’t. For example, when our ‘knowledge’ re-the basis of our relationship with God establishes that God uses ‘adoption’ (received through trust) to take his kids completely out from under the ‘law sin and death’ equation so that we stand under the ‘grace (gifted favour), faith (trust/confidence) and life’ equation – which is the basis of our peace and assurance and the oneness/bond we have with each other – we can be confident that God and those working with him will always work to establish that truth in your heart. We can also be confident that the wicked one will work hard to have God’s kids believe that they are still under the ‘law sin and death’ equation, which if you open your heart to that, it will completely cripple your relationship with God (and each other) by taking you out of a relationship with God where you are dealing with him as your dad: producing a childlike trust and love of him, back into dealing with God as your judge: producing doubt and fear of him.
        I could go on, but this post is already getting too long and I have no doubt you get where I’m heading – besides, I would only be going over what Wayne’s material/books already do a great job at: which is pointing out the type of ‘knowledge’ (in the same three areas) I am referring to in a way which is a great help in both affirming that not only does God communicate to you (love you) no less than he does anyone else, but that you can build a confidence in what ways he will always be speaking to you, and also build a confidence in what ways he will never be speaking to you….

    • Jim, I don’t have an answer for you really. But I used to be troubled by a similar set of questions in my own journey. Here’s how I think of those things as I read your post today: As I grow increasingly confident of Father’s amazing love for all of us, I’m sure if there were an easier, quicker way to bring us into that reality, he would use it. I don’t think he has any desire to make it any tougher than it has to be. I just think he wants it to be real and transformative and for some reason he is not rushing to get it to an endpoint. He has our whole lives to win us into his reality. Perhaps that connection between Creator and created is not best being as direct as I used to hope it would be. I do think he’s doing it in the best possible way, but I couldn’t begin to explain to you why this is best. The words of a young pre-med student in New Zealand rings in my ears at times like this: “The reason this may seem so difficult for us is because it is simpler than we dare to believe.” Something about that resonates with me, deeply. But finding our way to simple is quite a journey! And I applaud the courage and passion of those who take it even though the fixes aren’t quick.

      • “A simple quite journey” resonates with me. And so does, “I do think he’s doing it in the best possible way, but I couldn’t begin to explain to you why this is best.” Thank you for your transparency about not knowing why this is best. I have no clue either; and it seems way to messy for me, filled with too much pain and confusion. I do not have that kind of trust to believe that it is the best possible way – not right now anyway. Two years ago I thought I had this kind of trust; not anymore. Thanks for your thoughts, Wayne. Good to hear that you and others (Ken, Ron) have had similar thoughts/struggles/questions.

  7. Found a book on the remainder shelf entitled something like “Sometimes He Whispers Sometimes He Roars.” I didn’t agree with everything M Chadwick had to say, but the title certainly resonated with me. I was reminded that John in Revelation expected to see the Lion Of Judah, but instead saw the Lamb that was slain before the world began. God surprises me!

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