Go Deeper in Your Relationship with God
- Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2008 3 Mar
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Debbie Alsdorf's book, Deeper: Living in the Reality of God's Love, (Revell).
You can say all the right things, do all the right things, and yet still not experience the deep relationship God wants you to have with Him. You can appear to have the perfect Christian life, but not be connecting much with God.
When you learn to live in the reality of God's love, however, you can go deeper in your relationship with Him than you'd ever imagined. Here's how:
Look beyond what you can see to a deeper reality. Instead of basing your decisions just on your current circumstances, make choices that reflect the reality that God loves you and wants the best for you. Make a habit of seeking His guidance and living according to His priorities. Remember that you were meant to live for much more than yourself. Pursue God's purposes for your life with passion.
Define yourself accurately. What defines you will eventually drive you through life, compelling you to make certain choices and go in a particular direction. So, to head in the right direction, get rid of wrong definitions of yourself: ones that are based on what you do or don't accomplish, the opinions of others, or by self-defeating lies you tell yourself. Reject cultural pressure to define yourself based on your appearance, accomplishments, or possessions - which will always leave you feeling that you're not good enough. Instead, seek to learn the truth about who you are, what passions you have, and what purposes you should be living for. Embrace your true identity through Jesus as God's beloved child. Know that, from God's perspective, you have incredible value. Your value has been secured by Jesus and isn't dependent on your abilities or whether or not other people accept you.
Come out of hiding. God knows everything about you - including all your sins and weaknesses - and loves you anyway. Decide to stop trying to control your life and withholding your trust from God. Commit every part of your life to Him so you can experience positive transformation and freedom.
Focus on who you are rather than what you do. The many roles you fill in life (as a spouse, parent, friend, employee, volunteer, etc.), while important, don't represent who you are as a person. Instead of basing your identity on roles that can change, base it on God's love for you, which will never change. Place your confidence in who you are (someone created by God) and whose you are (someone who belongs to God).
Immerse yourself in Scripture. Every day, make time to read, study, and meditate on some passages from the Bible. Absorb Scripture deep into your soul, where its truths will transform you. When you make decisions, look to biblical principles (rather than just your own feelings) for guidance.
Learn from your history. Reflect on important moments and events in your life so far, and take notes on some important ways God was at work through them. Think and pray about what God wants you to learn from how He has used your life's circumstances to draw you closer to Him. Thank Him for all He has done for you, and trust Him to continue to help you now and in the future.
Trust in God's protection. Every fear you hold onto blocks you from experiencing a close relationship with God, because it undermines the trust on which a close relationship is based. Recognize that, while you're bound to encounter pain because you're living in a fallen world, God is always with you in the midst of that pain, and all pain that He allows to come into your life will ultimately accomplish a good purpose of some kind. Place your trust in God to protect you from evil and always act according to what's best for you. Pray about all of your hard questions about the pain you've gone through, knowing that He cares, and that nothing can ever separate you from His love.
Trust in God's plans. When God created you, He ordained good plans for your life. You're not a mistake; He created you for a specific purpose. Recognize that your life is part of a much bigger picture than you can see from your limited perspective - but God can see the bigger picture and He wants to lead you in the right direction.
Replace unhealthy thoughts with healthy ones. Whenever a negative thought that doesn't reflect biblical truth enters your mind, refuse to dwell on it. Instead, replace the thought with a positive one from the Bible. To become more aware of the unhealthy thoughts that pass through your mind, write down some of your negative thoughts (like hopelessness, hate, fear, bitterness, or jealousy) in a notebook to keep track of them. Then read passages of Scripture with positive thoughts that contrast with those negative thoughts.
Choose a new direction. Even though you can't control what happens to you, you can control two crucial things: your attitude, and the direction you take in life. Trust that God allows certain circumstances to happen to you so that something good can happen in you. Rather than letting the challenges you encounter defeat you, be thankful that God is with you in the midst of them, leading you in the right direction. Follow His guidance, even when you don't understand it, because with Him you'll end up in a better place than you ever could on your own.
Depend on the Holy Spirit. Instead of relying on your own limited strength to live faithfully, rely on the unlimited power available to you through the Holy Spirit. Pray daily for the Holy Spirit to fill your soul and empower you to live in ways that please God. Whenever you're confronted with a challenge, depend on the Spirit's power working in you to respond according to truth rather than just reacting according to your feelings.
Become an everyday vessel. Every day you're alive is a gift to be cherished and lived fully. Decide to make each day count as much as possible by inviting God to use you as a vessel through which to pour out His love into the lives of other people. Make a daily habit of inviting God to search your soul, bring to mind sins you need to confess and repent of, cleanse you, fill you with His Spirit, and use you in ways that bring glory to Him and bless other people. Wherever you go, seek to leave behind handprints of love. Revel in the joy of knowing that, as you respond to God's love for you by sharing that love with others, your service has eternal significance.
Adapted from Deeper: Living in the Reality of God's Love, copyright Debbie Alsdorf. Published by Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.revellbooks.com.
Debbie Alsdorf, a popular speaker and author, is the director of women's ministries at Cornerstone Fellowship in Livermore, California. Debbie's weekly Bible studies are attended by hundreds of women who are eager to discover how to deepen their walk with God. As the founder of Design4Living Ministries, Debbie also leads conferences and retreats that equip and encourage women in their faith. She and her husband Ray have raised a blended family of four children.