by Ashley Herring
by Ashley Herring
“If we accept Him, we accept all of Him.” Those words had been rolling around in my head for a few weeks, and they still jolted me. I heard them spoken by Drew, a man at my church who, by all physical and worldly measures, should not be speaking that phrase with such assurance and passion. But he said them nonetheless.
After going through a divorce he didn’t want, leaving a ministry he loved, working jobs for which he felt little and splitting custody of his daughters, Drew stood at the front of our church family and told us of our unmistakable calling to fellowship with Jesus Christ. The rocky path he had walked led him to realize the point: fellowship, a whole relationship. Living out that calling, he found that no matter what life threw at him, he was satisfied. “Because if we accept Him, we accept all of Him.” I was stunned, and I found myself wondering what I was missing.
One in four children in the United States (19 million children, or 28.6 percent of children 17 or younger) has been exposed to some type of alcohol abuse or dependence in their families (American Journal of Public Health, Volume 90, Number 1, January 2000). In our generation, there is abundant and growing evidence that we—and those around us—are growing up broken, battered, bruised and devoid of any real sense of belonging or wholeness. Trust is foreign to us, community is a myth, and our microwave mentality steals intimacy from our relationships. Most of us have not embraced the idea that God wants and loves us and that our interaction with Him is, in fact, a relationship.
Wholeness: It’s the cry of every human heart. We all want the hunger pangs in our hearts to be filled up with something. We know the answer. So why are we still so hungry, so disjointed? God is calling every one of us to wholeness with Him, to health. He says, “I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the Lord; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart” (Jeremiah 24:7, NASB). A whole heart, devoted to Him and able to love Him? Do we dare believe that wholeness can be a reality? Jesus came to bring us health, among many things. He is the balm of Gilead, come to restore the health of God’s people (see Jeremiah 8:22). But the question is, why? Why be whole and healthy? Here’s the answer: Complete and full intimacy, adventure and beauty can only be found in a relationship with God. I believe He wants us and will enable us to do two things to live this life with Him: to realize that we are dealing with a personal God who calls us to relationship, and to accept all of Him, as He is, as He ever will be.
The Wild PursuitRelationships are the crux of life. They are what make us come alive, in fact. We only know ourselves in the context of relationships. Still, we tend to ignore the most important relationship we have: our relationship with God through Christ. Sure, we pray and read our Bible, we go to church and sing the songs—but do we connect with God? Do we even realize that relating to us is His desire? Or is He just a Mr. Fix-it to us? One of the most beautiful pictures in the Bible of God and His people is that of a husband and wife. We must embrace the fact that He is our Bridegroom and we are His bride. God pursues us as a man pursues a woman. He says, “‘Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her … In that day,’ declares the Lord, ‘you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master’” (Hosea 2:14-16, TNIV).
Thus begins the passionate pursuit of God after the one He loves. Jesus told Martha that the one needful thing was to sit at His feet (Luke 10:38-42). We must begin here. If we try to start with a formula or with service or with coming to God only to get something, we will find ourselves dry and thirsty. Why? Because we were made for fellowship with Him. We were not made to get what we want from Him and then go on with life while He waits for us to run out of steam.
C.S. Lewis says in Mere Christianity, “A car is made to run on gasoline, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other.”
Acceptance with PassionOn the journey to wholeness with God we must embrace a relationship with Him and all of the joy and pain and beauty and wonder that entails. If we want a true relationship with God, we must take Him as He is. Wholeness means the entire piece.
Few of us have experienced God in the facets of His fullness. He’s Father, or He’s Sovereign God, or He’s Provider, or He’s Friend, or He’s Healer. But is He Father and Sovereign God and Provider and Friend and Healer? Yes, all this and more!
God is never only one thing. He is never just God. He is never just Lover. He is never just Judge or just Warrior. He is All. He is I AM, and He is calling us to embrace the reality of what that means for us. It is a wonderful thing to embark on a journey of discovering and receiving all of who God is and will be for you and in you. But it is also terrifying.
As my friend Drew found—as I have found, too—if we take all of God, we will eventually come face to face with things that we do not like, things that make us uncomfortable and hurt. Jesus said so Himself when He said that those who follow Him (those who would be in fellowship with Him) have to pick up their cross. There is a certain level of self-denial that love requires, and it is a hard and beautiful thing because Jesus also promises that only if we give ourselves to Him will we find our true lives (Matthew 16:24-26).