I used to believe that when faced with a problem or dealing with any situation that I could go to “God’s word,” pull out a promise and claim it as my own. I would tell God that I was putting him in remembrance of his word and that since he isn’t a man that he should lie, I expected him to keep his promise. The only problem is that he never made that promise to ME.
There are a lot of things that we’ve been taught over the years that I’ve since found out aren’t true. This is especially true of the traditions that have developed about the Bible.
The Bible has traditionally been called the word of God. I’ve now come to believe, that only the Old Testament can claim that title. In the Old Covenant, the people didn’t have the Holy Spirit living in them as we now do so the only way they could hear God was through his written word. Today, however, we have the Holy Spirit living in us who speaks to us and he is our teacher and guide. John 1 says that Jesus is the Word made flesh. Although the Bible is an aid in helping us to know Father better, I no longer believe we can call it the word of God. That title belongs only to Jesus.
In the past, when reading the Bible, I would be thrilled to read about the exciting things that God had done for his people and the promises he had given them. However, I failed to understand that although the Bible was written for me, it wasn’t written to me. While reading the Bible, I can learn how Father related to his people in the past and I can be encouraged by reading what they learned. However, I can no longer expect that I can automatically take their experiences word for word and action for action and expect God to do the same thing for me. This understanding means that I can no longer look at God as a safe God that I can put in my own personal box. I can no longer expect that because he did something for other people in another time and place that he’s now bound to do it for me.
I found that despite my constant confession of certain scriptures, he didn’t always do what I wanted him to do. I was always left wondering what was wrong. Maybe I hadn’t been diligent enough in confessing the promises. Maybe I hadn’t used the correct wording and had changed an “an” into a “the.” There was always an uncomfortable feeling that I hadn’t done enough.
Understanding that I can’t just take the promises given to someone else and apply them to my circumstances has been very freeing. It now requires me to actually develop my own relationship with God where I hear him speak to me in a way that is unique to me. This can seem scary but a number of years ago, I learned that even when I can’t trust myself to follow him, I can trust him to lead me. That has freed me from a lot of stress. I’ve learned that he actually wants this relationship more than I do and he’ll do whatever it takes to help me to get to know him.
Darin Hufford has posted an excellent blog on the subject of what a relationship with God looks like. If you’re struggling in this area, you might want to read what Darin has to say. If you’re interested, follow this link.