Relationship with God: “Job ONE”

Remember the old Ford commercials? “Quality Is Job One.” The idea, of course, is that nothing comes before striving for quality. More and more, I am coming to see that relationship with God is our “Job One.” The goal of our whole existence is to learn to relate to him. Every good and wholesome human relationship in some way pictures the potential for relationship with God, and even the evil and destructive ones have lessons pointing us toward the right kind of relationship he longs for, and we cannot thrive without.

PARENT-CHILD: We are created into a relationship for his pleasure, we are told—he WANTED to make us, in much the same way that would-be first-time parents want to increase their joy by bringing a child into existence, “creating” it, birthing it, nurturing it, relating to it and having it learn to relate to them.

MARRIAGE: We are wooed into a bridal relationship, courted by the eternal God who longs to bring us into the intimacy pictured in marriage, even to the point of loving us, as he instructed Hosea to do, through our infidelities and selling of our souls to other loves.

FRIENDSHIP: Early on in the Bible, God calls Abraham “friend” and speaks of how he longs to let him in on the secret plans of his heart. The whole theme of Scripture is that we needed the revelation of God, that salvation is not something we could accomplish on our own, apart from his entrance into our existence. Thus the Incarnation is the initiation of the greatest of friendships, the willingness of the very God of the universe to die for his own fallen creation—us.

BROTHERHOOD: Being bonded together even beyond the level of friendship—becoming related by mingling of blood—that is the depth of the level of friendship God wants. Human culture over the centuries has longed to bring those who are not literally related into “blood-brother” relationship—even children become enamored with this concept, making slits in their fingers and rubbing them together.

ADOPTION: Being adopted into full family status is a picture of the kind of acceptance we long for in the natural when we have been abandoned, betrayed, or isolated. The outcast is made a son, and the prodigal, who has made himself an outcast, is given the sandals, robe and ring that are appropriate for one fully vested in the family.

We could go on and on listing other relationships that picture ours with God and his with us. But you get the idea. The title really doesn’t say it all, because what God desires is more than just our striving in a occupational way that excludes the rest of our lives. He wants total immersion in himself, total absorption in who he is and how he is related to us, not on a conscious level, but in a way that permeates our being and saturates us and makes us “into his image” (a phrase that, alas, still doesn’t convey the depth of what he longs for).

How that happens is as unique and individual for each of us as each of our fingerprints, our histories, our entire make-up. To recreate any one of our lives in exactness would be an astronomical feat—and we are literally multiplied billions of uniquenesses. But that only reveals the incredible depths of the wisdom and knowledge of God, that he would create such a vast number of unique individuals with whom he longs to relate, and place them into an even vaster number of relationships, families, clans, tribes, and nations—all of whom he similarly longs to relate to on each level corporately. But it all starts on an individual level. Jesus did it alone, and he calls us to follow. He came to save the world, but he did it all starting only with himself as he grew in the specific unique relationships he was placed into, and fully accomplishing in a short 33 years, the epitome of what relationship with God is meant to look like.

What is required on our end? Nothing—and everything. Nothing, because we have to first recognize that the calling comes from outside us, and originates in the God who longs for relationship. Everything, because once we begin to answer that calling, it will indeed bring all other relationships and our very beings into the alignment we were created for, transforming us so radically that we may not even recognize ourselves. How it plays out is not our call—but it is our calling.

Relationship with God is Job One, and more. It is our very lives, our existence. Once we come alive in relationship with God, all else pales, and our hearts begin to cry with the saints through the ages, “Holy! Holy! Holy!” because the totality of what we are called into is so far beyond anything we can understand or assimilate. We cast our crowns at his feet because we don’t know what else to do. We are overwhelmed in the presence of One so much more than we are, and yet we are drawn, like moths to the flame, to the point of being consumed in him, losing our very awareness of a separate existence, like moments of such ecstasy and flow that nothing else matters.

And then those moments of rapture fade, and we come back into “reality”—but begin to realize that what we call reality is not the reality we long for. And so we keep coming back to him for more. As our spiritual hunger and thirst is slaked, it deepens, so that, paradoxically, we are more satisfied while at the same time hungrier and thirstier! And we come back again and again, and satisfaction deepens and the yearning for more intensifies.

And that is what he wants—for us to so long for him that nothing else matters. And, if we’re honest with ourselves, that is what we have wanted all along, maybe from the very moment of our conception and—who knows? (only God)—before!

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