How to Maximize Your Enjoyment of God

Spiritual Growth: Taking Your Relationship with God to a New Level

Grantley Morris

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It is wisely said that our “chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” Whatever the God who has everything could possibly lavish upon anyone, it is mere plastic compared with the priceless treasure of his companionship. All the beauty, pleasure and honor in the universe pales to nothing compared with the joy of heart-to-heart intimacy with the most exciting and wonderful person there is. No matter how mature we are in Christ, spiritual growth must be ongoing, and enjoying God is the most exciting aspect of it.

To rephrase a thought from the previous page: take the best human friend/partner you can imagine, multiply that by infinity, add perfection, and that’s God. I’ve been in two minds about illustrating our relationship with God by referring to a close and fulfilling human partnership. Despite it being highly effective in providing tangible insights, I hesitate for two reasons. One is that in human relationships there is not just one, but two, flawed partners, so the result is always inferior to a relationship with the divine. Our Lord, however, shows no qualms in using the lesser to deepen our understanding of the Greater. For example:

    Matthew 7:11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Moreover, in the previous webpage, we touched on the Bible seeing our spiritual union with God as like a marriage, only even more profound. In fact, God in his Word, uses the marriage analogy surprisingly often (Very Many Scriptures). Both testaments refer to turning to other gods as adultery, the New Testament calls Jesus the bridegroom, and so on.

Our union with God is far superior and enduring than the best marriage, and it is available to us all. I remain reluctant to talk about a good marriage, nonetheless, lest it add to anyone’s torment. Almost a lifetime of pain has acutely sensitized me to the reality that many of us do not have the marriage we ache for. I know all too well how other people’s happiness can inflame the agony commonly associated with not having a good marriage, and of feeling a freak and a failure. No matter how much of a lie that feeling might be, the torment is devastatingly real. To help such a reader not feel the odd one out, I see the need to briefly mention my own trial before proceeding.

Until my Lord finally gave me Vicki, I endured over half a century of feeling the shame and pain of never marrying. We have now been married for nine years. Prior to that, however, my yearning for a wife was so close to intolerable that I find it almost beyond belief that anyone could have ever ached for marriage more than I did from my early teens onward. Nevertheless, like an inferior example of Jesus resolutely setting his face like flint towards the cross (Isaiah 50:7; Luke 9:51), my Lord graciously enabled me to maintain an almost suicidal commitment to choosing God’s glory above what every part of me cried out for.

For more on this, see Why I Never Married at the end of this page. Though mostly written while I was still in agony, the link provides a before-and-after view, in the form of a section added more recently. I explain in the addition why I praise God for all that anguish and why, if I had a thousand lives, I would choose it every time. Our matchless Lord is more than worthy of the costliest sacrifice. Moreover, the God who cannot lie has promised that trials, when surrendered to the good Lord, end up achieving so much good that they truly are something to rejoice about.

Whatever most rivals our passion for God is the greatest threat to our eternal well-being. The other great threat I face is my yearning for ministry – something the Lord withheld from me for the first 43 years of my life and even now the influence of my ministry is significantly declining. The agony of being denied what I have craved has been beyond words but the price is small, compared with letting God slip in my priorities. Scriptures like these must characterize each of us:

    Psalm 27:4 One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.

    Psalm 42:1-2  . . . As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

    Psalm 63:3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.

    Psalm 73:25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you

    Psalm 84:10 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

    2 Corinthians 5:14-15 For Christ’s love compels us . . . he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

    Philippians 3:8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ

    Luke 14:26 If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple.

Taking the Plunge

As you read the next few paragraphs, consider how they point to the far superior union we can enjoy with the Lord of the universe.

My wife and I are not only in love but fully committed to each other. Our favorite times are when we are in each other’s company; preferably just the two of us.

Next to God, Vicki means everything to me. All of me is totally bound up in how she fares. When she’s in pain, I’m distressed. When she’s happy, I’m overjoyed.

As a sprinkling of salt increases my enjoyment of food, so Vicki’s presence makes everything more enjoyable. Unless she is enjoying it with me, I cannot enjoy anything as much. My happiness is so wrapped up with hers that a significant proportion of it springs from knowing something is delighting her. In fact, if she is not with me, the more enjoyable it is, the more I regret her missing out on it. And if she is suffering, I long to suffer with her, in the hope that my presence might bring her slight relief. I’d rather eat bread and water with Vicki in a rat-infested prison than live in luxury without her.

Whenever I mix socially, I loathe talking about myself but I love boasting about her. My entire life is devoted to exalting her, and she is equally devoted to me. In fact, she goes to such extremes in seeking my happiness at her expense that I am continually begging her to do less and let me do more for her.

Her finances are my finances. Her debts are my debts. If she receives a raise, I get it too. If she gets a promotion, I get a promotion.

This is a dim reflection of the union with God each of us was born for. Our well-being is totally wrapped up in each other. It is not primarily God or me, but us.

In the previous page we explored some important, but by no means all, of the many implications of the spiritual principle encapsulated in such Scriptures as, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it,’ (Matthew 10:39). We did not even mention something as obvious as martyrdom. No-one unwilling to literally die for Jesus can expect to live with him eternally.

Right now, however, let’s view these Scriptures from another angle: if you focus so much on what God wants that you lose yourself in him, you will find yourself in him. To be found in him, however, is to throb with divine life. It makes you incomprehensibly greater than the emaciated person any of us could ever be without him.

To be self-serving is to suck the life out of oneself. To be wrapped in oneself is to shrivel up and die. On the other hand, a life devoted to divine service is powered by the infinite Lord.

Just how much we should lose ourselves in God is shown in such Scriptures as:

    Romans 6:2  . . . We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

    Philippians 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ . . .

    Colossians 3: 2-3 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

    2 Corinthians 5:15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

    1 Corinthians 6:19-20  . . . You are not your own; you were bought at a price. . . .

    Romans 8:4  . . . do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

    Colossians 3:5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

    1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

There is nothing more pathetic than a life spent pleasing oneself. It differs from a dog chasing its tail in that a dog sees the folly much sooner.

I think it will become clear as we proceed but please don’t mistake the humor in what I am about to say as depreciating children. It is simply a light-hearted attempt to inspire couples to go easier on each other and from there springboard to deeper issues.

I am repeatedly amazed that people let their marriages fall apart or even divorce each other, claiming they can no longer tolerate their partner or wanting someone ‘better’ – and yet still fight to keep their children, whose behavior is torturously more obnoxious than the person they say they can no longer love. Almost no adults keep howling at the top of their lungs for no discernible reason or, even worse, do so because they expect you to change their dirty diaper, clean them after vomiting all over you, keep waking you at some unearthly hour when you desperately need to sleep, and so on. I doubt you will need it, but if you want a little reminder of how, even after several years of tormenting their slaves, babies refuse to grow into angels, see Obnoxious. Even teens keep finding creative ways to infuriate their parents. Nevertheless, many people seem far more willing to abandon their better-behaved partners than their self-centered, demanding and exhausting children.

This suggests that the more time we devote to serving someone, rather than being served, the more our love for that person tends to grow. It truly is more blessed to give than to receive. Likewise, those who give the most to their relationship with God get the most out of it.

I keep finding myself doing things for my wife that I initially do not like but I usually end up enjoying them. Even as I was writing this, Vicki wanted to visit a garden and then go to the beach. I had no interest in going to either. I had already been to both places more than I could count. In addition, it was cold and seemed to me ridiculously early and I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was sleep. Anyhow, my dear wife had had a horrifically stressful day at work the previous day and I was keen to do anything that might help her relax. So I forced myself. Contrary to my expectations, I thoroughly enjoyed it and did not feel nearly as drained as I expected.

This principle applies even more to our relationship with God. We serve a God who owes us nothing and yet rewards as little as giving a cup of water (Mark 9:41). We might not see the reward immediately but it will continue forever. Moreover, no one but God is nearly as worthy of our every effort. The following applies not just to money but every aspect of our relationship with God:

    Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. . . .

    Matthew 6:19-20 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth . . . But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Just as we tend to be more tolerant of children, we tend to be less offended by non-Christians than by Christians; simply because we expect more from Christians. It seems that the better a person is, the more unrealistic our expectations of the relationship.

Let’s pause for a moment to consider some of the many implications for our relationship with God. His very perfection can cause us to develop unrealistic expectations and so get needlessly peeved with him. It is devastatingly easy to mistake God’s superior wisdom for him not loving us with everything within him. Too many of us end up like a two-year-old raging against loving parental wisdom that to a child’s limited understanding seems senseless and cruel. We have nothing like the brainpower needed to view the far bigger picture that God sees. We have no idea of all the complex chains of events sent hurtling and compounding in every direction by the tiniest action. For much more on this see The Joy of Unanswered Prayer link at the end of this page.

God’s integrity never wavers. He is always good, always right, always loving, always wise, and so on. The Flawless One is our Judge; not the other way around. We do not, for example, judge God’s eternal goodness according to what happens before he turns all things around for good (Romans 8:28). Instead, we should reverse this and judge whatever happens in the short term according to God’s goodness.

It is time to “humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God,” (1 Peter 5:6, KJV) and acknowledge that he alone is perfect. It is our intelligence and morality that are questionable, not the infallible Lord’s. It would be nothing less than arrogant foolishness for we who “see through a glass, darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12, KJV) to judge the infinite Lord’s integrity by what we see. Instead, we should judge what we are able to see in the light of God’s integrity.

Consider Jesus in the garden agonizing over doing God’s will. What an almost intolerable dilemma! It was as though he were being ripped apart. With everything within him, he yearned to delight the Father, and yet he recoiled in horror of what was being asked of him. In our case, our flesh can shrink from loss and agony, but our beloved Savior was asked to suffer two things God will never ask of us. In fact, we cannot even comprehend the full implications of our Lord’s anguish. In addition to all the physical torture and human humiliation – which might one day also be asked of us – the flawlessly holy Son of God was being asked to let himself be defiled by all of humanity’s moral filth. In the words of 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us,” (emphasis mine). For us, sin is not just second nature, it has been our very nature. We cannot even imagine how different it was for Christ. The defiling of his spotless purity – his exquisite innocence and unique goodness being overwhelmed by evil – was spiritual rape ramped up to the highest conceivable extreme.

The second horror, however, was even worse. The only truly innocent ever to take on human flesh was being asked to suffer the full spiritual consequences of being evil. That involved the severing of his eternal union with the God whose goodness is absolute. This is why, on the cross, he cried out in anguish about being forsaken by God – at the very time, like no other, that he desperately needed divine comfort and strength. None of us will even be divinely asked to suffer that. Our emotions might sometimes be so overwhelmed that we feel abandoned by God but it remains a deceptive feeling; not reality. No matter what God asks of us, he will always be there with us, and in us.

Christ, our Role Model, achieved so much because everything he did was in perfect harmony with the Father. This involved full submission – a total yielding of his will to God. In a prophecy about the Messiah (Psalm 40:7-8) we read:

    Then I said, “Behold, I have come.
    It is written about me in the book in the scroll.
    I delight to do your will, my God.
    Yes, your law is within my heart.”
    (WEB)

Note in these Scriptures the heart of Jesus and his surrender to the Father:

    John 5:30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

    John 5:41 I do not accept praise from men

    John 7:18 He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.

    John 8:50 I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge.

    John 17:4 I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.

    Hebrews 5:8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered

    Luke 22:42,44 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. . . .

Here’s what it’s like with Vicki and me: How can I win an argument with someone I am one with? How can it be a victory if the one who is part of me loses? I’m uplifted only when she is uplifted. If she is proved wrong or put down, I’m diminished. If she turns out to be right and me wrong, I’m over the moon to have such an intelligent wife. After all, besides God, she is my greatest asset.

What is even more pointless is a clash of wills with the greatest intellect and most selfless person in the universe, who is more devoted to our well-being than even we are.

The Deadly Fear of Failure

Despite being so desirable that men keep making passes at her, Vicki suffers such low self-esteem that she is ludicrously often tempted to view herself as unlovable and sometimes even tempted to conclude from this false premise that I will eventually realize this and cease to love her. She is slowly overcoming this affliction but it’s been a tough battle for her.

Over more than twenty years, vast numbers of people, moved by my writings, have bared their hearts to me. Through this, I have encountered many tragic stories of marriages that have failed, not because both partners were not in love with each other, but because one – often the wife, but then again women tend to be more open about such things than men – was convinced that she was so unlovable that she considered it inevitable that her loving husband would end up leaving her. Too often, this groundless fear grew so torturous for the wife that she decided it was better to stop prolonging the agony and, to her distraught husband’s despair, do the ‘right’ thing by him by leaving him.

From before we married, I warned Vicki that such thinking was by far the greatest threat to our marriage, since I was committed to “till death do us part” with every fiber of my being. In fact, early in our marriage, a time came when she almost left me over this. Thankfully, it only lasted about 24 hours but it was serious. It scared both of us.

It distresses me that Vicki often slips into thinking she must earn my love. It is tragically hard for her to grasp that if she were bedridden for the rest of her life she would be just as precious to me.

I would rather have avoided the embarrassment of mentioning this experience but I do so because essentially the same thinking threatens many a person’s relationship with God. Neither God’s love nor his faithfulness will ever waver. Instead of focusing on how loving and dependable God is, however, many look at how unlovable and unreliable they are, and presume that their inadequacies will cancel out God’s love. Their assessment of themselves might be accurate but they are wrong about God. The Almighty’s love is not so fickle that it has to be propped up by us being ‘good.’ Their inadequate view of God sorely tempts many to conclude he will eventually reject them and that they might as well get it over with by leaving him.

With the enemy of our souls, the supernatural deceiver, egging us on by feeding us lies and enticing us to look at ourselves and our feelings and circumstances, rather than at God and his dependability, this is a grave matter. Irrespective of what circumstances scream, and how we feel about ourselves, we must keep refusing to insult God by doubting the infinity of his love and commitment to us.

    2 Timothy 2:13 if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

Here’s how some versions put it:

    “. . . because he cannot be untrue to himself” (GOD’S WORD Translation)

    “. . . That’s who he is, he cannot change! (International Standard Version)

If you lied, would the God of truth give up and become a liar? The very thought is blasphemous. Likewise, if you fail to reach some standard, will the God of love corrupt himself by no longer loving? No matter what: the incorruptible Lord will keep on being the God who keeps on loving. To think otherwise is preposterous. Nevertheless, logic has not stopped billions from falling into deception.

If we look at ourselves for long, we will fall either into the delusion of pride or the delusion of despair. To avoid either folly we must wrench our focus off ourselves and “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,” (Hebrews 12:2).

From looking at ourselves comes the crushing realization that we have nothing to offer God but problems and heartache. This is not the downer that it first seems, however. It alarms us only because what most of us have the audacity to call love is a travesty. What the world calls ‘love’ is calculated self-interest – entering into a relationship because of what we expect to get out of it. And because we are so perverse, we expect even the Perfect One to be almost as defiled by selfishness as we are. As Jesus declared, only God is good Mark 10:18, emphasis mine). By looking at him we see true love. As demonstrated in Jesus’ stupendous sacrifice that most people have rejected, divine love – true love – is all about giving, not receiving. And God’s supply is inexhaustible.

Since the Almighty is utterly without equal, earth has no perfect parallel for our relationship with him. Where the marriage metaphor is at its weakest is that marriage is more mutually beneficial and a partnership of equals than our relationship with the Omnipotent Lord. In every way, we benefit from our union with the divine and he gets the raw end. Whereas we desperately need him, the all-sufficient Lord needs no-one. He yearns for our companionship, not because he needs us but because he truly loves us. Even our best tarnishes his perfection. The highest status we can strive for is that of ‘unprofitable servant’:

    Luke 17:10 So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’ (NKJV)

We have nothing to offer God that did not come from him and is already his. We come to him not merely with nothing but with an enormous negative – all our sin and failure that causes him unfathomable grief.

In this regard, our relationship with God is closer to that between a parent and an infant than one between equals. Even thinking of a shepherd and a sheep falls short, because a sheep has the potential to make a small contribution to its owner’s wealth/livelihood. In this sense, a shepherd gets more from a sheep than we can offer God. On the other hand, the time will come when a sheep outlasts its usefulness for wool, milk or propagation and its final value is only found by slaughtering it. Likewise, a woman whose husband chose her because of her looks, or a man whose wife married him because of his success, has every right to feel insecure. With God, however, it is electrifyingly different.

“God is love,” (1 John 4:8; 4:16) means he is always as selfless as the cross demonstrates. He enters into relationships for what he can give, not for what he can get.

It is not because of who we are but because of who God is, that makes relating to him thrilling and fulfilling. It lifts us high. Consider an adoring parent: not only is there immense excitement over a baby’s first smile, first step, first word, and so on, almost everything the baby does, from a whimper to a giggle, is seen as important. If ever a good parent has delighted in a helpless, less than perfect baby, God delights in you. And in his love and mercy, he exalts you; in many ways treating you as an equal, and treasuring your contribution, regardless of how much better the perfect Lord could have done it without human help. If ever an adoring parent sees almost everything a baby does as highly significant, so everything you do is vitally important to God.

On earth, even without unforeseen catastrophes, our physical strength, abilities and looks will eventually fade, but never God’s passionate love for us.

The Other Side of the Truth

The Lord wants us only because he wants to bless us. The only thing that could stop this from continuing forever is if we were to keep exploiting God’s mercy; using it as an excuse to keep on hurting people by our selfish, ungodly behavior. What makes this so critical is that our righteous Lord loves not only us, but every person our sin hurts.

The One who told us to forgive seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22) is greater than us in every way, including patience and forgiveness. Nevertheless, that does not mean we can get away with exploiting God’s love. Our fears and failings are no reason for pushing God still further out of our lives, or losing even more of God’s best.

To disobey the Fount of all wisdom is to plunge into the dire consequences of foolishness. No matter how protective a heavily fortified bunker is; to step out of it into a hail of bullets has consequences. To stray from God is to stray from our only spiritual protection, and expose ourselves to even more deception. To end up “hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” is a terrifying possibility that Scripture warns believers about (Hebrews 3:13). Even if we were eventually to come to our senses, thereby averting spiritual destruction, we would have squandered slices of our lives that we can never get back.

Choosing What you Believe

As mentioned, Vicki has plenty of men trying to hit on her. Getting nowhere and hoping to make some sort of inroad, they often ask, “What does your husband have that I don’t have?”

“He’s perfect!” she replies.

That sends them slinking away, feeling utterly defeated. They are well aware of their own failings and they can tell she truly believes I am perfect.

Why does she believe it? Because she keeps choosing to. As much as I strive to be a perfect husband, you don’t need me to confirm the obvious: I fail. Vicki’s attitude is a testament, not to my perfection, but to her steely resolve to view me in the best possible light. If she let the Tempter– or even her own logic – mess with her head, she would easily see my flaws, and those failings would keep looming larger and larger in her eyes. But she stubbornly refuses to slip down that slope.

I, too, very deliberately strive to keep seeing everything about Vicki in a highly positive light. If I didn’t, I would easily slide into negativity and let resentments build that would erode our relationship. If this happened, it would in no way be Vicki’s fault. It would be me letting evil thoughts win and failing to be the husband God expects me to be.

Vicki has some innocent habits that would not bother most people, and some would not even notice them. Unfortunately, my idiosyncrasies so clash with her habits as to be torturously annoying to me. It should be a simple matter for her to change but she seems stubbornly resistant to doing so. I have eventually concluded that these habits must be so enmeshed in her past suffering as to make it almost impossible for her to change them. That realization has helped somewhat but I still have to work hard on not letting them turn into a source of resentment.

Angels and aliens are always welcome to read my writings but if you happen to be human I expect you have your own set of blood pressure episodes stemming from the person you live with.

You might be given a brand new car, but no matter how impressive the car, keeping it in pristine condition takes considerable, and continual, care and effort. Likewise, there is much Vicki and I must do to preserve our special relationship. I touch on this only because the principles apply to everyone’s relationship with God.

A union with a perfect being would be effortless except for one complication: our imperfections. God will never be deceived, misunderstand or fail. The same cannot be said of us:

    James 3:2 We all stumble in many ways. . . .

    Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

    Isaiah 55:9 As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

In every conceivable way, God truly is perfect but, ably supported by the Tempter, my imperfections make me exceedingly vulnerable to failing to perceive his perfections (such as the infinite wisdom behind his decisions) and so letting resentments and negativity seep into my relationship with him.

I work hard on seeing Vicki as more beautiful and desirable (physically and in every other way) than anyone else on this planet. So perverse is our society that this is commonly thought impossible when bodies age. In reality, if ever I let God down by failing to have eyes only for the wife he has given me, I could never chalk it up to the aging process. It would be me failing to honor God and my wife by not continually resisting the deception and murderous lies of the Tempter. It would be abandoning my Christ-bought authority and letting worldly thinking pervert and enslave me. For more on this, see the link Putting Holy Fire in Your Marriage at the end of this webpage.

I keep praising Vicki because her self-esteem is such that I know she needs it. God, on the other hand, has no such issues (even though his love for me is such that he treasures my praise). So it’s tempting to be less motivated to praise him but the truth is that I desperately need to praise him for my sake. It’s the only way to keep my focus and attitude in peak condition.

It would be quite a task counting all the times God in his Word tells us to love him, thank him, praise him, delight in him, rejoice in him, and so on. That’s how important it is to maintain a right attitude towards God. Consider also such Scriptures as:

    1 Corinthians 10:1-5,10-12 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert. . . . We should not test the Lord, as some of them did – and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did – and were killed by the destroying angel. These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! (Emphasis mine.)

    Philippians 2:14-16 Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life – in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.

    Philippians 4:12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

I try never to take Vicki for granted and always be grateful for every little thing she does. Something that helps is regularly reminding myself that, because she is human she could theoretically die at any instant. In fact, she is so Christlike that she puts herself in more danger than average people. Without hesitation she would run into a burning building to save someone, reach out in love to terrorists, etc. There I go: boasting about her again.

Thankfully, God is never going to die, but that is no excuse for me slipping into taking him for granted and failing to deeply value everything – enormous and tiny – he does for me.

“Be self-controlled and alert,” says 1 Peter 5:8. “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” So no matter how good one’s marriage, we can expect attacks. From the beginning of our marriage Vicki and I resolved that whenever anything seeks to divide us, we must never let it turn us against each other but instead join forces to attack it together. So it is with God: I must instantly run to him if ever doubts, resentments or whatever begin.

The best marriage is but a pale immitation of what it is like being in union with Almighty God; the most astonishingly wonderful person in the universe. He is utterly selfless, utterly devoted to me and understands me infinitely better than I even know or understand myself. He is always with me, always knows what is best, and he has not the minutest fault or limitation. He is infinitely better than any of us could ever hope for. But like my marriage, I need to keep working on the relationship because I’m imperfect and can easily let wrong attitudes slip into my heart. It’s even easier with humans to take God for granted, for example, and think he should become some fairy tale character continually waving his magic wand and granting our every wish. It is far easier with humans to underestimate the Infinite Lord’s intelligence and fail to see the astonishing wisdom in his decisions. The rewards are stupendous, however, for those who refuse to be deceived or complacent.

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