When photographs were first invented, everyone could see the difference that “being in focus” made upon our appreciation of the final product. Even with the current age of computers and the increased technology at our fingertips, we can generally tell the difference between a photo or image that is in focus, and one that is blurry. But then you get some bright spark come along and say that it depends on how clear your vision is; that even a sharp photo can look blurry to someone who is sight-impaired.
This reminds me, poignantly, of how our appreciation of Jesus—and the relationship He longs to have with us—can be spoiled by our blurry vision; that is, by how clearly we perceive Him. After all, I think it would be fair to say that everyone, in their heart of hearts, longs to have clear vision so they can appreciate the difference between right and wrong, truth and error, best and worst, healthiness and self-destruction. This is the message God has made available to the world, but which has been blurred in so many ways throughout time.
As I began to think of my own perceptiveness to the Saviour’s love for me, and His desire for a personal, wholesome, growing relationship with Him, I became sadly aware of the many ways in which my perceptions had been warped and blurred by the social, cultural, philosophical and technological deceptions that surround me. Although raised to know the general story of the Bible, and having accepted that “God is love”, it shocked me to realise that for most of my life I had been tricked into focusing on myself; on my desires, my aspirations, my needs. I just didn’t get that in order for any relationship to work, the main focus needs to be on the needs of the other person.
So I began to ask myself, if God is the other person in this most important of relationships, then what are His needs? In shock, I realised I hadn’t even focused my attention correctly in the first place. I’d blurred my perceptions of relationships to the same extent that the rest of society had shown me: to habitually put myself first, others second and God last (or not at all, for most of society!). Should I have been surprised, then, that my life was less than satisfying, my relationships with others sometimes shaky and my health a wreck? When I had an opportunity to re-focus my attention on God, what an adorable Dad I have discovered Him to be; and it has dramatically changed my relationship with Him.
What made me re-focus though? Like most “kids”, I sadly had to learn from my mistakes. It took threats to my marriage, a loss of self-respect and several near-death health crises to stop me in my tracks and cause me to reach out to God for the help I obviously needed.
He says in Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.” To be truthful, I’m still learning to do just that, decades later. But what a wonderful difference He has made in all these areas of my life in the meantime; and without me being able to brag about any effort put in on my part. In a series of ongoing mini-miracles, He has shared insights, resources and experiences that have completely changed my life and made me see, with increasing clarity, just how adorable He is!
Sadly, I am not some great paragon of virtue, accomplished authority-figure or charismatic life-coach who can bring the love of God into focus for you. Like me, you will need to have a change of heart in how you perceive the love of God. The great news is that He is eager to open your eyes and heart. You just have to ask Him and seek Him with all your weak, pathetic, damaged heart—you may be quite tentative at first—and He will then pour out His love and resources in such abundance, you will know that He is truly adorable; you’ll increasingly want to spend more and more of your time and thoughts on being with Him and doing things His way . . . this will lead you to realise something truly amazing! His way is the absolute best way possible. It is the way you would unhesitatingly choose for yourself if you knew all the facts.
Getting this focus right in your life can make a huge impact, and will truly be the single most important outcome, relationship and success you’ll ever have in your whole life. It all starts with wanting to have a genuine, one-on-one relationship with our Creator-God, His Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit; and the place to start is by asking Him to help you seek Him. Prayer, Bible study and a willingness to listen to Him, as He gently begins to touch your heart and mind with His love, is the first baby-step in that process.
I learned a little bit about God’s side of the relationship by discovering that He is actually quite needy. After all, we were made in His image, and we’re pretty needy, so should that surprise us? Let me explain, if I can. In the story of Job, it becomes obvious that God needs real friends . . . that is, real relationships that He can depend on. When Satan came to the heavenly council (Job 1:6–12) and made accusations against God concerning His relationship with Job, God needed the council and the entire universe to see that Satan’s accusations were, in fact, a test of God’s character. God’s relationship with Job was intended to show everyone what true love is really based on.
Although Satan proved he is an insane, cruel, despicable character by sending horrific catastrophes upon Job and his family, Job remained true to the God he had come to know and love by refusing to reject Him. God needed Job to show a high level of trust and obedience to Himself, and he came through. Could Job have endured all that if he didn’t already know and trust God? No. It followed years of connecting with God, on a daily basis, before the bonds of trust between them enabled Job to show us and the whole universe that God is worthy of our loyalty, adoration and love. Job was a friend to God when God needed one. Truth is, God still needs friends!
Since Job’s time, many have been martyred for their faith in God. Some even had the luxury, like us, of knowing about the wonderful life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Not all of the martyrs had a truly clear picture of the God they loved and served, but they loved Him enough to die for Him, rather than betray Him. Can you begin to see the level of love and trust that a real relationship with God requires? Can this be accomplished in a human relationship without seeing or speaking to the other party? No way! Neither can it happen in our lives today without some investment of time and effort towards getting to know the other party.
I’d highly recommend getting to know the one and only, true heavenly Father of us all . . . as soon, and as deeply and as sincerely as possible. He’s sure worth it!
Rouvea Talty is a community volunteer and retired teacher and nurse who attends Leongatha church, Victoria, with her husband.