As I have read the Bible in the last weeks, I have been struck by one resounding theme: God initiates!
I’ve been reading the narrative of Genesis and each account is an account of God initiating. Each character only enters the story as someone with whom God initiated in order to invite them into relationship with him and engage them in his plan to restore his broken world.
This theme is not limited to the book of Genesis. It persists throughout the Old Testament narrative (e.g., 1 Samuel 2:1-10) and into the New Testament narrative (e.g., Acts 16:6-10). And, it continues into our lives today.
God initiates…with us! He is initiating to restore us to his family through his gift of salvation and he is initiating to include us in his plan to bring restoration to his creation (Ephesians 2:1-10).
Understanding God as the initiator gives us so much freedom to live our lives joyfully and sensitively in tune with the Holy Spirit and God’s personal direction for our spiritual growth, obedience, and life mission.
Engaging with God as the initiator is like being the secure child in a healthy parent-child relationship. A responsive parent accepts their son or daughter into their family unconditionally. And then, with structure and nurture, trains their child in character, values, and skills along a developmentally appropriate progression to advance them into maturity. All along the way, a healthy parent provides the support and help as well as the freedom and independence their child needs to fail, practice, and succeed.
Just like a parent initiates differently with different children, God has initiated differently with different people in the Genesis narrative and throughout the Bible. And, he initiates uniquely with us. God examines our hearts and evaluates where we need to be pushed to grow to be more like him and then he pushes us into growth in an area of our lives and in a way that is tailored to us (Psalm 139:23-24). God looks into our lives and decides when it’s time to stretch us in obedience and then he empowers us through the Holy Spirit to take new opportunities to obey (Revelation 2-3). God chooses how he will use us in his big plan to draw people into relationship with him and then he invites us to participate (Galatians 2:7-8).
It is a nice idea to say that God initiates, but what are we supposed to do about that? I’d suggest just asking him to show you where he is initiating in your life and then, when you get an idea that is consistent with who God is, whether it seems insignificant or is truly life-altering, take the risk and go for it!
Living my life as someone who responds to God’s initiative has dramatically changed how I approach my faith. Rather than living under the daily burden of somehow trying to achieve everything God has ever asked of his followers, I can now submit each day to where God is directing me right now with deep confidence that he is with me and that he has equipped me for what he has asked of me in this moment. I no longer live under the oppression of guilt for not meeting all the standards, but I live in the excitement of being so personally loved and uniquely called into what God is doing.
Do you want that? Will you take the risk and ask God where he is initiating with you?