Putting the “Personal” Back in My Relationship

It’s alarming to me how many spiritual leaders insist that the only way God speaks today is through Scripture. I heard that again this past weekend, and I can’t stop thinking about it. So I was trying to put some thoughts down about it because I think it’s critical to our relationship with God. But because I don’t like bringing up subjects that are sure to stir up controversy, the words were hard in coming.

Then this morning I saw that a Facebook friend of mine, author Chris Tiegreen, had just blogged about the same subject. He’s as concerned about it as I am. In his words,

Some Christians are “deeply concerned” when they come across someone who says they get “direct revelation” from God. To the contrary, I’m deeply concerned when Christians say they can’t.

That’s how I feel, too. So, encouraged by Chris’s words, here goes.

What Are They Worried About?

I understand, I think, why some people worry about the idea of God speaking personally to people. Inevitably, whenever the subject comes up, they mention the person who said he “heard” God tell him to leave his wife and marry his secretary. That proverbial man is the warning to us all: If we open ourselves up to personal guidance from God we are bound to wind up in gross sin.

But that’s not at all what I’m talking about! That man did not need specific personal guidance. If he wanted to know whether he should remain married or not all he had to do was look in the Bible. The Bible speaks very specifically to the subjects of divorce and adultery. God gave general revelation on that topic, and He hasn’t changed.

But the Bible does not speak about which Compassion child I should sponsor or what treatment I should pursue for my messed-up foot.

In fact, a lot of the things I need to His help with aren’t specifically addressed by Scripture. Things like

  • Which home group should I join at church? Or should I volunteer in a ministry instead?
  • My heart is stirred by a couple of major crises going on in the world right now. I’d like to help financially. What organization should I give to?
  • I expect to have some free time this weekend. Should I spend it working on projects or hanging out with people?
  • A friend is going through a hard time. How can I encourage her?
  • I have several projects I’m juggling at work. Which one should I tackle next? And how should I go about it?
  • An important conversation is coming up later this week. What should I say? Not say?

The Bible has general guidelines for some of these issues, obviously. For example, in an important conversation I should speak truth and I should be gracious. But exactly what should I say? The Bible doesn’t tell me that.

Put the “Personal” Back In “Relationship”

But the Bible does tell me I shouldn’t lean on my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). If the Bible is the only means I have of hearing from God and it doesn’t address the specific situation I am dealing with, what other choice do I have? I can lean on my own understanding or I can lean on someone else’s, but if I’m not getting it from God, that scares me!

There’s another part this that may be even more important, however. Not being able to hear God speak personally to me takes the “personal” right out of “Personal Relationship with God.” How can it be personal if God doesn’t address the specific cries of my heart? Or if He can’t interject something specific that I need to hear? Chris says it well:

If we depend on [general revelation] to the exclusion of a personal conversation with God, we’re cultivating a relationship with principles rather than a relationship with him.

I used to live that way—I felt like I had a personal relationship with my Bible, but not with its Author. Since I’ve taken God at His word—that His sheep do hear His voice (John 10:27), that the Spirit helps me to pray (Romans 8:26-27), that the God gives wisdom when I ask (James 1:5-6), that the Spirit teaches me everything I need to know (1 John 2:27)—my life with God has become much more intimate and personal. I spend far less time trying to figure out what His will for me is and far more time simply enjoying His company as we do life together.

And that is what I wish for everyone. In fact, I believe it is every Christian’s birthright. What do you think?









6 thoughts on “Putting the “Personal” Back in My Relationship

  1. Not just you and Chris Tiegreen. Along the same lines, also posted 9/17:


    A quote from the above: “We want clarity — and God gives a call. We want a road map — and God gives a relationship. We want answers — and God gives His hand.”

  2. Amy Martin says:

    Yes! Lately I have been very disturbed by this idolizing of the text of scripture instead of the Person Who spoke it to someone who then wrote it down. I am so lonely for other believers who hear the same voice I do. I have been surrounded by this kind of Christianity that is so worried about people being deceived and following their own heart, which they remind us is deceitful and desperately wicked. Well, not if we have received the new heart He promised us, and the mind of Messiah, and we are testing all things by the Word. It is hard enough to get over the times when I misunderstand what He is saying to me, when I feel betrayed that He let me act on that misunderstanding, but when other people discourage me from continuing to listen for Him and obeying what I hear, it feels devastating. There are tens of thousands of real believers in this world who have no Bible, yet God leads them and uses them to speak truth to others. Yes, this is a very big issue with me. Yet on the other hand, there is the problem of people who think God is speaking to them all the time – about other people. Another topic! Thank you for posting this. I needed the encouragement.

  3. Lewis Turner says:

    It is one thing to know our Bibles–but it is another thing tohave a personal relationship with our Creator and Lord Jesus Christ. Very well stated.

  4. Joan Pekrul says:

    I talk to my Heavenly Father everyday and yes He speaks to me in my heart & sometimes while I’m reading His Word. When I ask, what am I suppose to do or say now Lord, He brings a scripture to my heart or gives He me a message through my dear friend & prayer partner. My Jesus always talks to me, and I’m learning to listen & to follow. He is our Abba Father, why would He not want talk to His kids and answer our cries for help? He LOVES us!!!!!
    Your Sister in Christ,

  5. Lea Ann Brookens says:

    I love the title of this article Cynthia and resonate with what you’ve said!!!

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