6. The Initiative of God

Read Time: About 6 mins.

It was a rainy and cold late-summer evening, the perfect kind for curling up on the couch and watching a movie. It had been just a few weeks since Laura and I had started dating, and we were both still getting to know one another. I rolled up the legs of my damp jeans from our recent sprint back from the park where we had been walking just a few minutes before. Laura shivered. I chivalrously grabbed a blanket from the chair beside us and wrapped it around her wet shoulders. A few love-excited butterflies fluttered in my stomach as I pulled her in close and pressed “play” on the remote. As the opening credits of “Jaws” began to play, I could feel Laura’s breathing begin to relax as we snuggled. Without warning, her posture suddenly changed, and she gasped quietly, breathing in quickly several times through her nose. I paused the movie. Surely “Jaws” wasn’t that scary? 

“What’s wrong? Are you OK?”

Ever since I can remember, I’ve sometimes had trouble breathing.

She settled her breathing and glanced back at me, a bit of a sheepish look on her face. “Yeah, sorry about that, I’m fine.”

Concerned, I pushed a little. “It seemed like you had trouble breathing.”

“Yeah…” She paused, like she was trying to come up with the right words to explain. “Ever since I can remember, I’ve sometimes had trouble breathing. It just happens, like... I don’t take in enough air. And I’ve never been able to take deep breaths, just a lot of shallow ones.”

“You can’t breathe deep?” I verified. I had never heard of that before.

“No. Ever since I can remember.”

“And it doesn’t bother you?”

“Nope, not really. It’s just sort of… normal.”

I furrowed my brow. “Huh. Interesting. Well… as long as you’re OK.”

She again assured me that she was just fine, and I logged it away in my head under “things to know about Laura” beside her borderline obsessive love of ice cream, the place she grew up (Moncton, New Brunswick), and the fact that she had “scary dreams” fairly often. Then I pulled her close and grabbed the remote.

——————

30 or so people clapped and praised God as the worship time came to an end. It was 3 years later, and Laura and I were married. There was an obvious buzz in the room from the enjoyment of God’s presence. I looked over at Laura, and she yawned. In juxtaposition to the jubilation around us, we were both starting to feel like perhaps we shouldn’t have come that evening. Neither of us had slept well the night before, but we’d convinced ourselves that going to the house meeting would give us a much needed energy boost. Unfortunately, that was the opposite of what was happening. “Maybe we should go?” Laura whispered.

I nodded cautiously. “Yeah, we’ll slip out before they share the message. I’m exhausted too.”

I shifted my weight to stand, and suddenly our friend Richard stood, motioning with his hand that he had something to say. “I feel like God is saying something,” he began. Everyone quieted down and focused their attention on the older man. “I feel Him saying that there are a few in the room tonight that suffer from bad sleep, specifically because of bad dreams. Jesus wants to release healing to you!” 

The warm and electric presence of God began to build as we turned our attention to Him.

Laura and I were instantly engaged and no longer tired. Laura looked at me, and I knew instantly that she felt like the prophetic word was for her. She put up her hand, and a kind girl named Erin scooted over to pray with us. She laid her hands on Laura and I rubbed Laura’s back. The warm and electric presence of God began to build as we turned our attention to Him. “You don’t have to be afraid anymore”, Erin was saying. “Jesus is going to deal with this right now. Just take a deep breath.” Without thinking, Laura breathed in. Suddenly, she opened her eyes, which quickly welled up with tears.

“Oh no, what’s wrong?” Erin’s face flooded with concern and sympathy.

“Nothing!” Laura said through joyful sobs. “I realized that I just took the first deep breath of my life!” 

We all laughed and praised God. Only He could have known that her bad dreams and her breathing problems were connected. As we thanked Him together, my wife’s breathing was completely healed, and she has since not had a single night terror. I’ll never forget how relaxed and full of peace she looked as she slept that night!

Laura later told me something that made all this even better. She said that she had always struggled with knowing that God cared deeply about what was happening to her in life. What made this particular encounter so special to her was that she had never, not once, asked God to heal her breathing! It had become such a normal, everyday thing, that she had completely accepted it. But Papa never forgot about it, or the fear in her heart that was causing her bad dreams. Papa God set in motion the perfect way to set her free from both, entirely of his own initiative!  

It continually amazes me to see the kinds of things that God has done, and continues to do, even without us asking! One of the things that always shocks me to the core is just how dead set He is at being good to us. He holds constantly within His heart the desire to find every way he can to lavish us with goodness, and reveal to us how much he cares! It’s just who He is! Heck, even when we were at our worst, He gave us Jesus, and not only were we dead set against God at the time, we certainly weren’t asking for what He was giving us in Christ! Romans 5:6-8 says: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” If he was dead set to give us His very best at a time when we were not just at our worst, but not even asking for what He was giving, how could we think that his desire has ever changed?

... faith based on my action instead of God’s will always require more action. It’s a faith only as strong as my human initiative.

For the longest time, I thought that faith was something that I produced through prayer or other spiritual activity, and once I had filled up my “faith bank” enough, that would convince God into answering my prayers. At the core of this activity was the belief that God required my action to get His attention. Moreover, that He cared less about what I was going through than I did. But faith based on my action instead of God’s will always require more action. It’s a faith only as strong as my human initiative. Realizing the endless initiative of the heart of God has since changed so much of how I relate with Him. Once we realize God’s endlessly generous posture towards us, a posture that has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with how He has resolved in Himself to act, it begins to change the way we think about faith. Faith is simply leaning and trusting upon God’s unwavering desire to bestow absolute Goodness upon us. (John 6:28-29 AMP) The flavour of faith is rest and peace!

Friend, God wants to give you every good thing. When we receive the fact that He has already begun to pour a mountain of blessing on us, suddenly instead of relying on our own faith, we instead slip into His, and it begins to effortlessly produce the fruit of His faithfulness in our lives.

This Blog’s Recipe

Take this opportunity to ask Holy Spirit which ways Papa God may be pursuing you at this very moment. Are there areas of your life that you can release to God’s unwavering initiative?