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Relationship Reset

Life can get messy for some of us. We make wrong choices, or someone close to us makes wrong choices and before we know it, life unravels at the seams.

In this article I’m covering our discussion at The THRESHING FLOOR where we talked about how to reset relationships with God, with ourselves, and with others so that we gain ground, not lose it. A guest joined me to discuss her background of family abuse that led to marital abuse and infidelity and her journey with God through it all. Her story is not here because it's for her to share not me, but I discuss my own.

Why do we share our testimony so openly? It's not because it's fun to do or calls attention to anything that's happened before. It's to help each other, and to display God's grace and glory through journeys of courage, hope, and the purpose He brings. People who receive it can also receive hope and the power and authority of change through Jesus Christ.

Mark 5:19

... tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how He has had mercy on you.

The word testimony in Hebrew is “aydooth”, meaning ‘do it again with the same power and authority’. When we listen and take on God's truths and breakthroughs that another woman testifies to, we are saying, God, do it again with the same power and authority in my life. That is the reality of the power of testimony and that is the reason for testimony on The THRESHING FLOOR. The purpose is to produce refinement and substance, stability, healing and hope as we discuss our stories but see ourselves anew through the bible, not through our experiences.

This time at The THRESHING FLOOR we talked primarily about two things. Where is God in the mess? And time.

Grab a cup of coffee or tea and sit and reflect for 10 minutes with me. I'm not a scholar, I just value soaking in God's Word to ponder over its practical application to life. This is my therapy.

Welcome to the condensed version of The THRESHING FLOOR.

Where is God in the Mess?

The first question many of us think is, why, or how could God let this happen?

If I walk backwards to see where things started to go wrong in my life, I’m going to say it started with me. Yes, other people did things to contribute to my experiences which shaped me but I’m going to presume that most of us become self-absorbed with our own needs. We ignore what we should take note of. And we don’t realise how detrimental and long-ranging the effects of our miscalculated choices will be. Then we look at God and demand why He shouldn’t fix it.

I’ve carried wrong attitudes, made mistakes, found myself in ruins, shaken my fist at God, been restored through chastisement and obedience, and with the precious investment of time and God’s grace have been cultivating a garden that finally – after many years – is producing new growth and change even in unexpected places.

Is it easy? Not at all. But it’s worth it.

Isaiah 40 talks about the comfort that God wants to bring to our lives; ending our warfare, making the rough places smooth, removing the obstacles, for the sake of revealing His glory.

God is still in the mess, despite ourselves.

But how, and what good does that do me?

God Himself Became the Mess

We might prefer God take our problems away, but we wouldn’t learn anything if that happened. In order to help us, Jesus bore our sins on His own body, on the cross.

Isaiah 52:14 says “his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being”.

On the cross, He became sin. (1 Peter 2:24 and 2 Corinthians 5:21.) Every sickness – cancers, boils, skin diseases – acts of hatred and evil that every human being on this earth has ever carried He became so you and I don’t have to wear it anymore, like old rags. It’s hard to fathom. But here it is. Jesus is in your mess with you because He became the mess on the cross. That’s why He knows and understands what you go through. Not only because He walked this earth as a man. Not only because He took those unimaginably cruel beatings that ripped his body apart. He wore sin and bore sin within His own perfection. He consumed it, understood it – and yet, remained holy and wasn’t changed by it. He took it and He crushed it. Wow.

Colossians 2:15 (AMPC)

[God] disarmed the principalities and powers that were ranged against us and made a bold display and public example of them, in triumphing over them in Him and in it [the cross].

He won. Sin lost. This means I have an opportunity to win after my losses.

Ezekiel 37:13-14 (NIRV)

So I will open up your graves and bring you out of them. Then you will know that I am the Lord. You are my people. I will put my Spirit in you. And you will live again.

God will always give us the way out. What we thought was dead He can revive. We have to take His hand and trustingly, follow Him through our mess. He doesn't just whip it away with a, 'hey presto!' I remember an occasion where I was venting at Him, desperate to see a way out of my situation. I wanted it to magically vanish. He responded very clearly and said to me, ‘Follow me, I know the way – I’ve been this way before.’ I didn't realise that. And I had to walk it out with Him directing me.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (ISV)

No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing He will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

I didn’t believe this scripture for a long time. I thought I was being tested beyond my strength and He wasn’t providing the way out. It was taking so long and I couldn’t see much good in what was happening. It was just more bad, more sad, more madness. I could have turned away. I could have diluted my faith. Doubts are okay - as long as we carry a fundamental desire to find God’s truth.

Here’s the crunch. There is no other way but to patiently endure.

When we focus on what it is God can do through our mess, rather than on the object of the mess itself, we learn to persevere. In that stage a steely strength is developed. He knows that the messes we endure can’t be endured and overcome without Him. He understands and promises to bind up our wounds. That means, we don’t continue to walk wounded either. We don’t continue to identify with old wounds and experiences. Endurance and perseverance is part of character building as well as change.

Romans 5:3-5 (TPT)

But that’s not all! Even in times of trouble we have a joyful confidence, knowing that our pressures will develop in us patient endurance. And patient endurance will refine our character, and proven character leads us back to hope. And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy, because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us!

Unfulfilled hope can become a desperate thing. An awful thing. Hope that does not disappoint must be worked out on this earth because that’s where we need it. That’s why the bible is at pains to say faith, hope and love remain. Ultimately, persevering with faith, hope and love, will lead us to victory. You've got to believe that.

1 Corinthians 13:13

 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Faith and hope will be fulfilled in eternity when we meet Christ in all His fullness. On this earth, however, faith, hope and love are needed in equal measure. Faith and hope balances, equips and supports our ability to fully love the way Christ loves. Without faith and hope we cannot love fully and we cannot endure. Even love on earth without faith and hope loses its Godly integrity and perspective. The greatest is love, not because faith and hope are less important, but because God is love.

It’s a miraculous thing to realise the importance of faith and hope in the context of relationship and what God is able to accomplish if we allow perseverance and character building to shape us. James 1:4 tells us the finished work of perseverance means our faith will be complete, not lacking anything. How else do we keep believing through years of relationship trials and come out finally, victorious and joyful?

Connecting the Dots

Oswald Chambers said it like this: “Sometimes it looks like God is missing the mark because we’re too short-sighted to see what He’s aiming for.”

Time is of the essence, just not in the way we normally think of it. Quick, and over-and-done-with. No. It's rather slow and well-marinated.

We have to choose whether we want what God wants, or not. Many people choose by throwing in the towel. Choosing what God sees will require long-suffering and the ability to remain (in love) in patient endurance, believing in a type of miraculous work that only the Holy Spirit can administer. We need to be willing to walk a journey, for a long time, that we wouldn’t otherwise choose.

Proverbs 3:3

(New Living Translation) Never let loyalty and kindness leave you

(New King James Version) Let not mercy and truth forsake you

(New International Version) Let love and faithfulness never leave you

These are virtues the proverb instructs us to carry tightly and these three translations help us to understand it's depth of meaning. The Living Bible says to “write them deep within your heart”. The ideology of self in the world opposes the biblical ideology of self-denial. But it is precious, and even a requirement, to God.

When we tattoo these virtues on our heart they become a part of us; they don't morph with our emotions. We can easily become dissuaded, unless we are willing to be continually changed by the capacity they bring.

Proverbs 3:4-8 (TLB)

If you want favor with both God and man, and a reputation for good judgment and common sense, then trust the Lord completely; don’t ever trust yourself. In everything you do, put God first, and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success. Don’t be conceited, sure of your own wisdom. Instead, trust and reverence the Lord, and turn your back on evil; when you do that, then you will be given renewed health and vitality.

Acknowledging the Real Significant Other

Our sense of self has to be grounded in His Spirit, not in our own soul, and not in any one else. We struggle with this. In denying ourselves we think we are in deficit. That’s why the revelation of faith, hope and love must take place. Always believing for the best in the face of adversity and not doubting. Able to weather storms of character: storms of betrayal, storms of denial, storms of circumstance, storms of emotion.

My value is not based on how others treat me. So, neither I, nor others, are the most significant person. My value is based very simply on who God is in me. I am connected with myself and with others, through Him.

Upholding hope and faith in adverse conditions and trusting that love will have the final say is the framework of honouring and believing in someone even when we’d rather not.

Of course, there are boundaries. God doesn’t expect we lie down so others can walk over us. God doesn’t say that we are expected to live under the abuse or oppression of others. God is a God of justice and righteousness. 2 Peter 2:9 says that He knows how to deliver the righteous and will deal with the unrighteous. But that’s not a justification to automatically do what we think is justifiable. We should seek God because He has the way and the answers and sometimes it can be quite a journey.

God is a God of compassion and mercy towards everyone. He desires to see resolve, reconciliation and restoration. It can take everything we’ve got and then some. Overall, Romans 12:18 says, if possible, as far as it depends on you, live peaceably with everyone.

It Takes Time

Time is a factor that is essential to the process of forgiveness and healing, change and transformation. That’s why patient endurance is elemental to relationship resets, is based on hope, by which the work of perseverance perfects our faith, which is brought about by God’s great love and knowledge of us in our mess.

Every circumstance is different and every person should seek God’s Word for their way out. The bible is the greatest work of literature ever written. He directs each person according to what He's written. He directed me through abuse, neglect, dishonour, lies, lust, pornography, rebellion, betrayal, addiction, subterfuge, marriage, divorce, family separation, bankruptcy, abandonment, shame, fear, rejection, worthlessness, hopelessness, weariness, disbelief, defeat, and rage. He now directs me through the fruits of the Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit and the knowledge of God’s greater glory through my circumstances, my story, and has transformed me so I am not the same. He has cleansed me, purified me and calls me deeper into a new identity, so much so that I can’t identify with who I was or what I experienced any longer.

Luke 7:47

“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”

Everything we experience, He has the answer to and He should have the final say in our choices.

Micah 6:8 (AMP)

He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you except to be just, and to love [and to diligently practice] kindness (compassion), and to walk humbly with your God [setting aside any overblown sense of importance or self-righteousness]?

1 Peter 4:8-10 (EXB)

Most importantly, love each other deeply [earnestly], because love will cause people to forgive each other for many sins [covers a multitude of sins; Prov. 10:12Luke 7:46–47]. Open your homes [Be hospitable] to each other, without complaining [grumbling]. Each of you has received a gift to use to serve others. Be good servants [stewards; managers] of God’s various gifts of grace [Rom. 5:15–166:23]. 

Galatians 6:9 (NLT)

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

There is comfort in God’s Word to every distress, and instruction to every issue. We have to be prepared to invest our time, our thinking, our heart and our intentions to the pursuit of what God would have for us, and be obedient. We have to be willing to leave the outcome to Him.

Isaiah 51:3 (NIV)

The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; He will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.

Click here to read Relationship Reset part 2 - Honour & Blessing.


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