Category Archives: The Trinity

The healing power of relationship

This week I’ve been taking notice of the way we humans experience wholeness through relationship. It’s popped up in movies, in conversations, in Emails, and just about everywhere I look. Relationship is the miracle balm that encircles our broken hearts and binds the fractured pieces of our lives together again.

It all goes back once more to the Father, Son, and Spirit, doesn’t it? The Triune God, the “One” who exists forever in the otherness of threeness created us in His image. Aloneness could never be natural because it is foreign to God himself. When we’re alone, we’re broken. It’s as simple as that. Solitary human hermits can never reflect the happy glory of a Trinity who laughs and dances together in joy.

“I have come to believe that the root of all our personal and emotional difficulties is a lack of togetherness, a failure to connect that keeps us from receiving life and prevents the life in us from spilling over onto others.” (Larry Crabb: Connecting)

It’s breaking my heart this week to see so many friends who are feeling disconnected, excluded, and abandoned. Even in the middle of writing this update I had a friend plop down and begin to pour her heart out about the pain of feeling alone. It seems to be everywhere I turn. If only we could believe, (REALLY believe), that Jesus has stepped into our freezing loneliness, broken down every wall of separation and adopted us into His Family, then maybe our healing would begin.

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These two photos illustrate the power of relationship: in the first one, the premature twin on the left was struggling for her life in a separate incubator until a wise nurse moved them into a single incubator. When the frail baby’s sister put her arm around her, the weaker twin’s heart stabalized, and her temperature rose to normal.

The abandoned monkey in the second photo was close to death when it was rescued to an animal shelter in China. And even though it’s health began improving, the little monkey remained listless until he befriended a pigeon. From their “friendship” he drew a fresh lease on life.

What does this say about the stunning relational nature of the Trinity who created humans, monkeys and pigeons?  Would such a tender God, could such a tender God leave us as orphans?

Hymn to the Godhead

Holy Father,
servant Son,
Spirit Teacher
Three in One

Embrace my heart,
eternal Grace;
Great God of love,
reveal your face.

Fearful soul,
backs away;
Bring me from
my hiding place.

Orphaned child,
lost, alone;
Adopt me as
Your very own.

A Father’s voice
I long to hear;
Whisper love
into my ear.

Where can I go?
Where can I flee?
from perfect Love,
Great Trinity?

Don Stephens 9/26/07 Budapest

The telltale sign of loneliness

It’s no small gift that my friends who drop by to visit here allow me to speak openly about loneliness, struggles, and disappointments. Jesus, (I’m pretty sure of this), places a far greater value on truth than he does on “victory.” Heck, one of the greatest “victories” of my life was the day I found the guts to stop answering polite inquiries with religious slogans and start telling the truth.

In fact, I do get lonely. But loneliness is no cause for alarm. It simply confirms the idea that I was created in the image of God, who exists eternally in Trinitarian relationship. My yearning for inclusion is a telltale reminder that ultimate reality, (the Trinity), is in essence relational. Would not the Father or the Son feel the same “loneliness” if either was deprived of the company of the other?

Trouble is, none of us can experience complete “oneness” with the Father, Son, Spirit, or anyone else this side of eternity. “Now we see only a blurred reflection in a mirror, but then we will see face to face. Now what I know is incomplete, but then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (I Cor. 13:12) Today I experience relationship only by degree.

But I’m happy to report I have begun to experience it this week even in the anthill busyness of America: little pockets of people and random conversations where friends have taken the time and trouble to remove the masks and visit. “Behold how good and pleasant it is … for there the Lord commands a blessing” (Ps. 133:1)

Being angry at God

Some of my friends have been mentioning their anger towards God lately. It’s something I understand, having been through a few episodes myself. For me those moments have ultimately been healthy and instructive, giving way to a deeper, more endearing revelation of the Father of Jesus. It invariably turns out the “God” I was angry at wasn’t the True God at all, but rather a twisted, ill-informed version of Him shaped by past experiences, shoddy teaching, and rigid legalism.

Jesus said “…no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Matt. 11:27) And when Jesus chooses to reveal the Father to us, he does so by telling a story about an amazing Father and his delinquent son. The same Father who generously hands over the family inheritance and allows him to spend it at will is also the same Father who waits broken-hearted on the front porch for his son to return. And all in the hope of showering him once again with extravagant love. What’s a squandered inheritance worth compared to the treasure of a loving relationship between Father and son?

That’s not the sort of Father who invites my anger and fear. And when I find myself getting frustrated with “God” it’s a reminder that I need to step back and see if I’m not believing lies about who the true Father of Jesus is.

Being perfect

I’ve been thinking about three passages: “Be holy as I am holy,” (1 Peter 1:16) “Be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect,” (Matthew 5:48) and “Be compassionate as your Father in heaven is compassionate.” (Luke 6:36) And I’m wondering if maybe they’re not all saying the same thing. Some Bible commentators have even suggested that God’s holiness and perfection is completed in the compassion of Jesus.

If the most foundational thing about God is indeed the stunning love between Father, Son, and Spirit, and since the one way that Jesus suggested we would be known was by our love, (rather than by our moral perfection), and since the greatest commandment is to love God and love others, then I’m wondering if God’s holiness might be more expressed by loving inclusion and compassion than in spotless moral perfection. If that’s really the case, then I can say with all humility that I’m beginning to experience some personal growth in holiness. My heart is being enlarged towards others in ways that are fresh and exciting.

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Had a spur-of-the-moment picnic on the mountain yesterday. As you can see from the photo, it’s beginning to cool off in Sarajevo. These friends are deeply loved by the Father. Some of them know it, and others haven’t realized it yet.