Responsiveness! God Responds to Us. How Will We Respond to God?

Being responsive may be easy for some people, but it is difficult for me. Responsiveness forms the foundation for any thriving relationship. God responds as we look toward Him. But how will we respond to God’s invitation to come into a mutual relationship with Him?

The dictionary meaning of “responsive” is “to react quickly and positively, to respond readily and with enthusiasm.”

Here is my present reality. I want God to respond “quickly and positively” to my cries for help, yet expect His grace allowing me to hesitate, to evaluate, or even procrastinate in my response to Him.

“Do two walk together
unless they agreed to do so?”
Amos 3:3

Responsiveness gives agreement to each other.

Difficulty Responding

Disappointment, betrayal, rejection or brokenness form wounds within relationships, Wounds create callouses, a hardness of heart, that often makes responding difficult.

God gave Hosea the overwhelming task of marrying a prostitute, knowing she would be unfaithful. He had to overcome personal pain to woo her back.

God asked this humble prophet to live in a way that visibly demonstrated Israel’s betrayal of their God — the Bride’s betrayal of the Bridegroom.

“Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the wilderness
and speak tenderly to her.
There I will give her back her vineyards,
and will make the Valley of Achor
a door of hope.
There she will respond
as in the days of her youth.”
Hosea 2:14-15

Broken bruised hearts struggle to respond to love. But God leads — even in “the wilderness”, in “the Valley of Achor” (Valley of Trouble). God turns this dry place of trouble into “a door of hope.” Even when hope vanishes, God leads the way!

Here beyond hope, “she will respond.”

Rebellion Blocks

Hosea speaks of Israel’s stubborn refusal to respond “quickly and positively” to God.

Israel’s arrogance testifies against them;
the Israelites, even Ephraim,
stumble in their sin;
Judah also stumbles with them.”
Hosea 5:5

The phrase “testifies against” translates from the same word for “respond.” Refusal to respond epitomizes defiance against our Redeemer and Lord.

Even our faintest response to God’s open “door of hope” releases a transformational change.

“‘In that day I will respond,’
declares the LORD —
I will respond to the skies,
and they will respond to the earth;
and the earth will respond to the grain,
the new wine and the olive oil,
and they will respond to Jezreel.'”
Hosea 2:21-22

Envision it! Our little response to God releases a supernatural reproduction. Creation breaks forth on the wings of human responsiveness to God!

Love Initiates

Jezreel means “God plants.” The seeds of responsiveness bloom and grow, producing a love that initiates — fully and continuously responding.

“I will plant her for myself in the land;
I will show my love to the one I called
‘Not my loved one.’
I will say to those called
‘Not my people,’
You are my people‘;
and they will say, ‘You are my God.‘”
Hosea 2:23

This same word “respond” weaves through the Song of Songs, veiling the responsiveness between the Lover and His Beloved

“My beloved spoke and said to me,
arise, my darling, my beautiful one,
come with me.'”
Songs 2:10

Singing and Shouting Erupts

Some versions translate Hosea 2:15 as she will sing there” in “Valley of Trouble.” The Psalms often express this way of responding.

“May my tongue sing of your word,
for all your commands are righteous.”
Psalm 119:172

Such joyous response of singing or triumphant shouts over our enemies, represent quick, positive response. Listen to God’s decree over Babylon.

“The LORD Almighty has sworn by himself;
I will surely fill you with troops,
as with a swarm of locust,
and they will shout in triumph over you.”
Jeremiah 51:14

Here “shout in triumph” is translated from the Hebrew word for respond.

Covenant Facilitates

Responsiveness refers mainly within the context of covenant relationship. Perhaps that is why I appreciate Hosea so much. He experienced the deepest breach of covenant — the pain of adultery.

The Valley of Trouble leaves enduring scars — visible remnants of broken trust. Everyone faces the sting of betrayal to some degree. Recovery cannot be forced. How does a bruised and wounded heart respond again?

By God’s grace alone! David’s says, “I call out to the LORD, and he answers me.” (Ps 3:4) He assures us, “God will respond to your need.”

“May the LORD answer you
when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
May he send you help
and grant you support.
Psalm 20:1-2

The word “respond” is hidden within Psalm 20 multiple times — responsiveness between God and His children in need. “Help” and “support” are essential to restoring trust. The decision to respond, not just to God, but to those around us, rests upon our security in the Lord’s Presence rather than trusting people to show value and dignity.

I sought the LORD, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
Psalm 34:4-5

God delivers and covers the bruised one from fear and the betrayed one from shame within the responsiveness of covenant love.

Responding

Jonah avoided responding by running and hiding.

“But Jonah ran away from the LORD…
he went down to Joppa…
After paying the fare, he went aboard…
to flee from the LORD…
Jonah had gone below deck,
where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep.”
Jonah 1:3-4

Refusal to respond “quickly and positively” to God’s voice carries a heavy price. The journey leads ever downward into deepening disengagement from God, others and even ourselves. “The fare” costs far more than any realize.

Though Jonah eventually did what God asked, his heart never turned fully to God. He remained hard within the crusty shell of self-sufficiency (4:5), self-pity (4:8), and self-righteousness (4:9). Nineveh repented. Jonah refused.

There is only one man known for his responsiveness to God’s voice.

“Because your heart was responsive
and you humbled yourself before the LORD
when you heard what I have spoken…
and because you tore your robes
and wept in my presence,
I also have heard you, declares the LORD.”
2 Kings 22:19

Josiah was the man! Though imperfect, Josiah responded to God’s voice with humility and repentance.

Positive Outcome

The bible is filled with examples of those who responded well and those who didn’t. They either received a blessing or ended life as a faint shadow of their potential.

God responds to our slightest movement in His direction. How will we respond to His leading, timing and call? Any slowness in our responsiveness delays

God’s presence and power,
intimacy and communion,
and the supernatural results of living
in fellowship with Him.

God waits patiently, but hopes intensely, for us to “quickly and positively” respond to the whisper of His voice. As difficult as responding often is for me, my heart truly wants to leave hesitation, evaluation and procrastination behind. I’m sure you do too.

I want the grace of responsiveness to permeate my life, both with God and with those around me. Every day requires choice. Will I shrink back or move into responsiveness?

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Flying Lead Change! Following God’s Lead!

Though I would never consider myself of a horse person, I appreciate the beauty and grace of flying lead changes. Both horse and rider must become proficient to make these smooth, clean changes of direction in perfect balance without breaking rhythm or losing forward momentum.

Flying Lead Change

In a flying lead change a horse changes leads without changing the rhythm of a canter. It is similar to skipping from one foot to the other, but on four feet instead of two!

While watching horses canter around an open meadow you would notice how beautifully and freely they naturally accomplish this. Add a rider to the mix and it becomes a little more complicated.

The grace of a flying lead change!

Both horse and rider must develop a unified rhythm, trust, freedom of gait, perfect contact, straightness, alignment and balance. The rider must become “one with” the horse, in tune with the horse’s natural rhythm and timing. The discipline is nothing short of frustrating to master, but when accomplished successfully there is an awareness of genuine power unhindered.

The beauty, elegance and power of barrel racing, pole bending, dressage or many other equestrian disciplines is often a result of graceful flying lead changes. In full  motion, the center of gravity shifts, the subtle cues of horse and rider are instinctively responded too. Nothing is lost! Everything is gained!

“What got you thinking equestrian?” you ask.

Lately, I’m having trouble “skipping” to God’s time and smoothly following His direction! Gracefully leaping through life is not an apt description of my walk with Him.

The Lord’s Lead

There is nothing wrong with the Lord’s leading, of course. However, as He calls me to change direction or adjust my focus, personal insecurity, hesitancy, and imbalance create a frustrating, out-of-step cadence within me. Like a stumbling novice I clumsily respond to His directing. I am unable to proceed beyond a slow trot.

“Where is he who set
His Holy Spirit among them,
who sent his glorious arm of power
to be at Moses’ right hand,
who divided the waters before them,
to gain for himself everlasting renown,
who led them through the depths?
Like a horse in open country,
they did not stumble;
like cattle that go down to the plain,
they were given rest by the Spirit of the LORD.
This is how you guided your people
to make for yourself a glorious name.”
Isaiah 63:11-14

Who holds the rein of my life?

What beautiful imagery! God leads His children like a horse into open country where there is perfect liberty or like cattle to peacefully rest in an open meadow.

Do I trust His lead! Trust is necessary for flying lead changes.

Trusting Fully

To trust means I need to lay down preconceived ideas of where I think I should be heading and the pace I want to get there. Personal agendas must fall!

Who really has the reins in my life? It is an easy question to ask; it is much harder to honestly evaluate my heart! As a matter of fact, I can believe I am doing quite fine, until God asks me to step into a new lead. Then reality sets in!

Trusting God to direct

Just like a horse needing blinders to avoid distraction and loss of focus, God often needs to allow circumstances to hem me in to get my full attention.

“I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.”
Psalm 119:60

I hunger to sense the shift of His rhythm and bend in fluid motion to His every movement.

My sister owned a mature cutting horse. Countless times I toppled off the side or plunged over the neck of this amazing responsive horse. Duchess turned on a dime and stopped instantly to the slightest touch of the reins. She was sensitive; I was not! It took time to develop a trust between us that would enable fluid movement and unison.

Without Grumbling

Sometimes horse and rider fight for dominance. It can be a serious battle of wills. Every rider has met this challenge.

Responding with a flying lead change!

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing,”
Philippians 2:14

Time and energy can be wasted grumbling and arguing over God’s lead. Even though it may not make sense to me, a flying lead change requires that I don’t know all the answers or outcomes. Not only is a high level of trust necessary, I also must be convinced of the nature of The One who is asking me to redirect.

Often grumbling is rooted in my personal insecurity. Will I honestly acknowledge my frailty and embrace my struggle. Surrendering in childlike humility to my Heavenly Father always knows best is not an option.

Step by step I AM WORKING toward my personal flying lead change! It may not look or feel “graceful” today, but with practice and time it will! By embracing even the points of failure, I am preparing for success. I am learning much from present disappointments.

Tenacity

My father would often encourage us, “When you fall off, get right back on!”

He didn’t want his children to quit before they tasted success. I think Dad reflected the Father’s heart toward us.

“May the Lord lead your hearts
into a full understanding and expression of the love of God
and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.”
2 Thessalonians 3:5

Here is the essence of a flying lead change – understanding hearts fully expressing God’s love plus the endurance, or perseverance from Christ. What a perfect mix!

When God sees us flounder or break rhythm, He is never discouraged or disappointed with us. Gently, He invites us to try again. He picks up the pace, whispers a new direction, and welcomes us to respond.

When we begin to respond instinctively to His lead, we will rejoice together! The beauty of our flying lead change will be obvious to everyone watching.

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Testimonies of Others:

A Daughter’s Redemption! Dawn Enters a New Day!

The Prodigal Returns, Prayer Answered! Running No More!