Prepositions are little words than mean a lot, particularly in the process of spiritual growth. This is especially true with those prepositions that point to Divine Initiative, like “from” and “by.”
It’s easy to fall into the trap to think that spirituality is something that begins with us: our seeking after God, taking our steps on our spiritual journey. We think that practicing the spiritual disciplines, like prayer or reading the Bible or worshiping God, is something we do based on our own decision making. But we are dead wrong.
It doesn’t begin with us. It begins with God.
The Bible says that we are “loved by God,” “chosen by God,” “called by God,” and “known by God.” We also receive “grace/peace/mercy from God,” “righteousness from God,” “the Spirit from God,” and “power from God.” Paul sums it up by saying “all this is from God” (2 Cor 5:18), meaning that all that we have been given (especially our ultimate redemption) comes from God.
Spiritual life begins with God’s Divine initiative to reach out to us. Jesus Christ gives us this perspective when he told his disciples, “You didn’t choose me. I chose you” (John 15:16).
This has tremendous ramifications to our spirituality. When you and I pray, it’s not because we came up with the idea to pray. Rather, it’s because our soul was “wooed by God” to pray. When I open up the Bible and start reading, it’s not because I am a spiritual giant. Not hardly! It’s because God’s Spirit helped me realize my spiritual hunger for something more substantial than reading Facebook entries or Twitter tweets or watching something on TV.
Even our worship of God, wanting to sing of his greatness or declare his glory, comes from the Divine initiative of his singing his love over me first. The eyes of my heart are stirred by visions of his mercy and grace. The synapses of my mind are filled with memories of his goodness and amazing acts. My worship is simply a response to those things done by him and from him.
So open up the door! Swing wide those gates! The King who has loved you, called you, and chosen you – wants you and is knocking on the door (Rev. 3:20)! Spiritual life is not what we do on our own toward God. It’s becoming alive and alert to the “by’s” and “from’s” of God toward us.
What are those things “by God” and “from God” that speak to your soul right now?
How does God want you to respond to them? With thanksgiving? With obedience toward something? With repentance from something? With a sacrificial act of love toward him or another person in His name?
“In view of God’s mercies, offer your bodies as a living sacrifice … this is your spiritual act of worship.”
2 thoughts on “The Wonder of Divine Initiative – “from” and “by””
God is the initiator. Always. The great Hound of Heaven who scooped us out of the dust. Who initiated all covenants. We sang “And the Father Will Dance” music and arrangement by Mark Hayes based on Zeph. 3 and Psalm 34. Coming from a “bootstrap religion” (it’s all up to us), I need this perspective. Thank you. I love the passages that are generously sprinkled with prepositions. They are especially good for lectio divina.
“Bootstrap religion” – that’s a great description! And thanks for the lectio divina tip – I hadn’t thought of focusing on the prepositions or a preposition in my lectio prayers. I seem to always look at whole phrases. It was right under my nose! Thanks, Glenna!