Being on the Respond Step with God

By Sharon Khoo

Looking at the Respond step, we see that there are many elements there for the purpose of our growth in Christ, for the influence of the Gospel. The Cross & Combi-Shape are 2 shapes that stand out, along with the key words ‘to grow’, ‘Influence for the gospel’, ‘C.H.A.N.G.E.’, Therapeutic Map, and tools like Trialogue & Tennis.

I remember a time when all the above items were real and present for me, as I was responding to God, in my worst pain and suffering. I was suffering from Clinical Depression, beneath underwater in the square, and needed some help and deliverance to say the least! I was a self-Centred victim (right side, bottom, square), not yet a God-Centred Victor (left side). 

That was the space and time in my life that I felt like I had no choice but to turn to the Cross – my first response to God. I called out to God in my psychological overwhelm of pain and despair, and found myself met by the Presence, Person and Provision of Jesus Himself (some wonderful ‘Ps’ or gifts that we find at the Cross), during my inner healing and deliverance sessions with my pastoral counselor whom I saw for many years in my healing journey. 

This Holy space of meeting Jesus in the underbelly of my suffering, can be likened to being at the Home position for our heart, right beside the cross in the Combi-shape. Through this experiential knowledge of God, I found that He comes down to our lowest levels of suffering, doesn’t just meet us there as Immanuel, but responds to us at our deepest, darkest pain here as we respond to Him too. Just like Jesus talks about rescuing the one lost (or broken & vulnerable) sheep in Luke 15:4-7. Or in Psalm 23:4, where though we walk through the darkest valley, our Good Shepherd is with us, comforting us with His rod & staff.

Here, in this home position, I played tennis & Trialogue regularly with God and Jesus. Wrestling with Them over tough inevitable questions I needed answers to (albeit with much blind rage and ignorance) like, “Why did you do this to me (& my F.O.O.) God?”, “How could you be good and still allow such bad and harm, evil and violence come my way against my will, as a child who is vulnerable no less?”, and, “What were you thinking, letting your own son die when you could slay the devil & end all this madness & evil Yourself instead? Are you mad?”

Well, God always has His own wisdom & response to ours, especially when we are throwing them unkindly, wrongly or blindly at Him, to say the least. And I thank HIM that He was able to more than graciously forgive me for my serious shortcomings, love me in my severely broken state & naïveté as a child who not only needed to heal but to be properly educated in my faith about God & grow up in Christlike maturity (as is a purpose of the Respond step).

In my or any of our initial poor response to Him, I Thank God, for His better one. For not condemning me but responding back in great kindness, understanding, wisdom, undeserved grace and unconditional love as a Father who is Bigger, Better, Wiser & Kinder. He gave me the answers I needed, convicted me that He understood where I was coming from and that He was really ok. And more than ok, He was going to help me be ok too. He is and always will be good, to all of us as humanity, despite our broken, sinful nature & the evil nature of the enemy.

I thank Jesus too, for being the Wounded Healer & Best Friend I needed, identifying with all of my flaws, pain, brokenness and iniquities, saving me too, from my own kind of painful insanity. Needless to say, our God who is more than able, responded back in love to me at this R step, with all the answers He knew I needed, with time playing more trialogue and tennis with Him over some years. That included His answers to my earlier questions. It was finally not just a one-way conversation I previously had as a child & teen with God, but a 2-way, even three-way connection, with the presence of my counselor too, helping the responding, healing and growth process – much like the nature of the triangle. 

At the end of traveling this therapeutic map of having quality pastoral & professional counseling, inner healing, deliverance and more (I chose to receive clinical counseling and therapy such as seeing a Psychologist and Psychiatrist too, which God worked for my eventual good of wholistic healing. And is one wholistic therapeutic map I thoroughly recommend and encourage my own clients who desire to overcome mental illness to take in my pastoral counseling practice), I found myself transformed. God delivered me out of deep waters. 

I moved from the left self-Centred side to the right God-Centred side of the square, to be above water level with & in Christ. ‘C.H.A.N.G.E.’ happened. I was … 

Challenged to be more like Christ daily, Heightened in my knowledge & understanding of why God allows suffering and sickness in the world, 

Affirmed in many countless ways by other healthy people & God in the area of overcoming evil with good (Romans 12:21), New Ways of being more healthy & whole, not just happier, such as having healthy boundaries & imitating Christ, 

Growth in character was a definite in this process of responding to God, and I was Empowered to forgive, love again, and walk out of the dark fog of depression & bitterness, after 22 years of bearing with & healing from this unwanted dis-ease. 

Fast forward 10 years later & only by His great grace, I thank God that I am more than an Overcomer & Victor in Christ (Romans 8:37). My humbled response to God out of an overwhelmingly grateful & transformed heart, is that I choose to love & live for Him daily. To put God first and foremost in my life, and to obey His commandments, especially His greatest one (Mark 13:30-31); with full devotion & commitment to be more like His son. To love and serve others too, with a desire to make Him known, by sharing the good that He is and offers to us all, while we still live life on earth, this other side of Heaven. As His Missionary, Pastoral Counselor, guest speaker and the author of the book, ‘Hope in Despair’ – God’s story of how He got me out of Clinical Depression, Complex Trauma and Abuse – I am responding to God by using these roles to be an influence for the Gospel by sharing with others the good news & hope of Christ, in the midst of mental illness & suffering. All because He responded to me, and I too, was desperate enough to respond to God. Truly, God is worthy of our response to love, honor and worship Him, even in deepest pain and darkest suffering. (Job’s response to God & Jesus’ submission to His Father before, during & at the cross, comes to mind here too as further greater examples.) 

So, the ‘Respond to God’ step? It is definitely a broken but beautiful place to be in. And though everyone’s state of being at this step might be similar or different depending on how you are responding to God and what you are coming to Him for, so much powerful and positive C.H.A.N.G.E. can happen here, with Jesus. God responds to us when we turn to Him, no matter what state we’re in. But we too, need to make our choice if we want to respond to Him or not. 

In closing, perhaps one question we can take away from this is – What might you find relevant, to Grow or Respond in today, in your response to God towards greater healing or wholeness, at this time of your life? 

God, the wonderfully good author & perfecter of your faith and life bless you as you ponder, wonder, wrestle & respond, with Jesus. He loves & cares for you.

To God be the Glory.

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