I have been reading three books simultaneously over the past few weeks – Called to Reign by Leif Hetland, The Four Laws of Love by Jimmy Evans, and Jesus Came to Save Sinners by Charles Spurgeon. These books all have a slightly different focus, but what has been surprising to me is the presence of an overlapping theme between the three of them. The theme is that as followers of Christ, we are adopted into God’s family, that we need to rest in that truth, and to really understand what that means for our lives.
It was not part of my own plan to read all three of these books at once, nor was it my plan to read these three particular books. Actually, I made it a point to slow down on my intake of books and videos as a result from hearing God’s instruction to me personally, around the spring time of last year.
The first of these books was “assigned reading”, selected for me as part of a discipleship group I have been blessed to be part of. This was the book I had looked forward to diving into the most, and it is the book that I had planned on going through slowly to let Leif Hetland’s teachings permeate deep inside, and to allow the Lord to teach me things I could sense I really needed to know.
The second book was presented during a marriage conference that I attended earlier this year, the XO Conference, which blessed my wife and I greatly. The funny thing about this book is that I purchased it during the conference back on February 14th, even started listening to it (I purchased the audio book on Audible since I already had credits), but at that time it didn’t resonate with me, so I decided to set it aside for later.
Finally, the third book was available for free in the Amazon Kindle app, and I wanted to spend time reading and growing with one of my close friends. Ironically, I even started to believe that this third book was selected in my haste, and that I had picked the wrong book. Fortunately, my friend started diving into the book, and I found myself having to catch up to him in the material, and it has now become obvious that God’s hand has been guiding me, as usual.
Leif’s book applies a focus on sonship in the family of God, that we can rest in His gifts to us, and that there’s no work required to earn God’s love or His redemptive work to bring us back into His original designs and good purposes for our lives. However, Leif teaches that most of us as Christians still live as “orphans”, not understanding the provisions that being adopted into God’s family actually provides for our lives.
In Jimmy Evan’s book on marriage, he teaches us about both the priority that our wives / spouses should have in our lives, as well as the priority that God needs to take in our lives above all other things.
“Anyone can say god is first in his or her life. But our daily prayer and devotional times, our tithes and offerings, honoring the Sabbath, church attendance, and so forth prove if we are sincere. Those important disciplines also protect God’s place in our lives on an ongoing basis.”The Four Laws of Love, by Jimmy Evans, XO Publishing, 2019, pp. 85-86.
Later in the book, Jimmy Evans actually addresses the orphan spirit, and gives a concrete example that relates to the previous quote. This example was given as it relates to tithing, which is something I have struggled with tremendously. It is no coincidence that my time spent in disparate readings have intersected in this way. Here’s what Jimmy has to say about the manifestation of an orphan spirit:
When [Jimmy’s wife] Karen started giving, we had more money. There is no way for me to explain it. But month after month as she gave to the church, I noticed very specific things happening for us that had never happened before. And one morning I woke up and said to myself “God knows us. He knows where we live, and He knows what we need. He cares about us!”
That was one of the most important days of my life and one that I will never forget. Without knowing it, I had developed an orphan spirit. Orphans have to have too much to feel like they have enough because they have to care for themselves. That is why Karen’s giving terrified me. I saw money as a static instrument that was essential for survival. Giving any of it away seemed crazy to me. Especially when we had to make it on six hundred dollars a month.
We actually had more money after tithing than we did before. But that wasn’t the big thing. The big thing was I met God through giving. My orphan spirit was healed, and I realized my Father was the richest Person in the universe. He loved me and involved Himself in my life as my provider.The Four Laws of Love, by Jimmy Evans, XO Publishing, 2019, pp. 147-148.
This was particularly revealing to me, as tithing has been a significant area of unrest in my life. Thanks to both Leif Hetland and Jimmy Evans, I am beginning to realize areas of my life where I am living like an orphan rather than living as a son of the Most High King.
I started to wake up to the fact that God was trying to show me something when these same concepts showed up in all three books. As I was reading Jesus Came to Save Sinners, Charles Spurgeon begins to lay out his case for resting before the truths that it was God’s love for us that initiated everything. We could not have done anything to earn that, and God did it despite our poor and “terrible” condition.
What Charles Spurgeon writes about here is what Leif Hetland calls the “second chair” position that Christians take up inadvertently in their lives:
Many remain in the dark spiritually for years because they say they have no power, but in actuality what they need to do is give up all their own power and rest in the power of another − the Lord Jesus.Spurgeon, Charles H.. Jesus Came to Save Sinners: An Earnest Conversation with Those Who Long for Salvation and Eternal Life . Aneko Press. Kindle Edition.
When we trust in Christ, when we turn our will and our lives over to His care and His guidance, we become children of God. ” But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, ” (John 1:12) This seems so simple, and to paraphrase Charles Spurgeon, we need to let this truth wash over us, we need to stand in it, and when we do it will transform us.