“We all hunger for good relationships, for love relationships – these places inside of us that come alive in relationships. Relationships are amazing.” – Renee Worcester
Story by Rick Vacek
Photos by Travis Neely
GCU News Bureau
The self-help books make it sound so easy. Do this and this. Don’t do that and that and that. Yet those same books wouldn’t be in such demand if most human beings could relate to the concept of a healthy relationship.
Amazing? Relationships are more like a maze, as Don and Renee Worcester of Young Life noted Monday morning in their first Chapel talk to students and staff at Grand Canyon University Arena.
But the couple that leads conferences and retreats on marriage around the country led listeners on a different path through that maze, a path that starts and ends with God.
“God is the designer of relationship,” Renee said, “and He loves relationship.”
Accordingly, there’s no shortage of Bible verses on the subject. Look online and you can find just about any number of someone’s “favorites,” from seven all the way to 57.
It was a central focus of life then, just as it is now. But these days it seems so much more complicated.
“There are so many places in the Bible that talk about relationship and the kind of relationship that God calls us into,” Renee said, “but when we’re doing them they don’t seem to go in the ways that we think they’re going to go and the words that the Bible describes about it don’t match up (with) our experience of relationship. And that’s pretty disorienting. …
“If God promises us one thing and yet when we’re in relationship this whole other thing happens, what’s the breakdown? What has happened?”
As a reference point, the Worcesters used the fourth chapter of John, in which Jesus talked with the Samaritan woman at the well. He knew all about her five ex-husbands. He knew she was with yet another man.
“But He was most concerned about her,” Don said.
The passage raises the issue of going back again and again for mere well water in our lives rather than seeking Christ’s living water for true healing.
“The truth is, for her and for us, we cannot be in any kind of relationship that’s healthier than we are,” Renee said.
The result too often? Our deepest desires and our deepest fears both come out. The former can push us into a relationship that’s not right. The latter can push out of a relationship that works.
Today’s culture doesn’t help, Don pointed out. He called this generation the most distracted ever and said that leads to a tendency to find a relationship just to have one.
“You don’t get well drinking well water,” he said.
And that, in turn, results in a strange combination of muted feelings while trying to seem cool and collected.
“If we’re numb on the inside and we’re detached on the outside and we’re totally distracted, is it possible to have really great relationships? And Jesus says to this woman and to us, it’s absolutely possible,” Don said.
Renee told the story of how, when she and Don were dating, she asked him for some assurance that it was going to work out. It’s up to God, he told her.
“Oddly,” she said, “it was the most insecure and secure place I’ve had at the same time.”
The reason? It wasn’t something that could be manipulated. Instead, it would have to flow naturally. The relationship would navigate the maze with God’s help.
Don said his favorite saying is from a 4-year-old named Billy: “When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.”
Leave it to a toddler to take it to a place that self-help books don’t go. But there’s another place to go with it.
“I think Jesus is saying my name and your name this morning. I think He says our names all the time,” Don said. “Have you heard Him say your name?
“If it’s His voice, it will be a voice of love, and you will know … that your name is safe in His mouth.
“You will know that your life is safe in His hands.
“You will know that your future is safe with Him.”
● Here’s a replay of Monday’s Chapel.
● Next Monday’s speaker is Dr. Tim Griffin, Pastor and Dean of Students.
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].