Today we're excited to talk with Bill Paradise, author of You and God: How to Build the Most Important Relationship of Your Life.
FQ: In part one you talk about your "great purpose and waking up to your
spiritual reality". Would you say that, when your personal relationship
with God started taking shape (in 1975), you were keenly aware of that
awakening of your spirit, at that time? Or was that a feeling or awareness
that needed to be nourished and developed over time?
Unless someone experiences an unusual and dramatic event in their life,
the process of waking up to one's spiritual reality is definitely
gradual, and shaped by many experiences over time. That was surely true for
me. And you most certainly have to work at it. I quote Rick Warren as
saying just that. Very few people fall in love instantly. They "work" at
building their relationship. For the vast majority of us it's the same with
God. We have to work at building our relationship with Him.
FQ: You mentioned that while driving down a stretch of I-64, in West Virginia
(in 1996), you were initially inspired to write "You and God". Can you go
into a little more detail for your readers?
My wife and I were returning from a brief vacation. (Our kids were young
adults by then and not with us.) I was driving, my wife was asleep. I found
myself asking God what He wanted me to do with the rest of my life, beyond
continuing to work at my career. A few miles down the road I felt an
answer was coming, namely, that I should write a book, and the topic
should be about relating to Him. Obviously I didn't take it as just another
random thought; I took it seriously and acted on it. Now the title didn't
come to me until a number of years later. In fact, it took some 13 years
to write the book. It went through three major restarts. To me this is
analogous to the spiritual life itself, which is rarely a straight line
path of progress, but rather full of starts, stops and turns. It's all part
of the "great adventure" of having God be a real part of your life.
FQ: You talk about the different images we all have of God. Would you
describe or explain what your image of God is?
As kids many of us were supplied with an image of God as a scowling
figure with a long grey beard, sitting on a throne. I'm afraid too many
adults subconsciously retain this image, and it's so far from the truth.
Humans tend to deal only in the physical and mental realms of reality.
God is spiritual reality and that's a challenge for us to grasp. I don't
think He has any shape or size or visual characteristics, the things that
cause us to form images of people. So I try not to create a physical image
of God in my mind. Instead, I think of Him as an all-loving Presence.
Of course, a major theme of the book involves waking up to one's spiritual
reality because we also are spiritual creatures, though not totally
spiritual as God is.
FQ: In part three, "tools for your relationship," you talk about giving
(emotionally, physically, financially, and spiritually). There are natural
givers and those needing to take action in their lives. What would you say
has been one of your most rewarding acts of giving, thus far?
My wife and I have always tried to maintain a giving mentality. Right
now we both do volunteering. I visit patients in the Indianapolis veterans
hospital and answer phones in a local organization that assists people who
can't pay their rent, utility bills and other basic necessities. I find both
activities highly rewarding. A key point stated in the book is that giving
is not optional with God. If we want to have a personal relationship with
Him, we've got to have a giving mentality - even though the giving may take
many different forms.
FQ: You talk a lot about the difficulties that we all face in life, in part
four. I think this area in your book really hits home, especially regarding
stress, and how it affects each of us differently. Do you have any
suggestions, as far as scripture/passages from the Bible, that you could
recommend to help your readers understand that God is always with us, to
help us cope and grow in Him?
I am not what you would call a student of the Bible, although I do read
it. (Currently I'm reading the Psalms and enjoying them a lot.) For me,
dealing with stress largely involves my daily relationship with God.
When I am in touch with Him I find that stress tends not to be
much of a factor. If stress returns for me, I eventually wake up and
realize it's because I have drifted away from talking with God. My life
happens to be pretty stress-free at this stage, but I'm well aware many
people endure unbelievable amounts of stress. The best relief I know of
is to start relating to God on a daily basis and start discussing one's
stress with Him.
FQ: Part five of your book brings us to another major topic regarding "life
issues"; and that is forgiveness. You tell us that it is a "profound virtue
and incredibly important to God," and I can't agree more! Is there anything
more that you can add to this mini chapter that will help your readers to
really grasp the importance of forgiveness? Not only towards others, but
towards themselves, also? Is there a specific book, in the Bible, that goes
into detail regarding forgiveness? Maybe a special, inspirational reference
that you wouldn't mind sharing with your readers?
One of my favorite quotes in the book is from Richard Rohr,
who says, "If you look at your life and I look at mine, we'll both
see that we have taken delight in holding people in unforgiveness...
That is exactly, I believe, what God does not do." I like the quote
because it's so honest, so accurate. As human beings we often carry
around a lot of unforgiveness in our hearts. In some cases we might
even wallow in it. Forgiveness is very important to God. When we
harbor unforgiveness we need to sit down with Him and seriously
talk about it. It may not happen overnight, but He will give us the
grace to forgive. As for the Bible, God's forgiveness is a dominant
theme throughout both the Old and New Testaments.
FQ: "You and God" is such a wonderfully inspirational "how to" book for all
of us readers who desire more in life...an intimate relationship with God!
Do you have plans for another inspirational book?
The answer is really up to God and I can't tell what He has in mind
at the moment. I feel strongly that this first book is God's work much
more so than mine. He inspired it originally, and kept it going all along
the way. I had a lot of other stuff going on in my life during the
thirteen years it took to write it, so if it had been up to me I
probably would have given it up at some point. That could easily have
happened one of those times when I started it all over. Recently I have
had thoughts about a second book on a completely different, non-spiritual
topic which I think could benefit a lot of people. That one, if it happens,
will be up to God also.
To learn more about You and God: How to Build the Most Important Relationship of Your Life please visit our website and read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.