Wednesday, May 11, 2005

I'm back

I believe that God is loving, forgiving, and merciful. I believe that God's thoughts toward humans in general and me in particular are positive and that God wants the best for me. I believe that God is loving and accepting of us just as we are. And I believe these qualities of God supercede all others. I think it is highly significant that God decided to describe his relationship with us as that of a loving parent. I want the best for my children. And not just the essentials. I want them to have things. I want them to be happy. I want them to have a good life. And I don't want it for me. It is for them. Sure, happy children make life easier on parents. Yes, it would reflect well on me if my children were successful. But that is so secondary it is not even in my mind. I love my kids deeply and want them to be safe, healthy, and happy.
And Jesus himself said of earthly parents, "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" So, I believe God is loving and positive and caring toward the human race and toward ME.
And I also believe that God wants a relationship with me. God is at nature a relational being. See the Trinity for that. I believe that God makes the first move in any relationship with humans and is always
seeking communion with me. I believe that God wants to be known and wants us to seek him. God desires our company.
I also believe that communion with God is a deep (maybe the deepest) human need. We all need to believe in and be connected with something or someone transcendent to our world. We need someone bigger than our existence to make sense of it. We need to believe that there is a unifying factor, an underlying intelligence somewhere in the universe. We need to believe that everything is not random and cold and impersonal and senseless. And beyond this psychological or sociological need for God, I believe we were created for communion with God and that there is an empty place in our soul that longs for God.
But precisely here is the problem. If God wants to know me and be known to me, and the deepest need of my soul is to know God, why is that relationship such a problem? Why don't I commune with God all day every day? Why don't I seek God? Why don't I hear God's voice? Why is it so easy to live as if God is fiction?
Of course there is an easy answer: we are sinners. Our sin nature that we inherited from Adam and Eve has blurred the connection between us and God. Our natural inclinations are now bent away from God. But the need for God is still there. And that makes the conflict internal. I am my own opponent. I am my own obstacle to God; to my greatest good. Well, then, I know all this, and I have access to the problem (since I am the problem); then why don't I just make myself do what's right? Because if I do and I experience joyful communion with God, won't that whet my appetite for more? Won't that develop in me a taste for communion with God and it will become easier and easier for me to find time and make a priority of seeking God in prayer, Bible study, and communion?
This is not my experience. It is my experience that communion with God is not magnetic. It is not cummulative. It is intermittent. It is hit and miss.
But how is it supposed to be? Is communion with God supposed to be like medicine; we don't like it, but we force ourselves to take it because it is good for us? Isn't communion with God supposed to be like a love relationship? We respond to God's love with our love and we are all warm and fuzzy? (Or at lest we have a sense of well-being.) Besides, if the God of the universe loves us and is on our side, what could possibly be a problem? (Didn't Paul say something like this?) Of course, this brings up a whole different problem: if a loving God rules the universe, why isn't the world a more benign place (if not an overtly good one)? But that is not the problem I am discussing.
What is the matter with me? Why do I have such a wondering heart where God, the great lover of my soul, is concerned? The problem is that it is my nature to avoid God, to resist God. How do I know that? Because it is what I do. And I would venture to guess it is what you do, too. It is usually my nature to do things that are bad for me. It is my nature to piddle around when I need to hurry. It is my nature to put too much food on my plate. It is my nature to say things that I later regret. It is my nature to make poor decisions.
A book of the Bible that sheds light on my inability to focus on God is the book of Hosea. [Check out the book of Hosea here: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Hosea&vnum=yes&version=nrsvae] God told the prophet to marry a prostitute--someone who would be (and was) unfaithful to him. She was someone who would bear children he did not father. And all along Hosea was commanded to be faithful to her; to take her back every time she wandered away. I'm thankful for the book of Hosea, because that is me. I'm the unfaithful wife. I'm so thankful that God is the faithful lover, always willing to take me back. And Hosea does speak of a day when God will end Israel's unfaithfulness--when he will woo her with an irresistable and eternal love--and she will become faithful. So, I can look forward to a day in eternity when my wandering heart will find rest in God. Until that day I must discipline my soul to do what is best for me, remembering in my mind when I can't feel in my heart how good communion with God is.

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