Her relationship with God had grown cold over the years. Susan (not her real name) hadn’t walked away from God. She simply had not walked towards him. After years of trying to be a “good Christian girl”, the passion was gone.
Can I see a show of hands? Anyone else been there? I’m guessing a number of you are there right now. After all those years of trying to follow the rules, you feel hollow inside. Something went wrong somewhere. You can’t put your finger on it, but you know something has changed. You don’t know when it happened, but one day you realized God was not that big of a deal anymore.
Have you noticed that couple in the restaurant that sits across from each other in silence? We’ve all seen them. It’s not an icy silence. They are not angry. It is a cold distance borne of disinterest. A relationship where the flame has died.
For many of us, that is our relationship with God. At one time we were in love. We couldn’t get enough of God. We simply wanted to be in his presence. To talk to him. To feel the electricity of his closeness. So what happened? Where did it all go wrong?
So I asked Susan about how she talked to God. She said her “prayer life” wasn’t very good. She just didn’t have a lot to say to him. Prayer was pretty much relegated to her “quiet time”. Susan would try to remove all distractions and focus on God, but there was nothing. Since her “time with God” was not lighting any fires, I thought I would take her in a different direction.
“Susan, picture yourself in a car with a close friend. The radio is playing a song you haven’t heard in awhile. You’re keeping under the speed limit and touching the brake pedal as the light turns yellow. You check your mirrors regularly. All the while, you keep a running conversation going. Everything around you is background noise to what is most important; talking with someone you love to be with.”
“Now imagine that close friend as Jesus. Talk to him in the middle of everything going on in your life. Speak to him casually. Address him like someone sitting right there.”
She was processing, so I sat silent for a few moments. She fixed her eyes on mine.
“It’s like I’m in the car with my neighbor.” She paused as she searched for the right words. “Instead of going on a long road trip down the coast with my fiancée.”
I wasn’t ready for that at all. But I figured I could go with it.
“Susan, you know what the difference is? Your neighbor doesn’t really care that much. She’s got a lot on her mind and is hoping to get home soon. She’s half listening, but is also thinking about her kids back home and all the things she needs to do today.”
“Your fiancée, on the other hand, can’t get enough of you. He wants to know what makes you tick. He cares what you had for breakfast and why you’re nervous talking to strangers. He hopes you are in the first half of the road trip and not the last half, because he doesn’t want it to ever end. There are cars all around, but that one glance says you are the only person in the world.”
“That is just a taste of God’s love for you.”
She didn’t respond verbally, but the tears said it all.
Susan keeps good company. I would guess that most of us see God as a distracted neighbor. The current economic crisis is certainly enough to keep his attention for a while. What if we saw him for who he really is? What if we started viewing him as someone who will find any excuse to be with us? Who longs to hear our hearts. Who thinks that listening to our deepest fears is worth the time.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!
I can't even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
Ps 139:17-18 NLT
Are you ready for a road trip?