As I listen to people’s conversations about God, I’m always interested in hearing how they view their relationship with God. More times than not what I hear are details about what God is doing in their lives via the great gifts he’s giving them or perhaps even the opposite – those things they perceive as ‘needs-to-be-filled’ for which they’re praying/waiting.
Certainly it is true that the gifts of God are many, and that God knows everything – ranging from our needs to the desires of our hearts – before we even utter a thought regarding them. And I believe it is true that God blesses us with a constant stream of gifts so numerous that many of them are taken for granted: our senses of sight and sound, taste and touch, sunrises and sunsets, friends and family. The list is infinite, really.
Even so, in the midst of all of this great gifting, we would benefit from pausing to give ourselves a heart-check:
Do we sometimes mistake the gifts of God for a relationship with God?
In other words, how much of our thought-world regarding God is based upon some sort of give-and-take relationship (God gives, we take)?
Relationships, even the most common, are rigorously complex. How much more a relationship with a Source infinite in being-ness… not only that, but one who does not audibly respond to the persistent dialogue and chatter of our minds?
We have our sacred texts. We have our intuitions. We have spiritual friendships and perhaps fellowships. We have an inner consciousness or spirit upon which we draw for understanding of how God might be guiding us. But ultimately what we really have is a well-intentioned faith that somehow continues to draw us nearer to the heart of what we perceive as “G-D.”
Maybe this is why people of faith so often frame their relationship with God based upon how they perceive they are being blessed by abundance or lack, or by what doors are being opened versus closed and why all that might be. Maybe it’s just easier to frame things this way because these seem to be a more concrete way of keeping score with whether we are walking with God or not – maybe they are the closest to a tangible response we can discern or discover?
But is this way of relation with God really relational? Are there other ways to have relationship that might take us more deeply into the way of this mysterious G-O-D we seek?
For instance, when I think of a relationship with God, I think of how I understand God’s unfolding or Presence within the universe. If God is love as my sacred text (the Bible) declares, then what does love do and what does love look like in action? This is an important question because when I seek to answer it by the way I live my life, in a very real and concrete way I am joining with and entering more deeply into my relationship with God: Sort of a ‘like father, like son’ kind of relationship.
By framing relationship with God in a way that calls me to enable God to extend into the world through me, I am opening myself up to be more relationally involved with God as God’s love becomes my love – and the same with God’s empathy, compassion, peacemaking, forbearance, embrace, etc.
And so as each day comes to a close I can sit back and reflect upon the ways and depth of my relationship with God via my participation in God’s activity and presence. The gifts of God are still there, but they are secondary to the ultimate and deeply intertwined call to be God to a world so much in need of God’s presence, of God’s touch.