A couple of months ago I got to go see my Atlanta Braves take on the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. On my way back I received a phone call from a good friend of mine who was on holiday with his family visiting friends in the cool crevices of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. I asked him how he was enjoying himself and he replied with a chuckle and said “really well. Amanda (his wife) is out with some friends and I spent the whole day playing with Cole (his 2 year old son). We went to the toy store and I bought him a bunch of different toys to play with.” I asked him if he bought them for Cole because he had been good on the trip so far and he replied, “nope, I just wanted to buy him some toys.”
The theme of my life right now, the stuff motivating me at least, is not an uncommon factor among my generation. I want my life to matter. Sure as a child of God I can cliché my way through life saying, “Patrick, you do matter to God. He cares about you and loves you.” But the truth is, I don’t believe it sometimes. I struggle with reconciling a relationship with someone I can’t hug, can’t look at and can’t communicate with in a ‘regular’ way. How can I matter to someone who I don’t even know that well? Or do I?
I thought about my friend’s story, how as a dad he wanted to lavish his love upon his son, not because Cole did anything to earn those gifts, but because his dad wanted to make him smile, to make him happy.
And then I thought about my amazing girlfriend, who comes into my mind at least 14 times a day. I love her for a number of reasons, but somehow just knowing that isn’t enough. I want to tell her using the most expensive words I can find how beautiful she is and how she fulfills my life in ways no one else can. And I want every opportunity I can get to give her presents whether it’s a special occasion or not. I want to make her happy.
What if our relationship with God was like that? What if we didn’t try to please Him because we had to but rather because pleasing Him pleased us? Yes, his son’s sacrifice was the most ultimate gift He could give us and He should be worth it for that alone. But there was a time when God existed and He hadn’t made that sacrifice. When Jesus was doing his Son of God, Son of Man stuff for 33 years, his endgame was what we long for, to please His father, to make Him proud. And his satisfaction came from this.
I wonder how different our relationship with Him would be if we didn’t base it on how good or bad or long our quiet times were or because we struggle with knowing God’s will for our lives, but rather on how much we wanted to know more of the mysteries of who He is? Our relationship with Him shouldn’t be that different than the ones we have with each other. That mystery exists in every significant relationship we have. It’s what motivated me to pursue Krecia beyond a friendship, taking a risk and making myself vulnerable to whatever she may have said. Risk is part of the mystery. It’s what makes it adventurous. We are constantly learning more about each other and as a result enjoy the intimacy that comes with it. To hear her say I’m her best friend and that she trusts me is incredible. It makes me want to be more of those things for her.
Why does our relationship with God have to be so different? Maybe it’s because we can’t see/touch Him like a regular person. Maybe it’s because He’s God and His supernatural prowess is intimidating. I confess that these factors get in my way.
But maybe it’s because we don’t believe that we can have the kind of intimate, valuable and enjoyable relationship with Him that we do with others (perhaps because we haven’t experienced that with those close to us, but that’s a rabbit worth chasing another day). In my journey through life, I’m discovering that this is a lie from the Enemy.
If we believe that we were created by God, that we have a bit of His fingerprint embedded in each of us, it makes sense to pursue Him with nothing less than who we are. And we can do that in the ways in which we pursue each other. We can talk to Him, interact with Him and approach Him with the same value and confidence that we do with each other. We didn’t do anything to deserve God’s love. Why should our love for Him be any different?
Loving God because we want to? What a concept. Almost sounds like Grace 🙂