How is your relationship going?
What is the first relationship that came to mind for you when you read that question?
What is it about that relationship right now that brings it to the forefront of your thoughts?
We have all kinds of relationships that we participate in on a daily basis. Some of them are very superficial and fleeting like the cashier at the store or the bank teller at the window; some of these we may never encounter again. Other relationships are formed around particular events, groups or situations like co-workers, classmates or sports programs. These are the ones in which you share a common purpose, goal or experience.
Then there are those that are closest to us. These are the ones that have been with us through a variety of times and experiences. These are the ones in which they know you at your worst and at your best. These are the ones in which we are most vulnerable and yet at the same time are the most vital to our lives.
Last week, I reflected on forming our faith relationship with God through scripture. A few days later, I was reading a book by Barbara Brown Taylor (The Preaching Life) that reflected on just this relationship (as an aside - its not just about preaching nor only for preachers). She writes in a chapter on the Bible:
My relationship with the Bible is not a romance but a marriage, and one I am willing to work on in all the usual ways: by living with the text day in and day out, by listening to it and talking back to it, by making sure I know what is behind the words it speaks to me and being certain I have heard I properly, by refusing to distance myself from the parts of it I do not like or understand, by letting my love for it show up in the in the everyday acts of my life. The Bible is not an object for me; it is a partner, whose presence blesses me, challenges me, and affects everything that I do.
Take this paragraph and replace it with the person who first came to mind for you at the beginning of this blog. How is that relationship reflected here?
Again, replace the Bible with your favorite name for God. What of your relationship with God finds its meaning or substance here?
All relationships take work and intentionality. The "happily ever after's" are only found in children's storybooks. Relationships of substance are gritty and down to earth. They have good days and bad days. There are times when you feel as if you know each other deeply and other days when you feel disconnected. Relationships evolve and change with each new day, experience and situation. They are not static.
The same is true for our relationship with God. Scripture itself exhibits this as a particular passage will reveal new insights about ourselves and this relationship as we grow and change. Take for instance the passage from Joshua 24:15 (As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord). This takes on a different flavor as you move from your parents' home into your own or even as you find that you need to then move into a place like assisted living. The sense of home changes as well as the ways in which you are being called to serve the Lord.
We are called into this ever evolving relationship with God. Our faith may seem as if it wavers, but it is going through growing pains and growth spurts. We are invited to this marriage with God through scripture that we may know God more deeply as well as ourselves. This relationship then offers us guidance, strength and insight into the other relationships with which we are entrusted.
Look again at the questions at the beginning of this blog. How would you answer then according to your relationship with God? How has this relationship evolved or changed? How is it like a marriage?
We remember the power of this relationship in the word of the Lord that the prophet Isaiah shares (43:4) You are precious in my sight and honored and I love you.