The searching heart9 Jun 2020
Meaningful relationships with God rely on us going to where God is and placing ourselves in his loving presence.
‘Deep calls to deep in the
roar of Your waterfalls;
all Your waves
and breakers have swept
By day, the Lord
directs His love,
His song is within me,
a prayer to the God of my life.’
– (Psalm 42: 7-8)
It would be easy to convince ourselves that living a ‘Christian Life’ has everything to do with personal faithfulness, commitment and prayer life thus equating it to our own self-made efforts.
If we believe that this is all that is necessary to come closer to God, then Christian life becomes merely what we make of it. However, this is only part of the story. The full story is revealed when we make time to search the Scriptures, which speak to us of the God who seeks us out. The God who reaches deep into the recesses of our hearts and who longs to heal our inner woundedness.
How do we see our relationship with God? Some see their relationship with God primarily in terms of inner virtues. Others may see it as Christian discipleship within a framework for peace and justice. But to grow deeper in our relationship with God involves so much more. First and foremost, it is a relationship of shared love.
Love continually flows back and forth between God and us because that is the nature of love – it is reciprocal. Such love begins with God, and in freedom. And so, we too, are invited to accept this love, and in turn, to make our own corresponding response. Our response to this interior knowledge of the heart is to be able to love God in return.
Over the years, I have had many discussions with people who have shared with me how they longed to have a closer relationship with God. Many of them said that they frequently found themselves stymied by what they perceived as God’s silence.
What they often meant, perhaps without realising it, is that they would really have liked God to do something dramatic in their lives; something with a hint of the supernatural that would perhaps prove his credentials. Somehow, I believe, we already know that God does not normally work in this way. God is not going to knock us over to get closer to us. We already have the freedom to invite him into our lives or not.
We are living in an anxious and contradictory world. This may sound surprising in view of all the benefits of easier working conditions due to the advance in technology, more time for leisure, and more time for the pursuits of personal interest, etc. Conversely, that it is not surprising, is due to the nature of our contemporary living, which seems to be creating a culture where we are restless, demanding and ever seeking the impossible dream.
If we truly want to build a deep and meaningful relationship with God, we need to do more, we need, metaphorically, to go where God is and place ourselves in his loving presence. We need to enter into our own desert, our own place of reflection. A place of solitude and prayer. A place where we can seek the face of God and deepen our relationship with him. This place, for us, we trust will become our own precious place of encounter. And, difficult as it may be to do, we need to make this an important part of our day.
Only in this way can we hope to know him more deeply and to be able to receive the gifts which
he longs for us to receive. There is no real probability that we will wake up one morning with that certain feeling we have become friends with God, although, as we are aware – all things are possible to God.
ACTIVE, NOT PASSIVE
What he wants is to be loved and befriended by us – which means that we can’t remain passive partners in our relationship. We need to pursue Him and get to know Him as we would in any other deep and meaningful relationship.
The desire to deepen our relationship with God will be the beginning of a long journey for many of us. Yet, it is not, as some seekers would believe, a ‘final home-coming.’
At the same time, we may also find ourselves travelling along different paths, at varying speeds, and experiencing many obstacles along the way. We may be on different paths, but it is all the one journey.
These few words may help: At any time of the day or night we can call on God. He is always waiting, listening for our call. What a wonderful blessing. No phone needed, no emails, just a mere whisper . . .
This article first appeared in the Winter 2020 edition of Madonna magazine.