When we were discussing the subject of spending time with God, on a daily basis, at our house group the comment/question was raised that “if I’ve not spoken to family/close friends I really want to catch up and keep in touch with them – why is it that we can struggle with feeling the same way about our relationship with God?”
There was a fair bit of discussion and then I had a sudden flash of inspiration – believe me, it sometimes happens!
Most of us are fortunate to have grown up with a healthy relationship with family and/or close friends. That’s a daily thing that has been a part of our lives since the day we were born. If, like me, you don’t start out life in a Christian household (we started going to church when I was about 9 and for a time it was a “Sunday thing” for me) then you won’t have grown up with that daily relationship with your Heavenly Father.
As a result of this, it requires work to have that daily connection with God. It requires effort. It requires time. All of which we can sometimes be reluctant to commit to in the midst of our hectic lives. We’ve always got something else to distract us and pull our attention: the kids, the housework, the job, the family, the TV, the Xbox. You get the idea.
When I got married, and indeed when I was dating the lovely Mrs H, it quickly became routine to be in daily contact with my better half. If I’m ever away then there’s at least 1 or more phone calls. When I get up in a morning to come to work and my wife is in bed, I always text her to say good morning. Because of my love for her, and the value I place on our relationship, I crave that daily contact and I honestly cannot think of a single day in nearly 12 years of marriage when there hasn’t been some form of communication and contact between us. I honestly think there hasn’t been a single day when we haven’t spoken – genuinely and truthfully I have spoken to my wife every day.
I think it’s sometimes difficult for us to apply that same raw emotion and depth of feeling to God. Sometimes it’s easier to love something/someone tangible and physical. Love for God can somehow feel higher, nobler and above the baser feelings we have for family. It’s so simple to try and spiritualise and not pursue a more familiar type of relationship with God.
The thing is – He is our Father. He is Abba which means DADDY. It doesn’t mean Father, a word which can sometimes sound aloof, it means daddy. It’s a word that conjures memories of being a young boy and playing with my dad. Play wrestling, time spent playing chess and backgammon, listening to War of the Worlds on original vinyl. It’s a word that brings emotions of joy at visiting my daddy at work, and the smile on his face when he sees me. It’s a word that speaks of a stable, protective and strong presence – but also of gentleness, tenderness and love.
I know that for people who haven’t known that kind of relationship with their earthly father, this can seem beyond comprehension. I know for some people daddy was a figure of fear, whilst for others he was completely absent and an unknown entity. That’s something I’m going to pray about and pick up later on in a future post – it’s not something I want to rush blindly into as I know it’s a big, no huge, issue.
The image of the Father in the Prodigals Return is technically an image of Christ rather than God – let’s not go into the technicalities though as it is still a hugely important image. When the prodigal returned, the father saw him coming and RAN. There are cultural reasons for that, but also cultural implications. A father did NOT run. It was undignified, below them, a child’s activity not a mans. But that image of the father running speaks of compassion, love, protection and more – it’s how God, our Daddy, sees us.
If we manage to grasp even the smallest part of that, then it has the potential to completely shake up our relationship with God. To personalise it. To bring a new level of intimacy and connection. Taking hold of that should give us a desire and eagerness to be with our Heavenly Daddy.
It may be a struggle at first – new relationships require work, and building a deeper relationship with anybody takes time and effort. As we start to build that connection, as we make that effort to be with our Daddy, it will get easier and it will become something that we want and desire – not something that is a chore.
The end result is a relationship full of joy beyond imagining, intimacy beyond earthly comprehension, life to its fullest extreme.