Long-distance relationships are hard. I should know: I’m currently in a long distance relationship with the cutest six-pound white fluffy puppy on the planet. On a serious note, my boyfriend just returned from a semester studying abroad in England while I was in Tennessee. So for three months our relationship consisted of FaceTime calls and good old-fashioned emails.
Yet the hardest long-distance relationship I’m currently in is the one I feel between myself and God. Let me be clear: I love the Lord; I’ve been a Christian for my whole life and I’m definitely not walking away from my faith. Lately though, I’ve been slacking on my Christian ‘duties’. I haven’t spent time with God like I should, or like I usually want to. I still talk about Him, think about Him and worship Him in a corporate setting, but my own personal time with Him in my daily life has gone missing.
As the time since my last real personal encounter with Lord grows, so too does the distance between us. It’s my fault. He doesn’t want the distance to be there. I don’t want it to be either, but for some reason I put it there.
So how do I remove the distance? Do I jump back into my relationship with the Lord like nothing happened, or do I apologetically crawl back to Him with my head bowed to the ground? Do I find new resources that will make my previously stagnant quiet times (which is probably why I gave up on them) go deeper, or do I go straight to the Word?
But maybe this relationship isn’t meant to be a one-way street. You see, I feel distant to God because I haven’t done anything lately that would make us close. But I’m not the only one in this relationship with the power to bring us closer. Instead of putting further distance between us because I feel guilty for not putting in the work, I could slow down, let go of the shame and start to recognise the sound of God knocking on the door of my heart. He loved me first, and instead of focusing on the work that it takes to maintain our relationship, I can just let Him love me.
I’m not saying that quiet times, reading scripture and sacrificing time to be with the Lord aren’t important (quite the opposite, actually). In focusing on doing those good works to fulfil your Christian duties, your desire for a relationship will run dry (and in my case, time spent with Him will become selfish and stagnant).
An authentic relationship involves two people. It’s ok to relax and let ourselves experience how much God loves us. His love will prompt us to love Him back and desire to spend time with Him. His love will take us into a deeper relationship with Him. His love will transform us to become more like Him. I don’t think we can do that on our own. We definitely can’t do it by our works.
This is what I need to work on right now. I need to free myself from the idea that my works will bring me closer to God, and instead walk in the knowledge that He loves me, and I want to spend time with Him because of the love we share for each other. I also need to free myself from the guilt of this past month of silence, and just accept His love for me. His love is healing, gracious and understanding. Our relationship isn’t about duties or checklists. Our relationship is about love.
Photo credit: Ansel Adams