My dad thought I was wonderful. My grandfather and uncle doted on me. My two older half brothers were very protective; my little brother made us tea & toast for our Saturday cartoons. I had a lot of boy cousins who shared their super-hero comic books and to this day, I'll take an action movie over a chick-flick. In high school, the boys were respectful; the geek squad in the grade ahead said I was "angelic" and even our class thug was always respectful and protective of me. When my husband and I started dating, he joined the spoil-her club. If I could have had more children, I would enjoy having all boys.
You can see why I love men. I love their conversations, I love their simplicity, their energy and I love how everything's black and white with them. Because of the good relationships with men that I had growing up, it was very easy for me to relate to God as Father and Jesus as Brother and Holy Spirit as Friend & Guide.
Our relationship with the Lord is compared to many kinds of earthly relationships: friend, protector, lover, husband. His love for us is extremely passionate. When a person first enters into this new Divine relationship, they often become zealous with a crazy, enthusiastic, consuming passion. They want to learn all they can, they hunger to know all there is, and they want to tell everyone they meet all about Him.
But I would venture to guess, that like most relationships, there comes a cooling off. And where do you go from there? Once, after a series of bitter disappointments, I told the Lord - I think we should break up & just be friends.
Do those words bring back high school memories? Did you ever say them?
After I said that (and I wasn't serious, just making a point in a desperate moment) I wondered - could you break up with God & "just be friends"????
I really pondered that for several months and my conclusion was - yes, and some people probably should. You're thinking whaaat?
When you break up with the religion of trying to be a good Christian, of trying to earn God's love and forgiveness, of turning discipleship into some kind of charismatic voodoo, then He can really begin to lay a solid foundation of relationship with you, and it starts with authentic friendship.
My husband and I started out as friends in marching band our freshmen year. In our Jr. year, we started 'going steady.' We went to college in different cities but kept our relationship going with letters, phone calls, and meeting on the weekend in our hometown. That was before the internet and cell phones. You really had to work at it!
After 4 years of dating we got married. That was 38 years ago. Those 6 years of friendship and dating were heady, passionate, romantic, zealous young love. But truthfully, things could have fallen apart easily at any time because trust is still being built during that phase of a relationship.
It's like preparing the ground before you lay the foundation for a house. But the foundation wasn't magically finished just because we got married. It probably took another 10 years to complete that part and there was still more to do. There's the framing, the inside, furnishing, landscaping, maintaining, improving, remodeling....You're never done building a house. You're never done building a marriage.
What does that have to do with "just being friends with God"?
I think our relationship with the Lord is always evolving, too. Friendship, passion, intimacy, trust, contentment, knowing. I think people who stay in the puppy love phase of their Christian walk, always trying to live on the mountain top experiences, never grow up. It's not natural; it's not going to last. There is eventually going to be disappointment. This is when some people's hearts turn cool. They don't lose their salvation but they've lost their joy.
When your faith-walk is founded on a friendship-relationship with God, it will carry you through the valleys of the journey and into the next phase. Eventually puppy love will grow into mature love.
Mature love - those words bring up boring images of an old married couple in the mind of a 20-30 year old. If you're over 40 and reading this, only you will understand the satisfaction of that kind of depth.
In the early years of marriage, I trusted my husband to be faithful. At some point, I don't know when, that changed to where I trust him because he IS faithful. It's not in him to be anything but, and I know that.
When you reach mature love with the Lord, no matter what happens, you don't have to hope that God will be faithful to take care of you and see you through hard times. You don't have to rattle off every positive confession scripture you can think of. Mature love means resting in knowing He IS faithful. There's a difference.
How do you get there? Memorizing scripture? Running down the list of "In Him Realities" you got in Sunday School? Learning the Greek or Hebrew meanings for this or that word? Singing praise and worship songs? Praying an hour a day?
That's all part of it. None of those actions alone will develop mature love. But they work together to accomplish what Jesus called ABIDING.
And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:16
Abide - no deep meaning in the original Greek. It means just what you think: remain, continue, dwell, live-with.
It's a continual living with the Lord; walking, talking, dreaming, planning, discussing, disagreeing, making up, living and breathing under the same roof day in and day out until the moment He takes you by the hand and walks you right into glory - where you will abide with Him forever.
If you're in a religious relationship with God, I urge you to break up and start again by just being friends.