Having had an argument with my eighteen year old son about responsibility, there is now an icy chill in our house.
It’s weird, because I love that boy more than I ever imagined possible, but right now he thinks I’m unfair and he feels that I’m not seeing his point of view. I just want him to own it, take action for the future and apologise. Today is going to be uncomfortable for a while.
It strikes me that we spend vast amounts of our time feeling that God, who loves us far more than we can imagine, doesn’t really see our point of view. We’re so often not absolutely convinced that He’s on our side. There is a perception that He listens to us with a slightly jaundiced eye, while shaking his head slightly and, probably, clucking disapprovingly from time to time.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Our relationship with Him, all too often, has a slight chill of formality to it. We feel that He wants to hear particular forms of words, and we feel that if He doesn’t hear those words in the right way then He doesn’t want to hear what we have to say.
Which just isn’t true.
We are loved. Sometimes we lose the grasp of how very loved we are. Right now, all I want to do is to hug my boy, and actually, that’s also the bulk of what God wants to do with us.
Notwithstanding those times when James and I are uncomfortable about something that either of us might have done wrong, we normally seem to be at our best when we’re doing stuff together, whether it’s driving, walking, cooking or whatever else; on those occasions he can be witty, kind, and thoughtful, there’s lots of laughter and we can be comfortable in each other’s company. But at eighteen years old there are vast swathes of his life that I am not allowed to share. So many things that he’d rather not talk to me about; so many things that I’d love to hear about, would love to be a part of, but, for the moment I am excluded from.
I have to wonder whether, in the same way, God feels excluded from vast areas of my life too. I am certain that He loves doing stuff with me – maybe because that’s when I’m at my most open with Him – not just the big stuff like caring for people and sharing the Gospel, but doing the little stuff too. Chatting with him while I drive, cook, do the laundry, go for a walk; just being with Him. Some of the most blessed prayer time I have spent with my prayer partner has been when we were short of time, so rather than discuss what we wanted to pray about and then praying, we simply invited God to join us at the beginning of a walk – and he was there, with us, part of the conversation.
Nor is prayer something we should ever feel guilty about, in terms either of how we do it or how often we do it. It is something that should be enjoyable, comforting, heart-warming and empowering. It’s ok to express our anger with God at times, and when we are absolutely honest about what’s going on in our lives, for better or worse, we delight Him more than we realise. Our Lord God is on our side, and those of us who get to realise all this become the great prayer warriors – not because they have more commitment or staying power than the rest of us…
But because they’ve discovered who God really is.