Have you ever felt that a relationship with God is hard to maintain?
Like, you know you should be reading the Bible regularly, praying before you sleep at night … But admit it: You aren’t as involved as you should be.
There are always distractions – your friends, your family, your studies/work. And like any other relationship, it’s hard to go deeper with God when you’re not spending much time together, or just talking to each other.
It’s so hard because other people who are competing for our time are physically present, but He’s … not.
How does one build relationship with someone who seems so far away?
I think we need to recognise is that our relationship with God was never meant to be easy.
In fact, I liken our relationship with God to a long-distance relationship (LDR).
We all know that LDRs are challenging. For couples living in different time zones, they’ll have to be even more intentional with scheduling specific periods of talk-time. It may also require one party to stay up at an unearthly hour, while the other wakes up at the break of dawn.
I’ve heard advice from LDR couples that includes updating each other throughout the day rather than summarising it in a phone call at night, so as to virtually incorporate the partner into one’s daily life.
As you can see, LDR requires a lot more intentionality than the average face-to-face relationship.
So why doesn’t our relationship with God feel easy? Because it isn’t!
Will our temporary physical separation from God make our hearts grow fonder or forgetful?
The Bible says that we are aching to be reunited with God (Romans 8:23). But instead of expecting things to work like a “normal” relationship – and these need a good deal of effort too! – perhaps we should understand that the most important relationship in our lives requires LDR-level commitment for as long as we want to remain and grow in it.
Separation does things to people. But will our temporary physical separation from God make our hearts grow fonder or forgetful?
I believe that for any couple in an LDR, it’s a mixture of the two phases. At times, you’ll miss each other like crazy. Other times, you’re solely consumed with your present, physical reality that you “forget” your significant other.
Both sides of the coin of separation have their own difficulties, and are reasons why LDR can be challenging to the point of break-up.
I think it is the same with our relationship with God. Whether you’re yearning for the Second Coming or fighting to rekindle your first love with Him, each has their own pain.
But we can take comfort that before Jesus ascended to Heaven, He gave us the Holy Spirit to help us through this waiting period.
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you.” (John 16:7)
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27)
Our relationship with God was never meant to be easy. In a devotion by Pocketfuel, it says, “Learning to stay awake and aware and alive to Him moment by moment, day by day will be the greatest challenge you will face. To keep that ‘sheer wonder’ alive. To not let the name of God just be a name, but to allow it to carry the whole world and eternity within and from it.”
God knew it would be tough – Jesus warned His disciples that following Him will come at a cost – and that’s why He gave us the Holy Spirit to guide, counsel and help us every step of the way (John 14:26).
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16)
Don’t give up just because it is demanding, because it is worth it. God is worth it all. And He has shown us time and time again that He wants this relationship – we were always worth it all to Him – so let’s fight hard to make us work, no matter what it takes.