Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Anonymous Asks (5)

“How do I stay close to God when there is nothing bad happening?”

A fire extinguisher is a great thing to have in your kitchen if you have accidentally ignited the grease on the stovetop. But when you don’t have a five foot pillar of flame shooting up to blacken the kitchen ceiling — which is 99.99% of the time — a fire extinguisher is a little awkward. It’s big enough that it kind of disrupts the décor, but important enough that you don’t want to stash it at the back of a cupboard where you can’t find it when you need it.

You may appreciate your fire extinguisher when it saves you a visit from the fire department, but you don’t have a relationship with your fire extinguisher.

Need I point out that God is not like a fire extinguisher? But a lot of people treat him that way.

The best way to stay consistently close to the Lord is to make talking to him and listening to him a daily habit, the same way you would with any real friend. When I was ten, or twelve, or fifteen, I didn’t make appointments to walk to school with a friend. I showed up at their door in the morning with my books under my arm and we crossed the field or walked down the road together. How I felt about my friend on any given morning didn’t really enter into it; being with them was just something I did habitually, whether I was in a great mood, feeling blasé, grumpy or totally stressed out. To have suddenly stopped doing it would have seemed weird, not to mention that my friend would have wondered what was up. But as a consequence of stopping at their doors week after week and month after month, I found I knew most of my friends pretty well. Regular conversation will do that.

There is no substitute for starting your day with prayer and Bible reading. When you pray, you speak to God. When you read and meditate, you allow him to speak back. Like any good relationship, really. When you invest your time, your feelings and your life in someone else, you feel closer to them. When you don’t, you don’t.

James says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” Jeremiah says, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Neither requires a crisis.

One more thing: if you really have nothing bad happening in your life for any sustained period, you are either not paying close attention or you are incredibly privileged. You are in the 1%.

Maybe start by giving thanks …

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