Lately, to my delight, lots of things I think I “get” (at least on a basic level) are being revealed to me in new ways. These revelations are usually little things, but they are changing the face of my faith. I think that the way I understand my relationship with God is one of those things that will continue to change and change me.
My religious tendencies (in case you hadn’t guessed ;)) are somewhat expansive, inclusive and liberal. I’m doing my best to hone my beliefs, to discern what is really important and then be willing to get specific about those things. It’s been challenging. Now, before I’ve made much progress on that front, I find myself challenged in the other direction by a book my mother recommended called If God is Love by Philip Gulley and James Mulholland.
I’ve only just started it, so this is not a critique or review, but it has already got me thinking.The authors are both Quaker pastors who have come to believe in “universal salvation.” They talk a lot about grace in a way that would be familiar to most Christians but they take it one step further, arguing that every person will ultimately be with God. They provide some scriptural support, but I haven’t read enough to know what I think just yet.
The authors write about their respective relationships with God in a way that stands out to me. I get this feeling that they are confident in their familiarity with God. That they feel they really know Him. I had to wonder why that would stand out to me. After all, I too recognize my personal connection to God. To say that that connection is the most important thing in my life seems lacking. That connection IS the point. I wouldn’t even have life without it. I seek, praise, defy and try to please God just as so many people do.
So what’s bothering me? It boils down to the idea of having a “relationship” with God. I mean, what’s the root word of relationship? Relate. Before we can have a relationship with someone, we have to have a way to relate to them. Relating to other people is (technically, anyway) pretty easy. You have a body, I have a body. I can relate to you. You communicate verbally and so do I, and so on. The greater my ability to relate to you, the stronger our relationship. A relationship with God, though, has to be defined differently. He can see me, knows my thoughts, knows exactly how I’m like Him, but I don’t seem to have those advantages. It hardly seems fair! I’m always second-guessing what I think I know about Him, so that confidence I mentioned before is interesting and appealing to me.
Bottom line, I’ve become aware that I view my relationship with God as too one-sided. I confess I don’t “hear” God in a literal way and most of the time I can only guess at His specific involvement in my life. I don’t know if I will ever feel that I “know” Him in the same way I know my husband or my sister or my co-worker, but I hope to know God in a deeper way than that, anyway. I think it is possible that we limit our capacity for intimacy by applying human expectations to our dealings with the Divine. Or maybe I really could get to know God in that way. What do you think? Do you feel you know God as you know people?