How do we love God who seems so distant at times? He doesn’t relate to us in ways we desire, so how are we to love Him in the way He desires?
On the way home from church one day, my three children (Colson 7, Cooper 6 and Esther 4) were discussing who they loved the most. Some days they love mommy the most, depending on what she feeds them or allows them to watch on TV. On other days, they love daddy the most, depending upon if I tickle them or bring them home a surprise. Well on this particular Sunday morning Esther announced that she loved daddy the most. Colson, who has learned from experience, quickly informed her that was rude to say and that it could hurt mommy’s feelings. And Cooper added that she is supposed to love God most anyway. Esther thought about this for a moment and rebutted, “But God doesn’t cuddle with me!”
Laura and I laughed but over the next several days as I thought about that statement the more it really sunk in. What my four year old princess had voiced is actually what I have felt all my life, but wouldn’t ever have had the nerve to say.
Sure we are supposed to love God above all, but as Jake expressed in his comment on my last blog…“how do you really get to know a person you can’t see or verbally hear?” Jake seems to be making the same observation as Esther was making. How can I know and love someone that doesn’t even cuddle with me? How do I relate to someone who doesn’t relate to me in the ways I need Him to relate? My daughter relates through spoken words, facial expressions, tickles and cuddles, none of which God employees. How is she even supposed to know Him, much less love Him?
As discussed in a previous post God chooses to relate to us through faith, which is what makes our relationship with Him so very unique. We often believe that it would be better for us to relate to God if, like the disciples, we were able to see, touch and speak to him in a tangible way. But, if you recall Jesus told his disciples that it would be better for them once He went away and sent the Holy Spirit. According to Jesus the relationship is actually better for the disciples once His body had ascended into heaven. Thus, we shouldn’t be enving the disciples because they were able to see Christ, but in fact we should have it even better because of the indwelling of the Spirit. So, what is the problem? Why do we so often not feel as if it is better? Why do we still find it so difficult to know and love God as we should?
I don’t know that I can answer that question for you, because honestly its still something I continue to grapple with in my own walk. I can only express what I believe God has been teaching me.
I’ve learned that God reveals Himself in more ways than most of us recognize. As the creator of the earth and all its inhabitants his divine nature and eternal attributes are revealed all around us all the time. Most of us recognize that God reveals Himself through the Bible, but few of us seem to understand that God is revealed through everything. Yes, I said EVERYTHING. Every created thing tells us something about its creator. Moreover, every circumstance has the ability to tell us something about the One who is sovereign over that circumstance. The problem is that we all too often take creation for granted and ignore most circumstances as being ‘chance happenings.’ We haven’t learned to view our world and our own lives through eyes of faith.
In the story I told about my three children debating about who they love the most, I left out the last part. After Esther said that God didn’t cuddle with her, Colson replied by asking, “Who do you think made Daddy?” (We all know where Colson gets his deep theological understanding of such matters.)
What I pray Esther learns as she matures in her faith is that the love she has for me is actually an expression of love for the One who created me, just as my love for her is also an expression of a deeper spiritual love I have for the One who gave her to me. When Christ taught us that to give a drink to someone who is thirsty or food to someone who is hungry it is as if you are doing it to Christ himself I don’t believe He was just attempting to motivate people to be social activists in order to meet physical needs. I think He was expressing something much deeper. When we love created beings we are loving the one who created them. When we really get to know His creation we get a glimpse of the creator.
So, indeed God can cuddle. As a daddy, my hugs are not independant of the One who created my body and my ability to love. When I cuddle I do so as a reflection of Him, not just me. To know good is to know God and though evil at times seems to prevail there is still much good to be known in this world if we are looking for it.