A friend and I recently realized that we have not been spending as much time together as we would like. We agreed it is high time to do something about it. But what to do?
We put our heads together and determined that we will deliberately build time for one another into our schedules. But we also determined that we need to maximize those times together. To ensure this we will go through an evaluation process to consider whether they were as meaningful as they could possibly have been. Did we listen attentively to one another? Did we avoid speaking about the minutia of life and discuss only things that are of the highest consequence? Did each of us spend the appropriate portion of the time speaking and the appropriate portion listening? Days later, can we remember all that the other person said? Did we wring every possible bit of value out of each moment?
I’m just making this up, of course. To do any of that would make a friendship burdensome instead of free. Such intense evaluation and introspection would rob the friendship of warmth and life and instead leave it bound by rules and regret. In fact, it would be a great way to utterly ruin a perfectly good friendship.
Yet there are so many Christians who relate to the Lord in just this way. The Christian faith offers the ability to have a genuine relationship with God himself, a relationship in which we speak and God listens and in which God speaks and we listen. We speak to God through praise and prayer and God speaks to us through Scripture and Spirit. It’s a wondrous and beautiful privilege we enjoy.
At least, it’s a wondrous and beautiful privilege we are meant to enjoy. But so often we fail to enjoy it because we bind it up in rules. Instead of just appreciating a relationship, we constantly assess it. Instead of appreciating the moments we spent together, we lament that we did not make more of them. Soon enough we find that we associate the relationship more with sorrow than pleasure, more with guilt than enjoyment. We undermine and even ruin a perfectly good friendship.
But freedom comes when we simply free ourselves to enjoy the relationship. Freedom comes when we speak freely, when we speak openly, when we speak about any and everything rather than only what is of the greatest consequence. Freedom comes when we stop being morbidly introspective about the relationship and simply enjoy it as a good and wonderful gift of grace.