Some of you who read this blog know I was raised in the Church, and have always struggled with how much… whatever I was “supposed” to do. Fill-in-the-blank for whatever: Bible-reading, “quiet time,” prayer, service.
I have not, like some Christians, ever felt compelled by my church to do more. I only see new perspectives that make me reevaluate what I might be doing, or not doing.
(If you’ve been hanging out a while you’re probably also aware that “reevaluation” is for me sort of a cross between a running-gag and a need in my mind).
Right now I’m thinking about “spending time with God,” something that (rightly) is portrayed as necessary for spiritual growth, and frequently seems to involve chunks of time alone.
I am not the only mother of pre-schoolers to confess this is not a regular practice.
At a new bible study group I visited yesterday, the study-book brought up the image of God waiting for us to join Him in a special meeting place, and of Him missing us when we don’t show up.
The point was to see God as someone who values us and wants to spend “quality time” together. The idea that the interaction is not just for our benefit. It is a thought-provoking image. And a guilt-inducing one.
I had a new image come to me today (for any, like me, who have seen a certain part of the Lord of the Rings audio commentary).
What if, instead of a meeting in the drawing room, tête-à-tête by the fire, our relationship with the Lord was represented by something more like Frodo and Sam– a quester and his “back-man.”
This image really struck me as I continued to think on it, especially as it put(s) God in the back-man position. This might seem blasphemous to some, but I hope not. The scriptures describe God the Father and the Holy Spirit as our comforter and helper in this journey we are on.
Using Frodo and Sam as the example (the movie does this well, so you’ll still get it if you haven’t read the book) you can see the relationship beginning with a sense of responsibility and valuing one another, growing into camaraderie and an outright love from shared trials and adventures. They are bound together.
While there are times of quiet reflection and conversation, most of the “relationship-building” happens as the pair soldier on together toward their goal.
And suddenly, if I imagine my relationship with God this way, I feel no guilt about “abandoning” Him or our time together if I don’t (can’t!) find a chunk of time to be alone.
I see that my “stopgap” measures of maintaining relationship with Him in this busy parenting season are more than a “temporary expedient.”
By praying throughout my day, memorizing scripture to dwell on, and choosing to maintain a healthy attitude in “trials,” I am involving my life in His, and His in mine. When I delight in his amazing and daily PROVISION (boy, that would make a forever post) I am worshiping Him in complete awe.
God has both set me on my “quest” and come along with me in order to help me. Because he loves me.
I hear his attitude reflected in several of Sam’s lines:
“[You] all alone and without me to help you? I couldn’t have borne it, it’d have been the death of me. Of course [you’re going.] And I’m coming with you. I’m coming too, or neither of us isn’t going.”
And I can feel the significance of grateful tears in that boat. And hear my own voice speaking Frodo’s response:
“It s no good trying to escape you. But I am glad…I cannot tell you how glad. Come along! It is plain we were meant to go together.”