Oswald Chambers said this wise thing. I posted it on my Instagram feed a couple days ago and it is still churning in my head.
I have kids. I see this concept playing out in real time. My kids' birthdays are next month and they want stuff. Lots of stuff. But on an average day, what they don't really want is to share their hearts with me. They don't want to talk (or listen) about their friendships, their worries, their needs. They don't often think to invite me into their worlds. Oh, maybe when I prod and question, I'll get some information out of them. But it's not given because they are seeking a deeper relationship with me.
Yesterday, when I asked my daughter why she didn't want her dad to chaperone her youth group event like he did last year, she said, "Sometimes I just don't want my parents with me." In contrast, she is very quick to hand us a lengthy birthday gift list.
My kids want what I can give more than they want to be in an intimate, growing relationship with me. But no one is surprised by that, right? They are little children; they don't know what's best for them. They still think birthday stuff will make them happy. They take for grated the amazing people they have in their home loving and taking care of them with incredible generosity.
But this Chambers quote, well, I am not much better off. Let's be honest:
Do I want His blessings more than I desire to know God Himself?
Do I pray for peace or rescue or something He can provide for me more than I pray for understanding of His will and who He is?
Do I want comfort more than I want my character and endurance and faith to grow?
Do I act like I sometimes just don't want my Father with me, but then hand Him a lengthy list of requests?
Yes. Sometimes, absolutely yes.
It gets in the way, this wanting what He gives. But we are used to "getting" from Him because He is incredibly generous. He gives and gives and gives. In fact, He lavishes me with blessings and I don't even mean material ones, though being a suburban resident of America, we have it pretty good.
Beyond that, however, God never stops giving us His spirit, His guidance, His favor, His forgiveness. The list is endless, and so I get used to getting.
And I forget how a relationship works, even though I know better.
A healthy, growing, deepening one is focused on the people themselves, not the benefits. It is two-way. One person doesn't keep taking and taking, even if she is grateful, unless she is an immature child.
It's hard for me to walk out my relationship with God, when, frankly, I can't see Him. When I can't meet Him at Starbucks, or do many of the things I do normally when I work to build relationships in my life. Instead, it takes an amount of discipline to protect time together to talk and work through issues. It is much harder to stop my head from spinning long enough to listen to what He has to say to me. I sometimes forget Him, neglect our relationship and start getting in the habit of wanting what He gives more than I want Him.
But this quote recalibrated me. I truly do want more of Him, not just more FROM him.
I have so much to learn about the Lord. I mean, I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of knowing Him. And yet, I forget to press in, to walk with Him and listen to Him without simply wanting what He gives.
What are the basic ways we invest in our most important relationships? Do those things translate into our relationship with God, or do we treat Him differently? Sometimes going back to the basics is a good place to start.
Protecting time together. Being a good listener. Gratefully serving. Those are the things we would do for a best friend. What about with God? And what about learning from our kids? How would we like them to treat us? What would make us feel loved and enjoyed as people, rather than as Santa Clauses?
I'm scrunching up my long list of requests and choosing to invest in my real relationship with my best friend.
He'll meet me, no matter when and where, with a hug and a smile and all kinds of compliments I don't deserve.
And the only thing I have to bring is myself.