“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” – C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
One of my roommates once asked me what my favorite characteristic of God is. I told her, that if she forced me to choose one, it would be ‘friendship.’
We have a peek into what friendship with God may have looked like in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:8). It would seem that, before the fall, God would go on walks with Adam and Eve and talk about – pure speculation here –the happenings of the day, why God made them, what their purpose in life is, and why mangoes are so tasty. Can you imagine being able to talk to God as you would with your closest friend?
How do you talk to your closest friends? I like to think my best friends know everything, but the reality is that it is impossible to tell one person everything about myself. It would take a lifetime to even come close to completely knowing one person. Each person is a universe of experiences, with mountain peaks and deep valleys unique to them alone. God is the only one who is intimately aware of all the pieces that make up the universe of your life.
Our experience with loneliness is also unique. So, I can’t tell you my experience with loneliness and how God has met me in it, and expect you to be able to relate on every level. Comparison in this way can be dangerous in either fueling pride or bitterness. God alone is able to meet us in the complexity of who we are because He made us and, knowing all of us, He loves us completely. I say all of this knowing that many of you are dealing with real loneliness right now. And if you aren’t experiencing loneliness now, I know that you have experienced it in the past.
Is it possible, that the root of loneliness is a longing for the intimacy that Adam and Eve had with God, in the Garden of Eden? What was lost to Adam and Eve when they walked out of the Garden of Eden was not just paradise, the loss was intimate friendship with God.
BUT, fast forward to the moment that Jesus takes all of our sin upon Himself and flings wide the heavenly gate. The Gospel means ‘good news’ and the good news, is that through Jesus Christ, we are invited back into friendship with God. Now, the question is, how do we walk in the cool of the garden with God in our day-to-day lives?
“…and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. (James 2:23, ESV) Abraham was called a friend of God because he believed, and his belief was counted to him as righteousness. Friendship is an intimate attachment to another, with a vulnerability to be able to give and receive. Abraham was vulnerable with God and, I think, belief is what opened the door to the intimacy and vulnerability he experienced with God.
To believe God is to know God. Think about your most intimate friendship. How long did it take to build the level of intimacy you experience with that person? How easily we get frustrated with God, because He does not feel near. I shout, ‘God, why have you abandoned me?’ But the truth is so contrary to that angst. The heaven shaking truth is that God is constantly pursuing us in friendship.
There are some cartoons circulating the Internet called, Coffee with Jesus. These cartoons are a special, often crude, brew of religious satire. I couldn’t help but chuckle when a good friend shared one with me, but a few of them hit sadly close to home. Too easily we compartmentalize our relationship with God to, as Phil Schaefer explained it in a recent sermon, separating our lives into the sacred and secular. When we do this, we miss out on a rich, and ongoing friendship with God.
There is so much to say on the subject of friendship with God. I feel like I am barely putting my feet into the water of relationship with the creator of it.
Take heart, if you are pursing friendship with God but don’t feel His presence. This desert season is not God’s abandonment of you. God is doing a sweet work in you. May you be refreshed in the oasis of God’s unchanging love for you, even in the midst emotional numbness.
Take heart, if you feel like you have not pursued intimate friendship with God, He is pursing friendship with you. God made you for friendship. That longing in you for intimacy was hardwired into your DNA by a loving God. God made us to be creatures of community and it is good to have all kinds of friendships with all kinds of special people that are in your life.
But don’t miss the most important friendship of your eternity. If you believe in God, get to know Him more every day. Let belief open the door to being vulnerable with one who knows all of you and loves all of you. But believing in someone so much that we are vulnerable, doesn’t that open us up to being hurt? “Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.” C.S. Lewis said, and I think he is right. But to love God, who is so good and so for our good; take heart, for there is no sweeter brokenness.
Get to know God. Study Him in the Bible. Enjoy God in creation by going rock climbing or hiking with Him. Create music that is worship to God. Write poetry with God, or paint with Him, or relax in the hammock and simply listen to Him listening to you. Or vent your brains out to God. God cares for you. He is pursuing you and He is not afraid of your vulnerability. No one was more vulnerable than Him when He, who knew no sin, put on the vulnerable skin of man to be with us.
A little about me? I graduated from the Mizzou nursing program in 2010 and work full time as a pediatric nurse. I have lived in Ecuador and England but am so thankful God landed me in Columbia and Christian Fellowship church. My passions, simply put, are God, His Word, and His people. I also blog inconsistently on my life with Jesus at http://cmdouce.blogspot.com/.