We are a people of the senses.  Am I right, or am I right?  We need to touch, taste, see, hear, and FEEL. And not just feel, but feel good. We are a people of fight or flight. Some of us flee from bad feelings, and some of us stay and fight. We think that a bad feeling is a sign of betrayal, but cant it sometimes just be a sign of reality? Do we have the courage to look into that bad feeling, or do we need to turn ourselves away and be soothed?

They say that a guilty mind is accusatory. The defense begins. It is a natural tendency to get defensive, but I think to behave defensively is just the sign of an under-developed individual. It is the inability to see the other side, to respect someone else. It is the lack of self-control, which is essentially immaturity. I think of my small daughter, only seven months old. Her reaction is to cry. When she is hungry, when she is uncomfortable, when she is frustrated, when she is angry, when she is scared, when she is in pain… she will always cry. Only as she grows older, only as she develops and matures as a human being, will she begin to understand that she does not need to cry. She will see that effective communication will take care of her. We don’t let children assume that they have reached maturity, and no longer need to develop. So why do we let ourselves?

I mention a guilty mind because of the times when I have been mad at God, looking back I can see so clearly that I was the guilty party.  And I realized: God cannot be our friend if we are not His friend.

I mean, think about it.

If someone does not reach out to me, if they don’t take the time to call me, or talk to me, or stay in touch with me, I don’t consider them a friend. They can tell people all they want that they are my friend, but that wouldn’t really be the truth. Friends are there for each other.  It’s safe to say that no one should be surprised if I don’t send a birthday gift to someone I haven’t talked to in years, and vice versa.  I remember the birthdays of my closest friends. But they are…close. Giving them a gift is kind of like giving it to myself.

I think I always come back to the same few concepts. We are unhappy and defensive because we are never satisfied. Only when we choose to be satisfied can we really be at peace. We don’t want to betray ourselves by admitting that maybe those bad feelings are our own problem, and not somebody else’s fault.

We cannot be a friend to someone without spending time with them. Without getting to know them. Without feeling on their behalf.

The thing is, people just don’t ‘like’ God. They don’t have a ‘use’ for Him because supposedly He hasn’t proven Himself to be useful.

How is it that we can get a new iPhone and immediately open it and begin to learn it? We don’t take the phone back to the store and say we don’t like it, we don’t want it anymore because it doesn’t work, only to find out that we never took the time to even turn the thing on. We do that with our iPhones because we know that they will work if we invest the time. If we do our part. Would more people be as enthusiastic about God if they knew that He would ‘work’? Same as an iPhone manual says that you WILL get phone calls if you turn the phone on, the Bible tells us that God will be there for those who ask Him to be. Hebrews 4:12 says that the Word of God is “living and active”, so we know that it is as good today as it was back when it was written.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I you.”

We cannot abide in someone without them abiding in us. Someone cannot abide in us without us abiding in them. That is simply not how a relationship works. We can tell ourselves falsehoods all day long. We can set up the defense and stand behind it until we rot away.

And when the times come that I am praying, every day, and He still seems so far away, I can look deep into my heart and evaluate the nature of my prayers. If my prayers be true and pure, and not manipulations of our relationship, I can sit back and wait. I can hold on with both hands and know that the Lord is my friend because He said that He was, and that the down will become an up again because that’s just how this roller coaster of life works.  The real question is: am I His friend? Will I be faithful?

The story of Abraham on the verge of sacrificing his son always disturbed me. What a horrifying ordeal that must have been. The common assumption is that God wanted Abraham to prove himself. Even in Christian media we see it being communicated that God demands a test of His faithful servant. Can I just say, with all my heart, that simply isn’t true. In fact, God was communicating His deep love even in those moments. He walked His friend through the greatest trial a person could face, so that Abraham would know that he had more faith than he could have dreamed. Abraham had no idea how much faith he had in God until he took his son up onto that mountain and nearly sacrificed him. After that, Abraham was invincible. He knew that he would be strong through it all. He needed that strength, that credibility, to become the father of the world. Every last human being on this planet goes back to Abraham, just like God promised. In fact, if you want to get really serious, God did Abraham a favor. We talk about Abraham thousands of years after he died. We respect his passion and commitment. We revere and exemplify his character.

What an honor. How exciting. To know that God Himself wants to show us the strength of our spirits. He wants us to see the stuff that we are made of. When we get defensive, when we ‘give up’ on God, we are really only giving up on ourselves. Thinking about that actually makes me hurt in a physical way. And I think that is why the ugliness sets into people. Because they have given up on themselves, and they don’t even know it. They have no idea the strength that they could possess, because they do not use it. They have allowed their spirits to atrophy, and then they rage when they cannot even move aside the smallest burdens that come their way.

Relationships ebb and flow because they consist of two human beings. I know that human beings are unreliable, and that they are independent. We each have our own lives, and our own trials, and our own schedules. This means that sometimes we are in better communication than others. But I have found that during the times when I have stood by my friend, even when they knew that they weren’t being the greatest friend in return, we became stronger than ever. We have built that trust. They do the same for me, and those are the kind of people that I can call in the middle of the night when I need someone.

The best part about God is that He is perfect. He doesn’t ebb and flow. Numbers 23 reminds us that God is not human, so He does not struggle with keeping promises. In fact, God can bestow every good and perfect gift because He does not shift like the shadows (James 1:17).

So I know that when I am feeling like I am not close to the Lord, or that He isn’t being close to me, it is something that I need to work on. I need to just do my part. I need to hang in there. I need to use the strength that I know has been given to me (Phil. 4:13).  I need to be a friend to God.  I need to abide in Him, as Abraham did, and everything else will fall in line, to the end of my days and even beyond.