I am at the front of the room speaking and I invite my wife to come and stand about six feet from me. “What does it mean,” I ask everyone, “to say I am in relationship to Ruth?”
Some of the answers are:
- “You love each other.”
- “You have shared history and experiences, that the rest of us don’t know about.”
- “You are intimate with each other.”
But then I ask her to sit down and invite Mike to come up to the front. Mike and I are not close, I had to ask his permission before this point because we only know each other superficially. I position him in the same spot.
“So again,” I ask, “Where am I in relationship to Mike?”
After a bit of laughter, some dare to come up with something:
- “You are standing to his right and he is on your left.”
“Let’s go with that,” I respond, “What does that entail?”
- “He can see you and hear you and knows what you’re doing.”
I start to deliberately creep back from him. “What about now?”
- “The distance between you can change.”
The first set of answers all have to do with what we normally think of with the word relationship.
The second set of answers could easily involve other words or phrases: Where I am with respect to Mike; Where I am according to Mike.
When we think about our relationship with God, we might want to consider it in terms of love, intimacy and shared history. “And he walks with me and he talks with me, and he tells me I am His own…”
Today I’m proposing we look for ways to expand that and consider the possibilities that:
- We need to be aware of God’s position in our lives; that he does stand next to us, and our posture should be that of standing next to him. One counselor I know would say we need to visualize this. The example of me standing next to Ruth or Mike can provide the imagery we need to do this.
- He sees us; he is watching us (“the eyes of the Lord run to and fro”) and this is also true for everyone on earth; whether they acknowledge him as Lord or not, he sees them. But this works both ways; I think we could also include in this an awareness of seeing Him in the everyday routine.
- We ought to keep close to him; not let ourselves drift away from the awareness of His presence, either on a momentary basis or over a period of time. (For example, I could continue speaking and forget that Mike is still standing there until he asks if he can sit down now!)
In other words, asking the question “Where I am in relationship to God?” is only partly about the nature or quality of the relationship itself, but also about where God is in my life, and where I stand with respect to Him. The focus shifts from the tie that bind us to how I act and live my life according to Him.
The issue is one of proximity or closeness.
God is omnipresent but that sterile piece theological information means, by definition, that He is also present.