There is a difference between the status and state of a relationship. Status refers to a definition of the relationship. Johnny is Bill and Rachel’s son. He will always be their son regardless of the closeness in their relationship. Closeness refers to the state of the relationship. Or temperature. A relationship may be warm or cold, close or distant, harmonious or conflicted. A cold or distant state does not alter the status of child to a parent.
The status is permanent. The state varies.
Now think about this in our relationship with God. If we have trusted Christ as our savior, God adopts us into His family. We become His sons or daughters. This status remains permanent and sealed. However, the state of our relationship with God will fluctuate. Sometimes, we are close. Sometimes we run away. Sometimes we ignore God. Sometimes we are mad at Him.
So how can our relationship with God move from cold to warm or from distant to close? God, on His part, will pursue us. CS Lewis called God “the hound of heaven” who did not relent in His loving pursuit of Lewis’ soul. God is always ready to reconcile. God loves forgiving us and helping us when we’ve fallen.
Scripture also talks about our need to seek Him. Psalm 24:6 is one example. “Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.” So that means we have a responsibility to put in the effort. We can’t just sit back and expect God to always repair our relationship when we want nothing to do with Him. God will respect our choice to turn from Him or try to go our own way. Occasionally He will intervene to stop us from destroying ourselves. But He also waits for us to seek Him.
So how do we seek God? We must first repent of our sin. Any relationship that suffers fracture requires confession of sin for healing – maybe from both parties. In our relationship with God however, it’s only us that needs to confess and repent. If we don’t, the hurt and fracture remain unresolved. Saying sorry and meaning it goes a huge way towards patching things up.
Second, we need to reject our idols. If the offender says they’re sorry but goes right back to doing the same hurtful action, sorry doesn’t mean much. Often, the cause of a fractured relationship lies in idol worship. We may worship the idol of self-rule or self-first. We don’t let anything get in the way of serving these idols. So when our spouse asks us to take out the garbage, we snap “no one can tell me what to do,” or we sulk because our “self-first” idol doesn’t get primary attention. The same is true with God. Anything that we treat as more important than Him is an idol. If we don’t reject our idols, our undivided attention becomes divided.
Third, we need to pray – or wrestle in prayer as Jacob did. I sometimes think my relationship with God should easily flow. Yet it takes time to know God, understand Him and learn to listen to them. This is part of the journey of seeking His face. Yet the journey brings reward. It’s like going on a hike to visit a hidden pristine lake. The hike has its rough spots and sometimes gets tiring. But when we arrive at the lake and take in the beauty, we proclaim the hike’s value. “It was worth it.” God is worth seeking – more valuable than anything else in the universe.
“Lord, we confess that we often want our relationship with You to be easy and just fall into our laps. Sometimes it is like that. When we’re in deep trouble You show up in unexpected ways. Yet you have also ordained value for us in the journey of seeking you. Help us to persevere in this journey until we see your beauty.”