i had a conversation with a new friend recently. because of a lifetime of struggles and demons, he has incredible difficulty interacting with people. he prefers to live alone…closed off from people. maybe to avoid being hurt. maybe to avoid hurting them.
he chooses to build walls to protect himself…and keep others at a distance. knowing what little of his story i know, i can’t say that i blame him.
at some point, our conversation turned to god. he’s finding it difficult, if not impossible, to connect with god anymore. his doubts and questions have turned to full-blown unbelief. it’s complicated. it’s dark. it’s incredibly painful. for him, it seems nearly hopeless.
here’s some truth… for all of us:
we cannot touch god. we cannot see god. we cannot smell god. we cannot taste god. and with apologies to all my subjective, mystical, touchy-feely friends…we cannot feel god.
that’s why we need people.
we need touch. we need hugs and handshakes and shoulder taps and fist bumps and head-locks and nose tweaks. we need to be able to stand arm in arm when we are serving. we need a hand on a knee or a shoulder to cry on when we are grieving. we need hands to help us up and forearm shivers to stop us in our tracks.
we need presence. we need to see we are not alone. there is strength in numbers. we need face-to-face connection. we need to see differences…and physically experience our uniqueness. we need to see and know that our backs are covered. we need looks of approval and sympathy and confidence and belief…so we can move forward. we need to see integrity and grace and faith.
we need experience. we need the sweet aroma of forgiveness and compassion. we need to be told we are loved and accepted. we need to taste what it means to belong and be part of something larger. we need the sensation of relationship and teamwork and loyalty and shared vision.
we find this in people. if we get close enough and we are willing to risk getting hurt. people are fallible and imperfect. people are self-centered and weak. people fall short.
…but people are the stuff that god chooses to express his nature and character through. that’s his plan. it always has been.
you can read the bible and come face to face with truth.
you can submit your will and receive the presence of god’s spirit in your life.
you can enter the inner sanctuary of personal communion with god.
you can go into your private prayer closet and speak personally with the creator.
you can sit alone on a mountain top and drink in the greatness of god’s power and purpose.
…but you cannot experience the fullness of relationship with the father and the son and the holy spirit without others close by your side.
without others, your growth will be stunted…your trust will be siphoned away…and your personal “experience” with the almighty will be suffocated.
get some friends and do this journey together.