I had a talk with someone this afternoon. We talked very briefly about a couple of things, and I had some profound thoughts. I didn't feel that the time was right to share them with her, but I want to write them down so that I can share them with her when the time is right--or with anyone else who needs to see them.
She said some things that were giving me the idea that she feels she cannot ever be close to God. "I'm not a good person. I lie and cheat and talk bad." Well, I don't know anyone who has never broken some part of "the law," and if a person has broken one commandment it is as if she broke them all. We can never get close to God by being "good enough," although there are a lot of people who act as if their goodness should earn them some kind of prize.
Then later she said that she doesn't pray and she doesn't ask other people to pray. She said it with such conviction! And then she said something about believing that a good thought is like a prayer. I hear this a lot, and every time I hear it something is jolted inside me. I never knew what it was or why I reacted so strongly until today.
I asked myself what I think the difference between prayer and a good thought is and why it matters. The difference is that prayer is communication with God. And it matters because God is so much more than an idea or force that can be explained away by science. If the purpose of my life was just to escape the firy pit of hell, I could be content wit whatever little work would accomplish that purpose. But living that way, I just go through life wondering if I will ever really achieve the goal.
So what is the purpose of my life? And is it achievable? I was created for communion with God! I was created to make Him happy! Not by just being good. By relating personally to Him! How do I know this? I was created in His likeness, and this is the very thing I want from other people in my life. I want to pour out myself to them, and I want them to pour out in return. I want us to be nourished by the exchange of fellowship. How do we do that? By listening and communicating to each other. By touching each other. By acting to bring about some kind of change in each other's life. God is a living, active, intelligent, emotional being. He is knowable and approachable, and He has things in common with me!
But at the same time He is also unknowable. There are things about God that I will never understand until I see Him face to face in all His glory--and that is the only time I will have the purity of heart that is necessary to completely accomplish my other purpose. And there is another purpose: to worship God because He is my Creator and He is the only being who is capable of perfection. I don't understand that. I am not capable of understanding it. I am not capable of understanding how He can forget my sins and remove them completely from me when I remember them and drag them around like scarlet letters. But that is the very mystery that enables me to worship Him. He is so much more than any person could ever be! We are just little reflections of Him--and flawed ones at that! If I love someone and forgive actions that hurt me, how much more does God love and forgive me! If someone loves me so deeply that I don't understand it, how much deeper is God's love for me! And if that is the case, why should I not worship, and how can I even think of reducing prayer to a mere thought? In doing that I reduce God to an uncaring, unreachable force--if I assume He exists at all! Oh, God, thank You for being reachable and knowable and for caring about me more than you care about the birds of the air or the grasses in the fields! Thank You for not casting me aside because of my flaws! Thank You for making all things new, for giving me life through Jesus Christ! Teach me to live according to Your purpose. Show me how to give you joy.