I was talking about friendships with our youth minister yesterday. He commented that when he moved to a new town in high school he tried to stay connected to his old friends through IM but after a few months he decided that he did not want to spend time on relationships that could not move forward. He was not able to move forward because they could only talk about memories and shared past experiences. In order to grow those friendships it required new shared experiences.
How does our relationship with God grow cold and stale? Could it be that praying the same prayers, turning to the same favorite texts, or even staying away from God completely could rob us of the shared experiences we need to progress in our relationship with God? I also wonder if we equate experience with God only with prayer and scripture reading as if our relationship with God cannot be more than that. In theory I don’t believe that the “perfect” on 1 Cor 13 is scripture, as some take it to be. But in practice that is often how I live it out, that I can no more experience God than through the pages of the Bible. I regret that. Over and over again God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit have promised their presence. I don’t think they were lying.
In scripture, God’s relationship with his prophets and people came through repeated shared experience. He doesn’t talk to Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah, or Elijah just once and then leave them on their own. He comes back again and again to reassure, comfort, commission, support, and whatever else it took to grow his relationship with his prophets and his people. The Israelites did not seek that solely through the Torah. They did not turn down the presence of the Lord and tell him to wait until they finished reading a passage of the pentateuch. No, when God was near everything else was put aside and the new experiences they shared helped their relationship with God progress. Is our relationship with God any different? It is not scripture that is sufficient to grow our relationship with God, it is the God behind the scripture, the God that the scriptures point us to who can do that.
To live is to experience. We often tell people they need to live for God by reading their Bibles and praying. Maybe there is more to it than that.