Even the Prophet Isaiah felt it—the absence of God’s eternal Presence:
“Truly, you are a God who hides himself,
O God of Israel, the Savior.”
— Isaiah 45:15 (NRSV)
Many friendships suffer from a lack of nurture.
No matter the seasons of closeness, maintenance is always a clever byword for friendship, because of conflict, or the mind’s propensity to invent problems, or just because we lose touch and, therefore, apparent interest.
Good friendships last because we were prepared to mow down the barriers to separation and silence; that one or the other said, ‘enough is enough’, and re-railed what was destined for the relational abyss.
The exact same thing happens for our relationship with God.
Maintaining the Bond of Friendship Even in Distance
The test of separation and silence is one for each party, except when it’s our relationship with God when we, alone, our tested. Faithfulness is that test.
We are not tested just for the sake of it, but to prove, even to ourselves, the bond strength of the relationship—how much it means to us. It communicates just as much to the other party, whether they are a friend or God.
Maintaining intimacy at distance may seem impossible, but the need for the right feelings robs us the opportunity to still feel intimate—by thought and prayer at least.
Intimacy is the key. At distance it needs to occur in the mind; but we must nurture the mind in order for it to happen. And as we nurture good thoughts, and kindly prayers, God instils a fresh confidence, along with thoughts prompting action, despite the distance.
The Purpose in Friendship
Friends aren’t there to make us feel good—though that is often the blessing of friendship. They are there as God’s provision for someone to love. As we need to be loved, so do others.
We ought to treat our friendship with God the same way.
We are worthy of friendship—whether with a human friend or God—when we scale the mountain of desire for the need to be placated. There is profound truth to the old saying, “A friend in need is a friend indeed.”
Friendship is other-focused. The moment we shift the focus onto another, blessing is ours.
This is when we become the best of ourselves; when humility springs forth at the requirements of others—despite the origins of their desires—and not of ourselves.
God uses the model of friendship in our human relationships to show us what it means to love. Love may be a feeling, but that is not the nourishing part of life. Real spiritual nourishment comes when we love—as an action in response to a distant situation or a defined need of another.
Periods of separation and silence are a test of our commitment. Can we endure them? Will intimacy falter as a result? Or, will we use that distance to yearn and long for reconnection. Whether it’s a friend or God, the question remains:
Are we making the next move?
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.