Monday, January 4, 2010

A romance with -- God?

In the summer of 1988, when I was 27, I met a woman named Nancy, a divorcée 14 years my senior, through a 12-Step recovery program. After one meeting the group went out for more fellowship and the two of us ended up walking back to my apartment, about a half-hour trip from the restaurant (neither of us had a car at the time). After talking for a few more minutes, we exchanged phone numbers and embraced warmly.

Since I'm fairly affectionate, I bent down to give her a chaste good-night kiss -- and, at that, she attacked me. (Well, not really -- she started planting kisses all over me.) Realizing that this evening wasn't about to end, we went into my place and later to hers, another very long walk. To make a long story short, I didn't get home until 3 a.m. the next day.

Without realizing it, in Nancy I had found a woman who not only was completely smitten with me but, in the process, allowed me to experience the "feminine essence" in a way I never had before -- almost all of my previous relationships with women, even those I had "dated," had been platonic. She in fact was willing to sleep with me, but I told her from the outset that wasn't going to happen (and she respects me to this day for that stance). Anyway, over the next three or four months I grew to want to see her as much as she wanted to be with me and it mattered not at all that neither of us had any money, only that we were together.

So what's the point? Well, lately I've been mulling over the idea that I should have a similar relationship with God.

And that in one sense that offends my sensibilities. I grew up in a very strong church which gave me excellent theology. I can quote Scripture as well as anyone. I can tell you the moment, almost to the hour, when I said my version of the "Sinner's Prayer" just before graduating from high school. I have never been involved in immoral behavior, including drugs and sex. Not only wouldn't I dream of missing church, I have always been very active in whatever assembly I've belonged to. I've been known to play the role of "prophet," speaking truth even when unpopular. I even lead a prayer meeting at work.

And yet, if I'm honest, I know that, despite all that religious activity, at times something's missing. Recently, a friend who located me on Facebook last year sent me an e-mail saying, in essence, "Do you realize how much God loves you?"

Perhaps not. Because due to my history and despite my background and lifestyle, relational intimacy isn't something I've experienced much. In the book "What's So Amazing About Grace?", Philip Yancey mentioned that romantic love is the closest thing to grace that most people experience on a human level. And perhaps that's where the "romance," the mystery combined with the intoxication, applies.

Maybe that's the real reason God brought Nancy into my life for that short amount of time -- to experience that kind of desire combined with warmth. So how will it apply to my life in Christ? Check back with me later.

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