Today’s devotion comes from Marion.
Read Luke 15:11-32
Awaking early one morning and becoming aware of God’s presence – not easy to articulate – I began thinking about some of the quite painful aspects we can sometimes experience in some of our close relationships.
At times, it seems that the only way to engage in those relationships, is from a “safe distance”.

The Spirit of God led me to explore more deeply, the suffering that accompanies that pain, encouraging me to recognize that this is akin to the pain that God, our Heavenly Father endures because of my sometimes holding Him at a safe distance.

• Do you hold God at a safe distance?

Deut 6 v 5 says:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 

• Do you love Him?
• Do you believe He is with you?
• If you believe He is with you, do you recognize that you sometimes, or even frequently ignore Him?
• Do you treat Him as though He is not really real?
• Do you view Him as a God who is remote?
• Do you reject Him?
• HOW do you show God your love for Him?

The Spirit of God turned my thoughts again towards how I make Him feel by my neglect of spending time quietly in His presence, focusing solely upon Him. 
It was revealing to consider that God feels pain, and that He, God, might suffer because of my careless attitude towards Him.

• Is the extent of my desire for Him only about wanting all my needs to be met? Rather than really desiring to engage with Him, as I would want to in my close earthly relationships.

Another viewpoint is in the pain of loss that can happen periodically in a marriage when the husband and/or wife unintentionally, and unconsciously drift away from the other through carelessness of the other’s needs and feelings. This can lead to a subtle, unspoken level of alienation from one another. As both experiences a level of loss/neglect, they unconsciously adopt a position of defense – a subliminal attempt to preserve them from the pain of loss – then they cool towards one another, this can at times lead to painful conflict.
Such episodes can be healed effectively, only when each are willing to own up to the other, their part of the problem and come before God individually and together in a spirit of repentance and surrender.

• Is this also the way of it in your relationship with God?
• Do you believe that God actually desires to have fellowship with you?
• Are you careless about what God wants in the relationship?
• Do you keep edging away from God instead of towards Him?
• Do you return to Him in a spirit of repentance acknowledging your carelessness? He is always ready to welcome you with wide open arms.

Check out the story commonly referred to as the ‘Prodigal Son’, which would be better, named the ‘Loving father’ – Luke 15 vv 11-32 especially verse 20.

These thoughts are intended to be helpful in making time with God meaningful – and you shouldn’t be afraid of the times when they are uncomfortable and challenging because that is sometimes needful. 

Will you give it a go? You may be pleasantly surprised by an increased confidence in His faithfulness, even if He doesn’t always seem to answer your prayers, or provide what you think you need; He will give you what He knows you need. And He is very Gracious.

Father… I do love you.  I do want to draw closer to you, and stop holding you back or edging away from you.  Give me the trust to look your way and know you won’t be frowning.  Forgive me… let me learn how to love you more in response to all the love you keep pouring out on me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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