In Eugene Peterson’s version of the Bible, The Message, one of the Proverbs notes that God doesn’t care too much for pretense. Pretense is a sort of pretending–a deceptive way of being something you’re not. Yet, when our souls have tinkered out or our spiritual life wanes, we approach God with enough pretense to make us forget who we even are and who God is in the first place.
Pretense is born out of confusion at times. It happens when we start asking a series of “why?” questions: Why do I go to church and bother anymore? Why do I pray if all I get is silence in return? Why do I believe what I believe? Why do I even waste my time with prayer?
Although these questions can lead to a deeper exploration of faith when asked in the proper time and place, these questions often reflect a spiritual life that has sputtered out over time.
Let’s face it: As caregivers, our spiritual lives burn out just as much as we burn out after confronting insurmountable stress and pressure. Prayer, worship, and our relationship with God gets routine.
A relationship with God that falls into this pattern needs a kick-start. Communication, imagination, and passion can be the spice that enlivens our prayer life and worship.
One way to navigate burn-out is to consider Psalm 8, a creation psalm that gives us grand vistas of the universe and points out the unique attributes and worth that we as humans have before a loving and intimate, cosmic God.
Read Psalm 8 in full…It’s worth the time.
Notice in particular verse 4, which sits at the very heart–the epicenter–of the psalm. The Hebrew literally reads, “What is humanity that you remember them? Mortals, that you visit with them?”
Despite the fact that God has created a vast and powerful universe in which earth is just one grain of sand, God still chooses to visit with us in the cool, silent breeze and the starry night of revelation.
God visits with us in the red and orange canvas of dawn and in the sweet song of birds in flight.
Communion with God is interconnected with intimacy with God. Communion requires the use of other words related to it: community and communication.
When we communicate with God in faith, not worrying about what to say and how to say it, the pretense fades into pure fascination.
When we see ourselves as one who is in community with God, we quickly find that we are in community with our neighbors and others, even our care receivers. In community, our awareness of God takes center stage.
Getting back to basics in prayer and intimacy reminds me of when Jesus encouraged his disciples to come to him as a child. My children are such curious and eager learners: they discovers new things and play with all that they are given–from her toys old and new, to the food on their plates.
When we come to God as a child we remember that we are called to be earnest listeners and humble seekers, to “play” with the Spirit and sense the movements of the Spirit within our heart of hearts.
As “children,” when we become comfortable enough to sit in God’s lap and enjoy the warmth of God’s presence, we find that God’s heartbeat becomes our heartbeat, that God’s intimacy is ours to own and cherish.