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Have you ever had a good relationship evaporate?

I had a good friend in high school. We lost touch gradually.

I studied to become a lawyer; he trained as a police officer. We ended up living in different cities.

Years later, we reconnected. We were friendly toward each other, but something was gone. We had been disconnected too long.

We could have revived and nurtured the old relationship, but we didn’t. 

How’s your relationship with God?

For many of us, the experience of God’s companionship has faded.

Some of us don’t know God at all.

It’s not that we don’t want to be closer to God; it’s just that there’s a ‘disconnect’ between our desire for God and our experience of God.  

Five causes of disconnection

Here are five reasons relationships deteriorate. 

1.        Are you disconnected because you are looking for the wrong thing?

For many, the word ‘God’ is made of Silly Putty. It is twisted to mean anything they want – or nothing at all. I’ve written about this before. For example, see “My Favorite Idol.”

‘God’ has revealed himself as Jesus Christ, and this name “gathers all the diffused vagueness into a tight, clear, light-filled focus …” [1]     

2.         Possibly, one of you is not ‘present’ or does not listen to the other.

For instance, when the other person is speaking, you’re not ‘there.’ Instead, your mind is thinking about what you want to say. It’s a classic situation of one person wanting an audience, not a friend.   

3.         Maybe you have wrong or no expectations of the other person.

In a healthy relationship, there are wholesome expectations of who the other person is and how they relate to you. For example, you expect to be able to trust the other party.

If we don’t have expectations, aren’t we saying, “There is nothing of value in the relationship?”  

4.         In some cases, one party is unresponsive.

Perhaps you leave messages, and there’s never a reply. You are always the one making an effort. It’s never reciprocated. In typical situations, this indicates there is no real friendship.   

5.         Many relationships weaken and crumble because the parties do not spend enough time together. This could be due to distance, busyness, or different priorities.

Whatever the reason, if people don’t spend time with each other, they become detached physically and emotionally.   

Personal Inventory

I encourage you to take time in a quiet place to reflect on the quality of your relationship with God.

As you ask yourself the following questions, write or draw pictures of your candid responses.

  • On a scale of 0-10, how do you rate your relationship with God? What are your reasons for this rating?
  • Do you have an emptiness or a longing for God? Describe it in words or by a picture.
  • Reflect on each of the five causes for the disintegration of a relationship (see above). For example:
  • How do you listen to God? What are some of the recent things you have heard from Him?
  • Make a list of your expectations of God. How would God meet these expectations?
  • How does God respond to you? How do you respond to Him?
  • How do you spend time together with God? Describe an experience with God that was memorable to you.  

In the following posts, I’ll introduce five ways to strengthen the connection between your desire for God and your experience of God.   

Click here for the audio version.

FORWARD TO the next post in this series.

[1] Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2005), 31.

Photo Credit: Krasimira Nevenova via Compfight cc

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