I have been floundering around trying to grasp what a relationship with God looks like, if it is not based on religion. And I realized today that there is not just one picture. That’s because it is a personal relationship.
Some of us had bad fathers. Some of us had good fathers. Some fathers were extroverts; some were introverts. Some were emotional, intellectual, quiet, noisy, aloof and touchy-feely. Some dads took the whole neighborhood top play ball. Some worked on the yard. Some read the paper. It is true: we understand our Father based on the character and relationship we had with our fathers. And because our fathers were all different, we have different expectations, issues and hot buttons – which includes things that make us angry, sad, happy encouraged and discouraged. We have different preferences, patterns and codes – personal ways we learn and understand best.
Some of us will work better if we have set times, places, durations and practices. Some of us can be more flexible. God did make people to have habits. So, no matter how spontaneous a person is, there will still be some routines. Spiritual disciplines are practices that were identified, defined and refined over years as ways for people to connect with our Father. But they can be adapted to fit our time and lace.
However, the primary arena for our relationship with our Father is the heart, the mind and the attitude. We speak to him with them. We listen to him with them. We expect him to respond there. We expect him to act. We expect to receive and experience his love. We expect our concepts of “father” to be corrected and altered, so our ways of responding to our Father will be perfected.
As I said before, because people change, relationships change. Therefore, the ways of communication, the common areas and the grounds for concern will change. So, if our choice of practice\discipline lead to understanding, transformation and intimacy, continue to practice them. But hold them loosely. Be prepared to adjust, to surrender old practices and be open to new ones. Hear his voice. Feel his presence. Know his heart, embrace it and follow it.