My son, Tyler, called me last week. It wasn’t out of the ordinary. We speak fairly often. Sometimes, it’s a quick text. Sometimes, I text him and he responds. Sometimes, he texts me and I respond. Sometimes, it’s about something funny one of us saw or experienced and, sometimes, it’s a quick question to be answered. I will check in with him when he is heavy on my heart and I want to touch base and, sometimes, he has a problem about which he needs advice and guidance. Last week stuck out because it was none of these things. Tyler called because he had a few minutes between classes and he realized he hadn’t heard my voice in a while. I guess we had been texting more than speaking recently.
Our conversation started with each of us relating what we had been up to. Once those opening statements were done, the conversation rambled a bit. I was in the middle of making soup and some of my comments were directed towards that project rather than to Tyler. He did the same, talking through the process of finding his earbuds in his backpack. I asked how things were going, then came the big question. I don’t even think he realized it was lurking when he called. He laid out a pretty significant issue and together we talked about pros and cons – things maybe his 20-year-old self might not have considered, but my almost 50-year-old self did. This became the bulk of our conversation. We spoke for about 45 minutes. A conversation that started with no real point ended, not with a hard answer, but with more clarity and direction for Tyler.
Yesterday, this conversation entered my memory during my prayer time and, I realized, that conversation with Tyler is often how we speak with God. We throw up text prayers. “Oh! I need this right now, God!” Texts are impersonal. You can’t hear voice inflection – happiness, sadness, anger, joy, laughter – in a text. With a text, you can choose to not respond or ignore. Texting can be one-sided. I realized this is often how I communicate with God, in short bursts – without stopping to build a relationship. When we find ourselves at a point where we realize we haven’t heard God’s voice, that is when we should take the time to seek Him out.
Another thing that stuck out (or that God was pointing out) is how Tyler and I worked our way around to the big stuff. So often, I think I must pray a certain way, but I don’t think God cares how we talk to Him. He cares that we talk to Him. We could start out telling God what happened that day. We could ramble from subject to subject with no seeming purpose. We could say nothing and just sit in His Presence. If we work through all of that, we will come to a place where the really big issues come out and we lay it all out before Him. We can talk it through with Him – tell Him our point of view and listen for His. We may not get the kind of specific answer we crave, but we will definitely leave the conversation with more clarity and direction.
It’s not rocket science. It’s relationship. It is built through conversation and communication. Somehow, we lose sight of that when it comes to God. It’s hard to think of Him in the same light as a friend or spouse or parent. He is God–the Creator of the Universe–and He wants to have this conversation with me? Yes! He does! It’s so remarkable! He doesn’t want to be apart from us. He wants to be a part of us. He wants to be in relationship with us just as we are in relationship with family and friends – that means regular communication. We can’t build a strong relationship with people by text alone and we can’t build a strong relationship with God if all we do is tell Him what we want instead of having that conversation and taking time to both speak and listen to Him.
So…Hi, God. Today I had coffee with a friend and ran some errands. How was your day?