I think we all like the image of God begging for us to give Him our attention. We all like to think when we are busy with other things, He waits for us like a puppy at the door. We think He gives us so much attention that we are the only ones on His mind when we decide to drift away for a while.
I don't think this is true. I think, as much as God loves us, He is not going to put Himself on hold while we waste our time with trivial pursuits. This should not be such a foreign concept to us. Hell, some women won't even keep their attention on a guy if he takes too long to call! Why then do we need this constant reassurance?
I think we say this because we are all afraid to admit we have actually walked away from God, however temporarily. We are too afraid to do something wrong and own it. We'll run off and dabble with sin, but we always want to be able to glance over our shoulders at the door we closed and know God is on His tiptoes, desperately peering through the peephole, watching us. We like to think we are so important that we will worry God if we take off to make some mistakes.
We are NOT that important.
Don't get me wrong - we are definitely important to God. Think of the verse everyone always quotes about the sparrows. God loves us unfathomably, but He does not need us. He made us out of love, He guides us out of love, and He continues to bless us out of love. Apart from Jesus, there is no human born because his presence was necessary. Jesus' human life on Earth wasn't even necessary for God, only for us. God could have let us rot; He sent Jesus instead, again out of love. Most of us just refuse to acknowledge a certain truth:
If we want to walk away, God will let us.
He is not going to force us to stay close to Him. He is not going to force us to obey His commands or read His word. He is not going to commandeer our lives if we intentionally drive ourselves too far off course. He will always welcome us home and He will always forgive us, but there comes a point when He will let us live without Him. Why else does the word "if" exist in the Bible? There are people against God - some vehemently against Him. If God had done his puppy-dog wait at the door, those people likely wouldn't have such strong hatred for Him. They would feel as if He had been there all along, and some horrible tragedy of fate had kept them from seeing Him. If God lets them walk away, however, they have no one to blame but themselves, and someone to hate for letting them go.
I only bring this up because I have not been as strong in faith in the past couple months. I have been frustrated, angered, and rendered careless, and only because I allowed myself to be. I have wondered aloud to one of my best friends, "How many times do I get to run away before God stops wanting me back?" Many of the above thoughts resulted from that conversation. God will always be willing to forgive and to love, she told me, but He is also willing to let me walk away. The path is narrow, and not because God does not want us to come back - it is narrow because we refuse to knock. We want to be chased. There is the whole idea of God pursuing us in ardor, but I think even that has been too romanticized. God will pursue us, yes, when we are most in need of Him and most ignorant of Him. Once we know Him, though, we are responsible for bringing ourselves to His feet when we are most deserving of pain.
I understand right now that God has let me walk away. I am not sure if I am ready to come back. I do miss Him. I still have connections with him. I think about Him every day and pray to Him about at least the smaller things. I have conversations in my head about what He would think and what I should say. I haven't read much of His word in a while and I find it hard to give up some of the areas in which I have allowed my tense limbs to stretch - areas that may not be very beneficial to my faith. I know God has not abandoned me, though; He is letting me figure myself out, and He knows (more so than I) when I will be back. I do not think God is worried about me. Should I get myself into irrevocable trouble - which is always a danger in walking away - I think He would care. Of course He would! He is the God of unfathomable, unmatchable love! I believe it wrenches His heart unimaginably painfully when each one of us turns away, but I am also able to admit exactly how selfish of a human being I am. I know my actions hurt God and I still want to do them. I know my actions can break God's heart and I'm still not sure if I want to give them up yet. I am an impossibly selfish human being and that is why I sin!
I'm working on getting back to the way I believed a few months ago. By working, I mean I am thinking more and more about why it is right for me to return to God. The funny thing is, my faith was the strongest it has ever been in my life right before I turned away. Why would I leave when my faith is strongest? I don't know exactly. I got fed up, I suppose. I wanted to see what life was like without all the uptight pressure and tension that comes with dealing with a bunch of Christians all the time. I wanted to see what would happen to me if I encountered the world as it is. I wanted to see what faith I could bring from being hurt, from messing up. I have found God closest when I have been destroyed, and everything I was feeling recently led me to feel nothing. Ever sing "break my heart for what breaks yours"? Ever utter the prayer that God "break my heart" to let Himself in? I believe it is necessary. I don't think I have to be overwhelmed by a physical sensation of God in order to have strong faith in Him, but I do think participation of the heart is necessary, and right now I can't feel my heart at all. I'm not necessarily setting out to get my heart shattered, but I can't with certainty say that is not some part of my intention. I am wandering, and I think God understands. Approves? Well. There are some things I know God definitely does not approve of, and I think we're all kidding ourselves if we pretend He doesn't care. I do have enough faith in my God, though, to know He understands the fickle wanderings of our hearts. He knows me. He knows what I want, even though I don't. He knows what I will find. Most importantly, He knows exactly what will kick my butt home.
And He will still be willing to answer the door.