Lov­ing God for Him­self—and En­joy­ing It!

Activated - - NEWS - By Jessie Richards Jessie Richards had a role in the pro­duc­tion of Ac­ti­vated from 2001 to 2012, and has writ­ten a num­ber of ar­ti­cles as an Ac­ti­vated staff writer. She has also writ­ten and edited ma­te­rial for other Chris­tian pub­li­ca­tions and web­sites.

A few years ago, I had a turn­ing point in my re­la­tion­ship with God. Un­til then, I had been fix­ated on the do­ing of things that would make Him happy or proud and on not do­ing the things that would dis­please Him. And, then, of course, there was the as­pect of Him do­ing things. There was the mat­ter of things I would ask Him to do, and a lot of me read­ing into things He did that I hadn’t asked Him to do—be­ing dis­cour­aged when it seemed He was do­ing things that weren’t in my in­ter­est, and get­ting hung up on try­ing to fig­ure out why He was do­ing them.

Then I had an epiphany that made me look at God and my in­ter­ac­tions with Him very dif­fer­ently. It came about as a re­sult of some­thing I read, about lov­ing God for Him­self, for who He is, and not for what He does for us. I’m sure I had heard that be­fore, but this time, it changed me.

I started think­ing about what that meant for me—lov­ing God for Him­self. I started think­ing more about be­ing than do­ing— about be­ing with God, en­joy­ing Him, be­ing the kind of per­son He would en­joy be­ing around. I thought about get­ting to know His per­son, and about our deep spir­i­tual con­nec­tion—spirit with spirit, mind with mind. Each hu­man soul is deep, com­plex, and not that easy to get to know or de­fine—how much more so the God of all things? How could I have dumbed Him down so much?

I re­al­ized that I had been look­ing at Him al­most as a car­i­ca­ture. Some­times I saw Him as a kind of “cos­mic ge­nie” who ran around “mag­i­cally” get­ting things for me and do­ing things for me (in the good times). Or do­ing things “to” me (in the bad times). In other cases, my thoughts to­ward Him were as if He were a boss or “over­lord” who al­ways wanted me to do some­thing for Him and take care of things for Him. A guy who had a list of ex­pec­ta­tions and was al­ways keep­ing score.

Af­ter my epiphany, I tried to think along the lines of, If God were a per­son, and I had a re­la­tion­ship with Him, what would we do to­gether? What would we talk about? What would I share with Him? What would I want Him to share with me, and what would I ask Him about?

The an­swer to that isn’t clear or sim­ple; but the core con­cept is that when we love some­one and want to spend time with them, we don’t usu­ally spend that time talk­ing about what we ac­com­plished to­day, or what we did wrong, or go­ing over our to-do list. There’s a time and place for that, but build­ing a lov­ing

re­la­tion­ship is more about deep thoughts, feel­ings, and the things we care about. It’s also not one-sided, with ei­ther side mak­ing all the re­quests or do­ing all the work.

So we walk to­gether, or go for a jog, and we talk. While I walk or run, ideally in na­ture, I turn my thoughts to­ward Him. I try not to do all the talk­ing. I try to lis­ten. I avoid ex­pect­ing any­thing in par­tic­u­lar as far as the di­rec­tion the con­ver­sa­tion will go. I know that there’s a time and place for ask­ing for things in prayer, but to break bad habits, for a while I stopped ask­ing for any­thing at all from Him dur­ing these times. I think thoughts of grat­i­tude and praise. I fo­cus on His at­tributes and char­ac­ter and na­ture—the things that He is, rather than the things that He does. I med­i­tate on how I can be more like Him and like all the good things that He is. The one thing I ask of Him dur­ing these con­ver­sa­tions is to help me do that.

I’ve also learned to think dif­fer­ently about the idea of God “watch­ing us.” I love peo­ple-watch­ing. When­ever I’m in a restau­rant or bar, an air­port or train sta­tion, it’s fas­ci­nat­ing to me to ob­serve what peo­ple do—from how they dress and how they walk or carry them­selves to what they’re read­ing to how they talk and in­ter­act with other peo­ple. I now think about the con­cept of “God watch­ing us” more along the lines of me watch­ing peo­ple. In other words, rather than think­ing about Him ex­am­in­ing and mea­sur­ing ev­ery­thing I do and ev­ery word I say, and judg­ing me, I think about how He must be en­joy­ing ob­serv­ing what ev­ery­one is do­ing and say­ing and how we’re in­ter­act­ing.

I imag­ine how I would feel if I made a huge Lego con­struc­tion and it all came to life, like in The Lego Movie. How much would I love watch­ing that?! I re­al­ize that’s a very sim­plis­tic way of look­ing at it, but I think there’s some­thing to the idea that God en­joys watch­ing us and finds us fas­ci­nat­ing. In the same sense that we love Him for Him­self, He loves us for our­selves—for who we are, for what in­ter­ests us, for what mat­ters to us, for our pe­cu­liar­i­ties and pref­er­ences. He loves watch­ing us, and He loves be­ing with us.

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