Monday, May 24, 2010

The God Fad

When I was nineteen and had first joined the Church, I felt like I was being given to the Lord in marriage. In fact, it is no surprise that this spousal analogy is used throughout the Old and New Testament to signify God's covenant with His people, and Christ's covenant with the church. It is a very special relationship, and not one to be taken lightly.

But it's easy for devotion to turn into a passing fad. I picture people saying to me, "Remember when you used to pray? Remember when you wanted to devote your whole life to God?" and it scares me a little. I used to be on fire for God; now that fire has dimmed to a flame. What happened, and could it have been prevented? Has God and Christianity become just another thing or cause I was 'into' for a time, and now I have found something to replace that desire? Has the marriage gotten old?

I have a friend who recently got married who said that he misses his "Invisible Friend." I guess he meant his new wife had, in a way, begun to fulfill those things that God fulfilled before. We can lean on God when we are lonely, when we need a friend or someone to talk to, but then someone else comes into our life that fills that role, and the dynamics shift. Where does God 'fit' now? Is God, as we imagine Him, expendable?

I have another friend who joined the Mennonite church as an adult. He was very on fire at first, and involved with the community. Then he moved, and simply failed to engage in religious life anymore. I suppose we all get 'into' things for one reason or another, to fill some need...for community, for acceptance, for purpose, for love, for curiosity's sake...and when we don't 'need' that anymore, we move on. But what do we really move on to? Does our past relationship with God seem like nothing more than an adolescent embarrassment?

I still believe God needs to be number one in a person's life, even before their spouse, for things to be in the right order. I always related to God as a single person; now that is going to change, and so, maybe the dynamics of our relationship will change with it.

And, I suppose, there are different seasons, different stages of development in a person's spiritual life. When we first come to know God, we are like wide-eyed children, eating up all experience with ravenous appetite, and bursting with possibilities. Then there is teenage rebellion. And then you reach your spiritual thirties, when things don't seem to turn out just the way one may have thought. Disappointment, disillusionment set it. And you wonder...just what am I devoted to these days?

I know God has not abandoned me, but sometimes I wonder if I have abandoned God through my lukewarm devotion, lackluster prayer life, and recent apathy towards all things religious. I pray and feel/experience nothing. Spiritual books appear foreign, superstitious, and sometimes, trite. The fact is, I simply seem to be more concerned with the practical aspects of living life, given my circumstances (getting married, looking for work, moving, etc). Unfortunately, God is far from practical, and religion is far from rational.