Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 57; 145, 1 Samuel 10:17-27, Acts 7:44-8:1a, Luke 22:52-62
New relationships are exciting. We learn new things. We feel new things. We expect new things. But as a relationship matures, we realize we can’t depend on things being constantly new. Deep relationships are based on established expectations. If we are wise, we confide more in someone we’ve grown to trust over time than in our most recent acquaintance. Unfortunately, we can become almost addicted to the excitement of new relationships because they raise immediately gratifying emotions. In the worst cases, we never learn to value depth over novelty.
In today’s reading from Acts, Stephen finishes telling his Hebrew audience the history of their people and how inconstant has been their faithfulness to God, the cycle of loving God when they are being delivered, and neglecting – or even turning away from – God after their memory of God’s deliverance begins to fade. In our passage from Judges, Saul has been selected as king because the people, in opposition to God’s wishes, want a king to be more like the idolatrous nations around them.
In what ways can we be like the ancient Hebrews? When people first find their faith, or have a faith-renewing experience, it’s like the beginning of a new relationship. They are wrapped up in feelings. They see God everywhere. They can be practically giddy. But novelty eventually fades. If the relationship ages without maturing, they need new experiences – like new “signs” – of God’s love and presence. An immature relationship demands constant reassurance because it values feeling over faith.
What a mature relationship with God may lack in flash, it makes up in substance. Like lifelong friends who are content simply to be in each other’s presence, our relationship with God may be punctuated with long periods of silence. We shouldn’t confuse this silence with absence or boredom. Like a fallow field, it may seem dormant, but below the surface its very structure is constantly renewed. While the steady maintenance of a good relationship, especially when it seems “dull,” may not produce the high of something new, an enduring relationship built on faith and trust is infinitely more rewarding.
Comfort: In times of God’s silence, we still build our relationship.
Challenge: This week, devote 10 minutes a day to silent meditation.
Prayer: God of renewal, I seek a mature and confident relationship with you.
Discussion: Think about your enduring relationships. What do they have in common?
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