A strange thing happened a couple of years back while I was in Shanghai sitting alongside their beautiful boardwalk called “the Bund”. It was a beautiful sunny day and I was enjoying the magnificence of the completely new city laid out before me.
With the sun shining off the river, I had fallen into that sort of trance one can slowly drift into when you are somewhere you want to remember for the rest of your life.
I was looking to my left when I felt a soft touch on my right cheek, and due to my trance-like state it took me a while to register the sensation. By the time I turned, whatever had caused it was gone. All I saw was two young women walking away with their back to me.
Eva, my wife, was a couple of hundred feet away watching me soak it all in, and laughed when she saw what happened. Apparently a young woman had sat down quickly beside me and cuddled up close so she could put her head on my shoulder while her friend quickly took her picture with me. It was all very quick and done in seconds.
It is amusing to wonder who she might have thought I was. Who knows the point of it? We can only speculate that she wanted a picture with me so that she could use it to brag to her friends that she was in a relationship with a foreigner. Maybe that way her friends would see her as more important, all without having to bother actually building a real relationship.
In our culture, we laugh at such a notion because it seems so artificial, but I wonder how many of us do the same thing in our relationship with God.
How often do we use Him to get what we want without bothering to actually take the time to first get to know Him? When we need something, we quickly push our way into His presence, usually without first taking the time to connect with Him, like we would with a real relationship.
I have sometimes wondered if this behavior causes God to long to be talked to as a true friend might?
When I look at the number of times in which God appears to change His mind in the OT, it really doesn’t make any sense.
Of course God is wiser and more powerful than any of us, and we should fear Him as we are told to do. Yet, at the same time, why would a God who knows everything, and created everything, take the advice of mere foolish humans – unless it was to build a sense of community with them?
To me the longing for a relationship seems to be the only reasonable reason that an all-knowing, all-powerful God would ever change His mind. Yet, there are many examples where He appears to do just that.
King David seemed to have that type of relationship with God. It was a relationship that was built on more than requesting things. Moses wrote about such a situation in Exodus 32:14, where it says after Moses and God had talked, “So the Lord changed His mind…”. Jeremiah had it happen as well in the 26th chapter of his book; and Isaiah appears to cause God to change His mind in the 31st chapter of that book.
Does God so desire real relationships with those who are genuine, that at times He is willing to give and take in order to maintain that bond?
It is impossible to put ourselves completely into the mind of God, being that we are not Him; yet if we try, it does seem “possible” to imagine that a God who willingly died for us, might also long for this type of relationship with us.
Maybe it is on this basis that we can become like those saints of old who built a true and authentic relationship, where that is not just a repetition of asks, and one-way communication; but instead that type which is founded on the honesty of true friendship.
In that type of relationship, we commune with Him, talking over the things that we both care about, so that He also gets something out of the relationship too.
I think when we come to God with such a mindset we end up with even more than we might otherwise imagine. If we are sincere in our desire to bless Him, as much as He does us, we might end up understanding how He works.