Sometimes I worry that friendship is like a game of Buckaroo. If I put too much emotional baggage on you, you’ll flip and run away. I mean, you want to see return on your investment right? We had this chat about my problems a couple of times, and you don’t really want to revisit the same subjects, do you? You don’t want to be turning out the same advice over and over again. You don’t want to see me with mascara all over my face again. We both want me to be on a smooth path to ‘better’, and I don’t want to let you down. So, in the evergreen words of Will Young, I think I better leave right now. It’ll just save us the awkwardness of our mutual disappointment in me. I’m sorry I couldn’t be your Eliza Doolittle.
A lot of the time, I challenge people to have more faith in humanity: low assessments of our friends’ loyalty can be more a reflection of a low opinion of ourselves than it is of their patience or care. But I’ve known it both ways: I’ve known the stickers and the scarperers. And even when I have been blessed with the former, I have headed for the hills in anticipation of what I take to be the inevitable. I mean, given that I am pretty unlovable, it’s guaranteed that you’re going to sooner or later stop with the ‘I love you’s. And I don’t want the hurt of watching them trickle away.
God is a boomerang. Quite honestly, the whole Bible story could be proof of His meriting a restraining order. Because every time His people push Him away, He just comes closer. After the Fall, after the awkward golden calf incident, after a ton of bad calls by the patriarchs, God didn’t run away. He made Himself vulnerable by dwelling in the tabernacle with them. From there He guided them and spoke to them. The Israelites probably didn’t pop round to borrow sugar, but still, that closeness to God, that ability to see His presence, to know that He was with you and not just a bearded bloke in the sky must have been incredible. But of course, it doesn’t stay so hunky-dory. The Israelites (and us) want a bit of space, a bit more wriggle room than having God living among them permits. So what does God do (knowing that our hearts were made for Him)? He makes Himself even more vulnerable, takes human flesh and walks among them. He ate with them, drank with them, wept with them, washed their feet. And what happens when we jeer, mock, torture and crucify Him? He wants to be even closer to us, and not just in this life but for all eternity. So he sends His spirit to live in our hearts (but it’s so grimey in there!)
2 Corinthians 3:3 “you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”
And He promises that one day we will reign with Him. Reign. With. Him.
Romans 8:17 “Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ”
Everything the Israelites had, we have in the most perfect, incorruptible sense. We are so safe in His hands that none of our daily turns away will send Him packing.
What I think this means for fellowship in the here and now is not that we shouldn’t seek it. It means we can embrace it without fear; we can take risks. Because whatever happens, we’re as close to our God now as it is possible to be. We have a safety net of infinite strength. He’s given us the joy of being able to love others and be loved by them- company in that net I suppose. But even if all that were to disappear, our hearts would still be full of Him. We would still have comfort, love, reassurance, and unbroken promises.
It’s the most beautiful form of ‘clingy’ I could ever fathom.