Response Required

Over the last year, we've entered a new phase of parenting. It's the phase of getting to know some of our kids’ friends. Becky and I get opportunities to connect with them at school events, at the park, and sometimes we have the privilege of having them in our home. It's lots of fun to interact with our kids’ friends.

However, our oldest daughter has one friend who refuses to talk to me. I can't even get a simple greeting like a "Hello" or a "Hi" out of her. As of late, it's become a game between the two of us. Every time I see her, I go way out of my way to say hi to her. Just about every time, she smiles, rolls her eyes, and looks the other way. At one level, it's endearing and fun. But at another level, I'm dumbfounded as to why I can't get her to even say hi!?

The other day, after dropping off my daughter at school and getting my normal "non-response" from her friend, my interaction with her got me thinking about my relationship with God. Specifically, wondering if God ever feels the way I feel when I don't get a response from my daughter's friend.

Here's what I mean. I hold this conviction that God is always present and at work in our lives. Jesus says so Himself in John 5:17, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working." Essentially, you could say that God is always seeking to get our attention, desiring to make a connection, and continually attempting to reveal more of Himself to us. The question is, are we paying attention? Do we notice? Do we care? And if we do, are we responding?

I think there are many of us who believe that God is speaking and revealing Himself. I think many of us are aware, but are we responding?

My daughter's friend knows I'm there. She sees me. She hears my voice and knows that I am talking directly to her. She's very aware, yet refuses to respond.  It's one thing to believe and know that God is at work, it's another thing to respond.

When speaking about responding to God, I'm not talking about giving God a return greeting like "Hi, God,” rather I'm talking about engaging in a deep relationship with God and surrendering more of your life to Him. God's desire is that we would be ever-conformed to His likeness and image.

But maybe you're hesitant to truly respond. Maybe you're a little scared. And maybe that's ok. It's no small matter to surrender your life to God. If you do, you're acknowledging that your life is no longer your own. Essentially, you're turning the reins of your life over to Him.

So, in some ways acknowledging God's presence, but not actually responding, may feel a bit safer. But without fully entering into the relationship you never experience the joy that the relationship brings.

All relationships have risk involved. All relationships cost you something, and the deeper you go more risk is involved and the cost is greater. But the potential for joy and meaningful connection greatly increase.

There is a great story in 1 Samuel 3 where God calls young Samuel to be a prophet and leader among His people. Samuel is lying in bed one evening and hears a voice calling to him. He thinks it's his mentor, Eli. Three times, in the middle of the night,  Samuel runs to Eli saying, "Here I am; you called me." Eli repeatedly tells Samuel it wasn't him who called. After the third time, Eli realizes it is the Lord calling to Samuel and tells him to respond by simply saying, "Speak, for your servant is listening."

When God calls to Samuel, Samuel postures himself in a place of surrender and submission. He puts himself before the Lord as His servant. It's a beautiful picture of the simplicity of responding, yet of the significance of giving your life to the Lord.

So, if you sense God is calling you, do the same thing Samuel did. Open yourself up to Him. Ask God to keep speaking. And when He does, respond by following wherever He leads you. A great journey and adventure await.