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Distancing Techniques

22February2013

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“They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”   – John 14:21

Apparently, God wants to be close to us. If that makes you uncomfortable – if God’s nearness is undesirable, inconvenient, or bothersome for you – there are certain distancing techniques which can be used (especially helpful during Lent) to keep the relationship from developing beyond a casual acquaintance.

1. Look busy. If you look like you’re working hard, and your schedule is filled with pressing demands, noble projects, or even basic survival, then maybe God will respect that, and leave you alone. Constant scurrying allows no time for prayer or meditation. Perhaps God will understand that and stop demanding so much of your attention. Maybe he won’t notice that you still find time to surf the net, watch TV, go out with friends, read that novel, etc.

2. Another way to keep God at bay is to talk about God a lot, but never talk directly with Him. This way, the Lord can actually be on your mind a lot without ever disrupting your life or expecting anything from you. If you must say something directly to God, be sure to keep it as generic as possible. Never confess anything. Never ask for guidance or express gratitude. Whatever you do, don’t take communion. It will only encourage Him to pursue you with more vigor.

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3. The third distancing technique, and this is crucial: never give God access to your will.   Better to make up your own mind about what God wants. Stay away from Scripture and bible study groups. If you must attend worship services for family or business reasons or to keep up appearances, be sure to “tune out” during the readings and sermon. If you don’t know or understand the Lord’s commands, it will be easier to plead ignorance. Better just to assume that being a good citizen makes you a good Christian. Or assume that being politically liberal (or politically conservative, whichever strikes your fancy) makes you right with the Almighty and puts you on Jesus’ home team. As for Jesus, he has a way of speaking when you get quiet. So make sure that you’re always distracted by some kind of background noise, lest Jesus get in your head. He has a way of taking you deeper than you intended to go, of complicating what used to be simple, and of changing what feels comfortably familiar.

If I’m telling you things you already know, I apologize. As for myself, I’m familiar with all these techniques, having practiced them myself over the years. Of course, if you’re one of those people who would actually like to draw closer to God, it is possible to reverse these techniques in order to have a real relationship with Him.

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Finally, a disclaimer: I can’t promise that these distancing techniques will ultimately work in every situation. Results are not typical, and may vary. The Lord is a persistent deity who insists on going the full distance of Love for us (think Good Friday, Easter, Pentecost). Truth is, God just can’t take a hint, and his pursuit can be relentless. Through the whisperings of the Holy Spirit, He will likely catch you in unguarded moments, and insist on getting mixed up in all your daily affairs. If you’re not careful, He may just find a way this Lent to break through your carefully constructed defenses… to dwell in your heart forever and never let you go.

+ JAM@CCD

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