Maybe we have such a hard time returning to God because we’ve wanted His love without His righteousness, His grace without His holiness. Maybe we never learned how to repent because we never decided to obey. Maybe we feel so far from God because we only want half of who He is. (Maggie Johnson)
We want to distance ourselves from the uncomfortable. We don’t want to be encroached upon. We want to make up our own minds, create our own reality and comfort. Even when we serve sacrificially, we want to choose options that make the most sense to us, affirm the change we want, impact the injustices we sense because of personal experiences and relationships.
If we follow God at all, we might be tempted to acknowledge and follow only the characteristics of him that we can agree with or understand. If we’re honest, not a single one of us can completely understand every nuance of God, yet faith creates a pattern of inhale and exhale of our perspective of him—expanding our capacity to understand with every inhale and filtering truth and misunderstandings with every exhale.
For those who have followed God for long, we see how faith can change over time—with every intentional exhale and inhale with him. Perhaps just as common is a transition into complacency over time. We might still claim to follow God, but we’ve become less intentional about breathing with him. We acknowledge he helps us breathe, but we are so comfortable with the cadence of breathing in and out that we primarily presume we do so on our own. We don’t rely on or acknowledge God with intentional humility and growth; instead, we claim him out of habit. We invite an erosion of faith.
Then there are those who chip away at their faith. They might see it as chipping away at God or uncovering more about him. If their experience, logic, or comfort doesn’t fit with what they encounter as the character of God, they might mistakenly debunk who God is instead of taking responsibility for not wanting to follow him out of their own preferences. They step away but blame or discredit God. Often times, they will present their change as a revelation, as if they’ve left ignorance behind them. They don’t see that faith in themselves allows for limited breathing, because it doesn’t seem that way.
Faith in ourselves might seem freeing, but it constricts our airways. The more we let go of ourselves and experience God as he intends, the more nourishing and purposeful each breath becomes.