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Thursday, March 10, 2016

A few degrees of separation

Separation is a place or point of parting having occurred or about to occur. As infants, we grew quite attached to our parent and any degree of separation gave us a sense of panic, lending to periods of fitfully crying until we were once again reunited with that parent. We somehow equated them being out of sight as being unreachable, uncaring, or unavailable to us. It sent us into periods of what some may even call "panic".  I wonder if we ever quite experience that degree of panic over our separation from God's grace - maybe that is what draws us to him in the first place and keeps us coming back when we pull away on occasion. Maybe we experience a little separation anxiety when we are 'out of sync' with him - giving us that moment when we "panic" because we see the distance which has been allowed in our relationship.

Who will separate us from Christ’s love? Will we be separated by trouble, or distress, or harassment, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, We are being put to death all day long for your sake. We are treated like sheep for slaughter.  But in all these things we win a sweeping victory through the one who loved us. I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created.  (Romans 8:35-39 CEB)

There are things and people who will try to separate us, but if we read the passage again, we see it is impossible for us to ever be separated from God once we are united with him in grace - we might "feel" the anxiety of not being as close to him as we would like to be, but we are really never far from his reach of grace. That which separates and creates division is to be avoided and requires watchful attentiveness on our parts. All through scripture we find God telling us to guard against things which can bring distraction and lure us into places we should not go. When we depart from where we are designed to attach, we experience anxiety.

Lots of things may lead to detachment in life, but it is important to see that in our relationship with Christ it isn't really detachment as much as it is being estranged. We are still in relationship, but we are just not as close as we should be. We don't need to reattach, we just need to draw closer - the attachment never ended!  We need to reconnect - something you might hear me say all the time. I don't think we need more proof he is there - we just need to draw a little closer and we will realize he never left.

The sense of anxiety we feel when we realize we aren't in close relationship isn't really to cause us stress or pain, but to cause to look at where we are, who is absent from us (God), and then to search him out until we find we are near to him again. It is like when we were kids waking up from a nap - we suspected we were alone, but were so delighted to find we were totally wrong when we discovered mom or dad in the next room! We may not have seen them, but they were there all the time - usually doing what parents do and making things ready for us as we were ready to re-engage as we woke from our nap. We may not sense God all the time, but he never is far from us. Maybe he allows a few degrees of separation on occasion to get us moving in the right direction again, or to help us understand he never has really left us - we just need to reconnect with his grace again.  Just sayin!