Today, one of my students is leaving for college in another state, and so, on Tuesday I snatched up the opportunity to take him out for one last lunch meeting. We spoke of many things in anticipation of this vast life transition, but for a while we landed on the subject of making new friends. My student has developed many close, godly friendships in our church and he knows hardly anyone where he is going. So, at the same time he is getting used to college courses and a completely new city, he must also engage in the hard work of making friends.
Why is it that cultivating deep friendships can sometimes be so difficult? One of the reasons that came up in our conversation was the reality that making friends takes time, and it takes time because people will only open themselves up to you on their timetable. No matter how fast you may want to make friends with someone, they get to decide how much of them you know and how much of “who they are” you have access to. Some people will open up easily and the movement of the friendship will feel natural and smooth, but others will play their cards pretty close to the chest, and still, others will present to you a false version of themselves (i.e. – who they want you to think they are).
I certainly did not want my student to be tempted toward despair so I moved the conversation to our relationship with God. Our relationship with God is unlike our relationship to people because we never have to wonder if he’s holding back from us part of who he is. God wants us to know him, and to know him fully. As Azariah said to Asa king of Judah, “If you seek [the Lord], he will be found by you” (2 Chronicles 15:2). God does not play hide and seek with his people. As believers, if we want to know God, we will know God, because James tell us, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8). In a human friendship, a person does not always pursue you because you pursue them. Friendships are often be more heavily weighted on one side than the other, but in James 4:8, James is essentially saying, “You know God as much as you want to know him.” If we feel as if God is holding himself back from us in our relationship with him, then we are the ones to blame, not him. Why? Because he has provided us with his revealed Word… he has openly revealed himself to us! Who else in your life has given you a gigantic book detailing who they are, what they’ve done, and how you can relate to them?
Final thought: don’t treat your relationship to God like it’s a human friendship, because it’s not. God has no reason to hide anything from you – there are no skeletons in his closet or dark secrets that will compromise his reputation. In fact, what we discover about God will only serve to give him glory, so seek him freely, knowing that God never erects blockades to his glory.