I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Rodger Nishioka, of Columbia Theological seminary speak. Dr. Nishioka had a number of interesting things to say (if you get the chance to hear him, go. You won’t be disappointed!). We were looking at the story of Jesus as a boy in the temple (Luke 2:41-52). When Mary and Joseph finally found Jesus (who had been misplaced), he was in the temple teaching the teachers. And when they asked him what he was doing he said, “don’t you know I must be in my Father’s house?”

Dr. Nishioka pointed out that this is where all of Jesus’ trouble began. This is how he upset and enraged the priests of his time. Because he characterized his relationship with God as personal. Good Jewish boys didn’t do that. In the cutler of the time, you weren’t allowed to speak God’s name. Never mind call him “father.”

But I am so thankful that Jesus did just that. I am so thankful that he changed the way we see God. I am so glad that as Christians we can write (admittedly corny) songs that say things like “and he walks with me and he talks with me…” Because we know a God who does just that. Who walks and talks with us. Who suffers with us. Who rejoices with us. Who hurts when we hurt. Who laughs when we laugh.

Our relationship with God is personal. It is not meant to be something we hold at arm’s length. It is meant to be intimate – God has seen us at our best and he’s seen us at our worst and he’s loved us at each of those extremes and at all points in between. It’s personal. He knows everything that makes us who we are. He knows very part of us – mind, body and spirit.

During Lent, take the pulse of your relationship with God. Are you holding him at arm’s length? Is there something you need to have a long, soul-bearingly honest talk with God about? Is there something for which you need to ask his forgiveness or permission? It’s personal and he cares.

O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts
even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing
on my head.
Psalms 139:1-5 NLT

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