Freshman year in college I read a book entitled “The Games People Play”. Over the years, it was the premise of that book that has stuck with me. In a nutshell, it’s about the different levels of connection we have with those we interact with.
Often we pass people who are acquaintances or those we call friends and say “Hi! How are you?” They reply “Good! You?” It’s superficial kindness. If your talks never progress any deeper than superficial conversations about the weather, work, etc. those friends or acquaintances will likely drift away, almost unnoticed, because the relationship lacked substance. Casual conversation can be had with a total stranger; it is not until you share thoughts, feelings and emotions that a relationship starts to grow. Until you purposefully make time to connect. Think about it – your best friends, those you can count on to be there, are those who know your triumphs, failures, fears and desires.
We have evolved into a society of quick 4 word answers, often suggesting that our time is too valuable to stop and truly connect with our friends. I often wonder how this lack of connection is going to affect the future relationships of today’s youth who have only known this means of conversation. I have a really good friend who lives too far away. I enjoy the quick texts just to share something sporadic – but nothing does my heart good, or makes me feel a warmth and connection, like when we have a phone date or actually get to sit and share in person. Sadly, it’s not odd to go to a restaurant and find the majority of patrons looking at their phones, disengaged with those around them. It is really disheartening when I see it happening with families. Children sitting there, alone, while surrounded by family. The dinner table was often a source of interaction with my boys, where they divulged what was going on at school and with their friends. So many families are missing out on that just enjoying the “quiet” while everyone surfs … but it’s the quiet that kills. What you don’t make time for (relationships) will die.
This principle is the same way we must consider our relationship with God. There is a difference between acknowledging he exists and a relationship with him. If we casually recite the Lord’s Prayer or 23rd Psalm out of a ritualistic habit and only do that rarely at best; chances are good we are not going to have a relationship with God where we feel confident he will be there. He will be like a passing stranger that we hope hears our cries for help. Our faith is built in God, just like it is with our friends; talking (praying), reading and sharing our deepest thoughts and fears and listening for his guidance on a consistent basis. It’s in those moments he becomes real to us. For me, when I am in the midst of a storm and I get in a quiet place and cry out, sharing my deepest feelings and fears, that’s when I feel closest to him. That’s when he sends that peace that passes all understanding that was promised us and it floods my soul and brings me warmth and comfort; in much the same way a good conversation with an old friend will.
The book of Psalms is one written by biblical artists; musicians and writers sharing their deepest feelings of fear and gratitude with or about God. They didn’t just know him casually, but rather had experienced a deep-rooted relationship with their creator. To this day, it’s a book many people go to for a source of strength and comfort in a difficult time. Just like the music of a modern artist, songs touch different people for different reasons. Sometimes we just like the melody, sometimes it brings back a memory and sometimes we can connect deeply with the words and message the writer obviously felt. The same is true with the Psalms. While all are good, there are always those ones, that like a modern-day melody, resonates with your soul and you fall in love with it. This is one of mine…..
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in the darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished. If you make the Lord your refuge, If you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
The Lord says “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.