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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

God is Not Interested in Divorcing You

God didn't divorce you!!!

So have been working on some publicity materials for the Kansas Book Festival, where I will have a booth with my books available.  While doing so, a friend shared a conversation he had with a friend, as he was explaining my books to her.  As he went over the goal of trying to help divorcing folks in their relationship with God, which can often be strained during divorce, his friend’s observation was that it made sense, since being divorced from an ex-spouse does NOT mean that God is somehow divorcing you, or that you are divorcing God!  In other words, though this lifelong relationship with a spouse has ended, your relationship with God extends beyond the fall of the gavel in the courtroom.  And then, as I discussed this concept with my wife, her comment was that, though she felt like a lot of other people had backed away from her during her divorce, she never felt like God had pulled away.  All of which leads to today’s blog!

The wording is odd, isn’t it?  To think of God involved in a divorce from His people?  But the experience of divorce can, for some, feel like it has broken that relationship as well, because it can feel like you have let God down, or God has let you down, as you watch the failing of the vows you had once made “before God and this company.”  And it can feel that way because sometimes God’s people may act that way toward you, like you no longer fit in, like you aren’t as good a Christian, or even inform you that you aren’t welcome in their congregation any longer.  Most Christians aren’t that way, I don’t believe, and many of those who give that impression don’t even realize they are doing so, because that isn’t what they intend.  But that does not alter the reality of how it can feel. 
And yet, we instinctively seem to know that the idea of divorcing God or God divorcing us is just bizarre to us, we understand God to be a more loving and forgiving being than that.  Now, before I get too far along, let me suggest that the scripture is pretty clear that there is, indeed, a separation that exists between us and God, created by our sinful nature and participation in sinful acts…we simply cannot be close to God and involved with sin at the same time.  God won’t accept that.  But that is a far cry from the situation in which someone has been in committed, loving relationship and suddenly finding that relationship dissolved because God chose to bail out of it, or because it was a side effect of the dissolution of our marriage.  But my friend (and his friend) point out that divorce does NOT mean also divorce from God!   In fact, as I reflected on this idea, it made me think of a passage in one of my favorite biblical books, Hosea.  As Hosea describes the varied relationship God was having with his people Israel, and as God contemplates the point of no return, he finally speaks His heart out and declares:

How can I give you up, O Ephraim?
    How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
    How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within me;
    my compassion grows warm and tender.
I will not execute my burning anger;
    I will not again destroy Ephraim;
for I am God and not a man,
    the Holy One in your midst,
    and I will not come in wrath.  

---Hosea 11:8-9  ESV

So today’s blog is to simply offer an affirmation in conjunction with my friend and his friend:  God is not interested in being divorced from you.  And if other areas of your life have been splintered through divorce (or other difficult life experiences), that splintering cannot impinge upon God’s focused and committed love for you.  Don’t let anything ever convince you that God has turned His back on you…if anything, in these times of tragedy, He may be pulling you closer as He reaches out with compassion, even in the darkness of divorce.  And I encourage you to not let divorce impact your desire to reach back to God!

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