You are my God, and I will give You thanks;
You are my God, and I will exalt You.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
His love endures forever.
~ Psalm 118:28,29
This past September long weekend I had a great time camping with my family in northern Manitoba. We were blessed with warm, sunny, blue-sky days filled with bike rides, swimming in the lake, sleeping in, hiking, a nap (!), campfires with toasted marshmallows, an abundance of good food and friendly neighbours. The lead up to our camping weekends is inevitably busy, filled with preparation and anticipation. I’m often tired from late nights and unexpected tasks, and I find that my time with God is shortened or some days even pushed to the side. And once I step outside of my regular, daily routine and into the world of tents, sleeping bags and bug repellant, it’s even more difficult to carve out a specific time for God and I. And while my life doesn’t fall apart or descend into utter chaos for the few days without that God-time, there is a subtle shift, a slight, almost imperceptible difference in my spirit when I am not actively pursuing Him. It’s not guilt or condemnation; His revelation of grace in my brokenness has freed me from that weight. It’s not a move away from me on God’s part; He remains closer than a brother. Dare I compare it to sleeping beside one’s spouse? When you roll into your husband in the middle of the night, and you can feel his chest rising and falling with each breath, and you can listen closely to hear the soft beating of his heart and feel his warmth. But when you move away, even though he’s still there, still close, and he’s not moved, those subtle movements are more difficult to perceive. When I remove myself, ever so slightly, from daily intimacy with my Beloved, with Jesus, it’s harder for my spirit to perceive Him. And like a good marriage relationship, the rhythms of life with your partner become so entwined in your very being that a separation stirs up feelings of missing the one whose presence has become so normal, so constant. Hmmm, it’s interesting because I started writing this with the intent of focusing on how thankful I felt in my heart while swimming in the lake this weekend (there is just something about swimming in a northern lake that evokes deep gratitude in me for the beauty God created) but as I wrote, I just felt such a longing in my spirit to roll back into the intimate presence of God. My heart aches for Him, I long for Him and I’m thankful that He’s never stopped calling me.