As a teenager, I recall watching a dramatic presentation at some church youth event that impacted me deeply. The basic plot went like this. Young person at home, doing things that young people do, music playing loudly. A knock at the door - Jesus has come to visit. The young person becomes flustered, quickly turns off the "inappropriate" music, and tells Jesus to take a seat. The young person only has a few minutes before their friends will arrive to go out. Jesus picks up a book that is left on the table, this is quickly whipped away (also "inappropriate"). Another knock at the door - the friends have arrived. Young person tells Jesus to stay there and he/she will spend time with him when they return. Jesus indicates that he will go with them. Young person says no. This carries on for a bit, until the young person gets very frustrated with Jesus' persistence and effectively nails him to the cross to keep him from coming along. Of course, the young person has a moment of realisation and there ends the emotional drama.
I remember thinking this drama was highly effective in teaching what the Christian life is about and may have even re-enacted it myself at an Easter Camp or the like. Looking back now, I am quite horrified by what it taught me (and potentially many other young people). Jesus was to be a priority in my life. There should be no distractions. And when I fail at making this a reality, I may as well have nailed him to the cross myself. Guilt, guilt and more guilt!
A little over a week ago now, we had some friends come to visit us for a few days. We hadn't spent time with these friends since we lived in Tonga, seventeen years ago. We were friends on Facebook, but that was about where it ended. We now both had teenage children. A lot had happened in our lives since we had last met. But somehow, when they walked through our front door it was like our time in Tonga was yesterday. In the few days we had together, we laughed, reminisced, reconnected and had a fantastic time. There was no guilt about how little we had connected in the last seventeen years. There was no expectations that this should happen every year from now on.
In my experience, this is the nature of our best relationships. Time has no effect. Yes, of course, it is preferable to see those we love often and be with them through the ups and downs of life, but when it is not possible the relationship somehow still thrives. If this is how it is in our best human relationships, I would hope it is the same with the mysterious divine. Yes, its great to have our disciplines of prayer, meditation, reading or whatever you prefer. However, when this falls by the wayside for whatever reason, I don't think our first reaction when God shows up unexpectedly should be guilt. Our encounter will probably be just like it was yesterday.