I know that relationships take work, if they are to grow and evolve and deepen. One of the wisest pieces od advice I've received about marriage is to work hard at it. Some marriages end in explosive battles, often spurred by selfishness. Others, however, just fade away. The years go by and the days fill with other commitments, work, kids. Your spouse just always seems like she/he will be there, until one day you find yourself looking across an empty table at a complete stranger. I have an aunt and uncle that recently experienced this. They have amicably divorced, finding that they simply have different interests and wants after 25+ years of marriage.
I also know how much work friendships take. Again, with life so busy, friends who I used to see or talk to weekly, if not daily, I rarely touch base with once a month any longer. Some of my best friends from school I haven't seen in the past year. Others I am not even in contact with any longer. None of these friendships soured, they just went by the wayside.
What I had never realized, however, is that this also applies to my relationship with God. I am not always actively working at keeping our relationship strong. I don't ever mean to walk away from Him, and yet with a lack of work on my part, I find myself distant from Him. Why is it that I expect that our relationship will just stay the way it is, despite my lack of effort? No other relationship works this way. Life is full and busy. If I don't actively work at keeping my relationships strong, they'll fizzle.
If you had asked me what my focus as a faith-filled person was up until last week, I would have said "service'. I always strove to serve those around me, showing my love and care for each person in my life, and also those strangers I come across, by actively doing. "All we need is love" would have been my answer to the question of how to solve many of the problems in our society today.
But I have since rediscovered what our primary purpose should be. In fact, "Love thy neighbour" is the second great commandment. The first is "Love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." What I really should be actively pursuing in life is my relationship with God. For although I can try to love my neighbour as myself, my natural selfish tendencies will only frustrate this goal. With a strong relationship with God, however, he will give me the love I need to overcome my selfishness, and truly be able to love and serve those around me.
This will be sort of an experiment on my part, then. But I believe that if I focus on improving my relationship with God, really coming to know who he is and what he wants for me, then his love will fill me, and overflow into the world around me. I won't have to work hard at consciously serving others - the second commandment will naturally occur as I work hard at the first.
Relationships take work. So I'm putting my nose to the grindstone and getting some serious work done.