The other day when I was speaking with my wise spiritual director, I was imagining these concentric circles in my life, ones that stretch to China, Puerto Rico, Mexico, many states in this union, and narrow toward local church, friends, and family. I was reveling how faithful God has been to show that God is just as present in China as in this country, and the irony that sometimes it’s those inner circles–church, friends, and family–where we have the most trouble trusting and inviting God into our lives.
We may not give up on friends or family all that easily, we may continue to share our lives together, but we might just be going through the motions. We might reserve our prayers and our hopes for far off places rather than those nearest to us.
We might have our reasons.
Maybe a friend’s made it clear that God is not for her, a family member has been burned by the church and can’t bear to go near one again, and we’ve learned to choose wisely the topics we’ll discuss at church, with friends, and at home, because conflict and harsh words are inevitable.
But as I reflected on the beauty of these concentric circles and the way God permeates them, I realized that it’s me, it’s we, who assume some people somehow lie outside them. Even when those in our lives have made attempts to separate themselves from God, no one is truly outside God’s purview. Even if I give up on people in my life, even if my faith is not really as faithful as I profess, God does not give up on me just as God does not give up on those around me.
So I’m lifting up prayers for those in my “inner circle” this morning, those who I’ve neglected, but God hasn’t, and I’m not just asking God to grow others toward healing, wholeness, and ultimately toward God, but I’m asking for forgiveness for the limits I put on the God of all circles. I’m praising a God for whom none lie outside, and a God who never, ever gives up, and I’m contemplating what it would mean for me to be just a little more faithful, and to truly believe and live as though none of us are ever outside God.
What would that look like for you?