Walking with God . . . Imaginary Friend or Eternal God

A recent TV commercial shows a young girl at the dinner table with her older brother. The girl asks her mother for an extra helping of food for her “imaginary friend.”  Her brother objects, saying it is not fair for her to get two servings while he only gets one. The mom says to her son, “Now remember, you also had an imaginary friend once.” When the mother turns away the little girl rakes the extra helping on to her own plate saying, “She’s finished.”

This commercial reminded me of how from time to time, my granddaughters created imaginary playmates. During our visits to see them in Atlanta, we often have a tea party with the girls.  The youngest, Emma-Kate loved to invite her imaginary friend to join us for those special occasions. I was always amazed at the different names she would create for her friends. Like the tea party, the imaginary friend is part of her make-believe world.

Who is God to you? Is He some kind of imaginary friend a person creates? Is belief in God something you grow out of when you get older like a childhood fantasy? How do you view God, and most importantly how do you relate to Him?

Do you wrestle with the question about what it means to pray and talk to God?  I do. Defining and explaining the experience of prayer has been difficult for me. This may sound strange coming from someone who prays daily, and has given several sermons and Bible studies on the subject.  During my formative years growing up in Kentucky, we sang an old gospel song entitled, “Just a Little Talk with Jesus.”  According to the words of this song, regardless of the problems you are experiencing, just a little talk with Jesus “makes it right.”  I always felt the theology behind this song trivialized our relationship with God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.  Prayer and conversation with the Heavenly Father for me is much more than “just a little talk with Jesus.”  However, what is it exactly? What does it mean to “pray without ceasing?” (1 Thes. 5:17)

Recently someone gave me a book that helped me define and explain what it means to live a life in constant conversation with God.  More Than Ordinary:  Enjoying Life with God, by Doug Sherman, paints a picture of what it means to “walk with God,” and enjoy life with Him.  His simple yet powerful insights about prayer and daily conversation with God are both informative and inspirational.

This is one of those books you’ll read over and over because it makes you examine and re-examine what you believe about God, and how that belief translates into daily actions and choices that honor and exalt the name of Jesus.

Many say they are followers of Jesus, but live stale, lackluster lives, moving through their daily routines, never experiencing what Jesus said in John 10:10 – “I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance.”  There are also many who live in such a way that “knowing God” looks more like a child’s imaginary friend.  In other words, their talk about God, does not match how they live. Their attitudes, choices, relationships and moral values do not match what Jesus taught and lived. God is there to make them feel good, but has no claim on their lives.

One of the main reasons I recommend this book is because of its practical suggestions and insights on walking with God. After taking the first six chapters to describe what an intimate, personal relationship with God looks like, in the final three chapters, the author explores specific ways to walk by faith, worship and praise God, surrender to His leadership, and ultimately enjoy an exciting and fulfilling relationship with Him. In other words, this is a book about how to make life an adventure through a daily, intimate, relationship with God.

In the final analysis, I can say with absolute confidence, God is not my imaginary friend; He is the amazing God of glory and majesty. He is the Eternal Creator and Sustainer of the universe who is “relentless in revealing His greatness and goodness to us throughout every day.” (p. 99) He is the One who guides my life each day, with whom I enjoy an amazing friendship, and through whom life is an extraordinary adventure.

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About Larry Doyle

Larry is the Director of Missions for the Piedmont Baptist Association. He has served overseas with the International Mission Board (SBC), in Charlotte NC as the Director of International Ministries, and as a pastor in North Carolina and Kentucky. He is married to Rebekah Hill, a native of Greensboro NC, and has two children and three grandchildren.
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