Paul writes that he's convinced nothing can separate us from the love of God. Neither death nor life, angels nor demons, the present nor the future,the powers of the world above or forces of the world below, or anything else in creation. (Romans 8:38-39)
It's an encouraging verse, to be certain. Yet when I read it, I think my default is to lean toward all the dark things that feel separating - death, demons, the unknown future, the uncertain presents, the powers of the world below... These are the things we're really afraid will separate us from the power of God. Dark things. And in a fallen world, it's easy to understand why.
But Paul says the good things won't separate us either, and this takes a little more thought. Because how true is this statement! It's far more likely that the things that might be most separating in our lives are the good, or at least the neutral, things we encounter simply by living. Life, Paul says, will not separate us. Life as we know it, I can only assume.
Life, as in the trips to the grocery store on a Saturday morning, the family dynamics around the dinner table, the busy work schedule, that last-minute deadline, the realization that Christmas is coming and you're not ready (I'm not ready), all the little things that simply are, that simply must be in order for us to have life..or a life...cannot separate us from the love of God.
That's comforting, especially for a woman like me. It seems, at least in my experience, that it's more likely life than death that would threaten my connection with God. In times of trouble, as a woman of faith, I go running to Him. I lean on Him in death, knowing there's nowhere else to turn. I crumble into His arms (in theory - not perfectly in practice...yet) because there's no other safe place to rest. But in life, in simple life, I am far more likely to forget that He's there. To forget that I need Him. To forget that I want Him.
The same is true for angels and demons. Under attack, I'm going to run to Him. The demons that haunt my spirit drive me toward truth and freedom. But blessed by good things and graced by the protection of a presence I cannot see, it's all too easy to forget that there's a God out there.
The present is easy to get lost in; at this very split second, I may not need God. I may not consciously think of Him. But as strings of this very split second come together, all of a sudden, I can realize it's been a long time since I've thought of Him. As a song on the radio says, "It's been like a whole day since I stopped so You could hold me." Because time passes, and if I am unaware, I simply don't notice until the separation is painfully great.
And who among us can plan their future? How can we imagine where we will be with God tomorrow or the day after that or the years to come? Life is a dynamic force; it's always changing. We just never know, so we don't consider and then when we realize how long it's been, the separation has already taken hold.
I never stopped before today to think much about the good things. Whoever thought that simply being would be enough to separate us from the love of God? Or at least, to make us feel separated without our even knowing? Paul did. Thousands of years ago, Paul included this very thing, likely knowing the human nature might only comprehend half of his words. Knowing we would read, thinking it must be death or demons, but understanding that if we take the time to notice, we will realize it is also life and angels. Understanding, as only God's man can understand, that it's all too easy to get lost in simply life. And to remind us, powerfully yet gently, that though this is true, even this can never separate us from the love of God.