“How can a man remain what he was when he has gotten near God?”
the nearness of God…
“But as for me, the nearness of God is my good…”
We’ve probably all heard the phrase, “Getting” or “becoming closer to God,” as if we bring ourselves near(er) to God through our own efforts, obedience, faith, and actions. With this mindset about God, sometimes we subconsciously view him as someone who is detached and far away, rather than as one who is with us and in us, and we wallow in failed attempts to make our way towards him. Our failure is not that we never “make it,” but is that we cannot believe the good news that says, “You don’t have to ‘make it.’”
Drawing near to God must be based entirely on the presupposition that we can only draw near to God because he, and he alone, has even made it possible for us to draw near to him by first choosing to draw near to us. “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you,” because he alone has made it possible for you to even draw near unto himself. We choose to enter into and remain in his nearness that has been made available to us by his eternal will and choosing alone.
God’s truths are larger and shine brighter than the stars, and at times seem as far away as these. But the greatest truth is that although his ways are larger and brighter than the stars, he is yet small and humble enough — human — in Jesus, his love far reaching enough, to stand beside us, walk with us, and live within us.
Take the story of Lazarus. Even though Jesus knew the end of the story, still he wept. Even though he knew he would raise Lazarus from the dead, he still mourned. He was moved by the grief and mourning and distress and emotions of those around him. Is this not how he is with us? Though he sees the big picture and knows the whole story, he stands beside us and walks with us in love and compassion. Jesus relates to me in my current condition, he relates to humanity.
Recently, at a weekly service I attend, the leader said this: “When you wander, wander with God. When you doubt, doubt with God.” The psalmist, addressing God, says something similar: “You have taken account of my wanderings…You have delivered my soul from death, indeed my feet from stumbling, so that I may walk before God in the light of the living…” And, speaking of God, “He will not allow your foot to slip, he who keeps you will neither slumber nor sleep.”
brings us nearer to ourselves…
Sometimes we need to forget about the details, about the questions and decisions and opportunities, and remember this simple yet life changing promise: “I am with you, I am near.” This is where we begin and end. “The nearness of you is my only good.” And because he is with us, we begin to understand ourselves in light of his nearness.
Sometimes we tend to see God as one distant and detached from what is precious to us. But really, he is the one whole holds and offers that which is so precious, to us. We cannot say God doesn’t want for us what he himself has made us for. God is the God not only of the heavens, but also of our hearts and souls, the deepest parts of our individuality and being.
Staying “hidden” with and in our Father is the way to discover what is hidden within ourselves. The more we discover God as he walks with us in his nearness, the more fully we see and realize who we are. In discovering God, we also discover ourselves.
Do we trust God with our heart and soul, do we trust him with our deepest dreams and desires, our hopes for today and tomorrow, with what matters most to us, with all that dwells in the deepest places of ourselves? Do we believe there is purpose and meaning and significance in all of it? Do we believe that they are more precious to him than they are even to us?
At times, I wonder, “Father, where are you in my dreams and desires, in the doubt and uncertainty?” I think he would say, to all of us: “I know your heart, I know your soul. I want these for you more than you want them for yourself. Invite me into the doubt and uncertainty.” In this way, he is not only near to us, but he is near in all that is precious to us, even when we are doubtful and uncertain of ourselves, and even of our God.
Jesus did not come to take us out of this world and rescue us from all of life’s difficulties and uncertainties, but to walk with us in the world, journeying alongside us through all we cannot yet understand.