Cracks of thunder echo through the skies as I write. When I was a child the flashes lightening catapulted me from my bed and sent me flying down the hallway to my parents’ room. I needed their nearness. After rousing them from deep sleep, they’d usually oblige, open their covers, and welcome me in for comfort. As I drew near, they drew near. Under the covers, safe in the nearness, I rested.
These past several months have been full of tempest skies and thunderstorms and I’ve been frantic to find shelter. Certainly, I’ve looked to the Lord and the comfort of His Spirit and His Word. I’ve also looked to friends, to exercise, to food, to over-scheduling and under-scheduling, dabbling in just about anything that provides a little comfort from the chaos. But there have been days where I wonder if the Lord is near. Does He see my struggle? Does He hear my cries for His nearness?
In these times of waiting and doubt, I’ve been comforted by both the promise and the instructions of this verse:
This verse tells me:
a) Despite how I’m feeling, I am called to draw near to God.
b) God will draw near to me when I draw near to Him.
c) Maybe my heart has something to do with the distance I’ve been feeling.
Why Wouldn’t I Draw Near?
Sometimes, it’s simple apathy keeping me from dogged pursuit. Maybe I’m more interested in my social life, my career, or my family than I am in drawing near to God. When I don’t feel warm and devotionally close to God, it’s easy to give up on the pursuit.
Sometimes I don’t feel close to God because I’m oblivious to my own sin. Maybe I’m running from God because of shame or guilt. Maybe I’m not ready to confess my own need. It’s uncomfortable to go to God with my failures. When I feel far from God, scripture says I should check my hands and my heart.
Other times, I avoid drawing near because I am so overly aware of my own sins. I foolishly assume I need to tidy up my heart before God will take thought for me. “If I could just get over this sin, then I’d feel closer to God.” This is the type of internal condemnation the enemy would love to use to keep God’s children from pursuing His nearness.
Whatever it is that is keeping us from drawing near, it isn’t God who’s pulled away. My feelings of being far off do not validate my lack of pursuit. The prophet Zephaniah warned Jerusalem of falling into the same stubbornness we are tempted to – “Woe to her who does not draw near to God ().” Woe. Failing to draw near to God, is woe-worthy! We are to actively pursue God’s nearness.
What does drawing near to God look like?
says “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” So we come to God (through prayer, reading His Word, in confession) with confidence, knowing it is His grace that draws us near and sustains us in His presence. We trust that this same grace will be our survival means through any storm we face.
We rest in Christ’s ability to save and deliver. If He can save us from spiritual death, He can save us from our sin or apathy. says Christ is “able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” Praise God, our salvation and our closeness with the Father aren’t dependent on our righteousness, our reliability, or our resolution. We rest in our Savior’s abilities.
We draw near by faith, because “without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Our Father rewards – REWARDS – those who seek Him. And the reward? More of His presence. His nearness is the ultimate comfort in affliction.
Drawing near isn’t a physical stepping in, but an internal posture of surrender: I recognize my inability to maintain right relationship with Holy God. I recognize my utter dependence on Christ to save me. I confess my dependence on the Holy Spirit’s guidance. And as I lay prostrate in my posture of surrender, I wait in dependence – knowing God is near to me.
The Lord Is Near
These summer thunderstorms remind me that I’ve grown up and no longer need the protection of my parents’ bed. But I haven’t outgrown my need for nearness and comfort. The flashes of lightening and rolls of thunder in this life, call me away from self-sufficiency. Christ is lovingly drawing me nearer.
If you are in a season of life where you are wondering if the Lord is near, He is.
8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (ESV)
3:1 Woe to her who is rebellious and defiled,
the oppressing city!
2 She listens to no voice;
she accepts no correction.
She does not trust in the Lord;
she does not draw near to her God. (ESV)
16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (ESV)
25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (ESV)
17 The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing. (ESV)