Sunday, February 6, 2011

Draw Me Close

The day at my church today was one of those days where I could really feel like God's Spirit was moving in the place and in the people gathered there. It's a day I know those who were there were thankful to be there. It's also one of those days that makes me a little sick to know that so many people that NEED to hear or feel God weren't there.
While the message today really wasn't on a topic that normally speaks to me personally, my pastor said one thing today that really hit home. The topic was fasting (and now I am looking more deeply into that too), and when it came to explaining some of the "whys" of fasting the only thing I heard (he said more) was that it was about pulling yourself closer to God and NOT pulling God closer to you.
That one thought kind of takes one of my favorite songs and pushes it way down on my list. That song is "Draw Me Close to You." I still love the thought of being pulled close by God, but as I thought about the pastors words today I wonder how accurate that thought is. As I think back through the Bible, I see that when people are drawing closer to God, it is God asking, prodding, even begging us to come close to Him. I cannot think of any instance where He forces us to come to Him. I also can’t think of anywhere when prayers are offered to God asking Him to come close to us. Maybe in some of the Psalms this is there, but I need to go back and look to be sure. Don’t get me wrong here, there are plenty of prayers for God to “be with us,” to “fight for us,” to “redeem us.” But to come near to us? I just don’t recall those types of models in the Bible. Stay with me here; I know this sounds off.
Does that mean we should not want God to be near us, with us? Of course not! What I take from this is that we need to take some responsibility for our nearness to God. Is He willing to help us? Certainly. However, the help He gives us in this may not be exactly what we want. Let’s say I ask God, “God please bring me near to you.” What I am asking in that request is really, “God, I want to feel you in my life. I want to KNOW you are here in this with me.” I think God is speaking back to me and telling me “I am here. I am in you and all around you. I have my arms embraced around you.”  Yet, everything I do and all the things I have around me still yell in loud voices that He isn’t there, and drown His words out. I think He is saying at least one more thing to me, “I am right next to you always, but you just aren’t choosing to see it.” As is the case with the salvation plan, so is the case with our intimacy with God, our relationship with the Almighty. We have our part in it.
Fasting is one way we CHOOSE to see how close God is to us. It is but one way we can CHOOSE to bring ourselves closer to Him. He is unchanging. He is ALWAYS near us. It is just a matter of whether WE are near Him. If we instead of asking God to be near us will start asking God to show us what is keeping us from coming near to Him, THEN we will truly feel Him, see Him in our lives and begin to live as if we know He is always near us. Fasting, Bible study, prayer, and other Spiritual disciplines are part of the answer He has already given us for how we can come closer to Him. So start being disciplined. Then see where that leads you. Be careful though; it might lead you right to the Cross. That is where He Always is, and we best be humbly thankful for that in our constant failings.