"Am I a God near at hand," says the LORD,
"And not a God afar off?". Jer. 23:23
I remember what it was like before I knew God. He was very distant to me; the berth between us was seemingly one end of the universe to the other. I didn't realize it then, but sin was that distance between us. Like a wall, it separated me from Him. I was spiritually dead, while God was alive and thriving. I didn't learn that for quite some time. In the meantime, I hadn't the foggiest idea of where God was or how to find Him. I searched in books about Buddhism and spiritualismall for naught. God wasn't in those books. I tried reading the Bible, but it made no sense to me. I didn't understand that I had to read the Bible with my heart, not my head. I didn't know that it was the Holy Spirit that I needed to help me understand it. But I kept trying a little at a time. God had to reveal myself and Himself to me through His written word. I eventually learned that I was a sin-sick person in desperate need of a Savior. "The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth." Psalm 145:18 I knew who I was, a sinner. I knew who He was, Holy God. So I called out, across the great chasm of spiritual life and death. God heard that call. He bent His ear to hear and drew near to me. He revealed His Son to me. Jesus was the bridge that closed that gap. By His grace, I received salvation and the Holy Spirit through trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of my sins. "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ" Eph 2:12 God was not far away anymore. What a glorious revelation! God is near! We who are trusting in Christ can all say that. God is our Father.
Our God is a "hands on parent." He is as close as we allow Him to be. God's word says, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." James 4:8a Spiritual life is not unlike the cycle of human life. When we are born we have a need to stay close to our mother's bosom. We depend on her for everything. When we are scared, cold, hungry, or uncomfortable, her gentle touch soothes and calms us. Likewise, when we come to know God, we have a need to know His presence in everything we do. As a child hears the soothing lullabies of His mother's voice, we can expect to hear the still small voice of God when we seek Him in His word, when we commune with Him in prayer and when we are obedient to the Holy Spirit's prompting in our everyday lives. "Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me." Psalm 131:2
As we grow, that feeling may come and go. Just as a parent teaches a child to walk, holding them by the hand with one finger and then letting go, God allows us to feel a little distance as we learn to maneuver as Christians in the sometimes hostile world. But we never have to fear because God is always near. "Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you. Isaiah 49:15
There may be times when we feel like God isn't there. But our faith is not a feeling. Faith is an action word. It is trusting, even when all seems to be falling apart. It is seeking, even when we have barely the strength. It is a knowing, even when everything is uncertain, that God is there and working through our circumstances. "The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit." Psalm 34:18 We take our broken dreams and our broken hearts and offer them up to God. He will take them and use them to mold us into the people He wants us to be. His dreams for us are far bigger than our own. Our hearts, once made of stone, but now made of flesh, are putty in His great hands. He loves us the way we are, but too much to leave us that way. There is no greater teacher than that of personal experience in trusting God with our hearts.
God our Father, so near and dear,
Come close now so I may whisper in your ear
I'll tell you my problems and seek your gentle face.
I'll wait for your answer. I'll wait for your grace.
When the tides of life ebb away to the sea,
I know that in heaven you wait for me.
You'll hold me in your arms and wipe away every tear,
You'll tell me, "My childI was and am forever near."