You Can Draw Near to God

God is Not Distant or Untouchable. You Can Draw Near to God.

Sunday Scripture

“Bam, how old are you?”

My oldest grandson’s eyes sparkled with pleasure over the edginess of his question, although I’m sure he knew I’d answer without hesitation.

“I’m 58,” I said because my September birthday hadn’t happened yet.

“You’re younger than Grammy!” he reported with surprise. “You don’t LOOK younger than Grammy! Your hair is gray!”

Smothering a guffaw, I agreed with him that I do indeed look older than his other grandmother, but he wasn’t done with his analysis:

“Bam, you’re the youngest old person I know!”

Of course, I couldn’t wait to pass this story on to my husband and my kids because it’s just SO completely in keeping with that little boy’s personality.

It’s also in keeping with the kind of relationship I want to have with him: available, accessible, open, receptive, thick-skinned, willing to absorb whatever observations he is ready to share. My hope is that my behavior toward my grandson will provide a small tutorial on the character of God.

God is not distant or untouchable. I have even discovered that he is unfazed by my questions.

God is not distant or untouchable. I have even discovered that he is unfazed by my questions.

Draw Near to a God Who Is Nearby

The incarnation testifies to God’s nearness. Jesus’s life in a body in first-century Palestine was lived among people. He did not hold himself apart from the needs or the naughtiness of humanity, and we can only imagine what life on the road would have been like for him and the band of twelve who had committed themselves to the following life.

One of his closest friends described Jesus, the Word as fully present, within reach, accessible, even tangible:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life…

1 John 1:1

Ministry is a life-on-life proposition, and this verse brings to mind images of long dusty road trips on tired sandals, a shared pot of something cooked over an open fire, drinking out of the same water bottle, rolling up in blankets, and sleeping under the stars in a borrowed field.

So often our perception of God is distant, “high and lifted up,” and certainly he is wholly other and”not like a tame lion.” But in Christ, the omnipotent has come near, the Creator God is “veiled in flesh,” and he knows my frame as well, remembering that I am dust.

Opening the postcard-sized epistle of 1 John, the invitation I hear from the Beloved Disciple is this:
Draw Near.
Be Real.
Come Close.

Obviously, this will look very different for you and me than it did for John, but the invitation is genuine. We draw near to God through his Son Jesus.

In prayer, we express our needs, the contents of our hearts, and even our inappropriate questions. In scripture, we find words about the Word and learn all we can absorb about his ways. Elisabeth Elliot threw down an unapologetic challenge to draw near to God through his word:

The Bible is God’s message to everybody.
We deceive ourselves if we claim to want to hear his voice but neglect the primary channel through which it comes. We must read his Word. We must obey it. We must live it.”

One way I’ll be taking action to draw near this fall is by memorizing the first ten verses of 1 John in community with the great people at Hide His Word. You can sign up to join us HERE, and you’ll be encouraged by the group and helped by the resources offered.

I’m wondering, what is your greatest obstacle in drawing near to God? Let’s get the conversation started in the comments below.

Holding you in the Light,

“The Bible is God’s message to everybody. We deceive ourselves if we claim to want to hear his voice but neglect the primary channel through which it comes. We must read his Word. We must obey it. We must live it.” #ElisabethElliot

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Hey, Northern New England friends!


Yesterday, I received the sad news that the Thrive Conference has been canceled. I was looking forward to meeting some of you there, so this is a huge disappointment!

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The fall issue of Joyful Life Magazine is out now, and it includes an article from me! Look for “If I’m Already Forgiven, Why Do I Need to Confess My Sins?” Too, my friend Sue Moore Donaldson is sharing her thoughts on spiritual growth. This print publication will orient your gaze toward the beautiful growth and change that the Lord is working in our hearts and our homes.

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44 thoughts on “God is Not Distant or Untouchable. You Can Draw Near to God.”

  1. Michele, enjoyed this post – you pulled together your grandson, conversation, Elisabeth Elliot, and 1 John 1:1. You remind us that Jesus bids us to draw near, be real and come close and no better way to do so than through God’s Word every day.

    Like

  2. Michele
    If only we could all view the world as children do what a gentle kind place it would become.
    We can all learn so much from these dear little ones!

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  3. “My hope is that my behavior toward my grandson will provide a small tutorial on the character of God.” The best grandparenting goal! I love hearing insights you gained from 1 John 1:1. And a hearty amen to this too: “the invitation is genuine. We draw near to God through his Son Jesus.”

    Like

  4. I’ve just been meditating on the ways Jesus drew near to us in the Gentle and Lowly book for Linda’s club. He really did everything possible to come near and be accessible to us. Now He reaches out through His Word and His Spirit. I love that saying of EE.

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  5. I believe this, but do struggle with sensing God without having a tangible presence. I love his word, and through it I am held close. But I often wonder why we don’t have a tangible God as Adam and Eve did…

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    1. Whenever my mind goes in that direction (which it often does!), I remind myself of Israel’s history. Even with parted seas and thundering mountains and a visible cloud by day and fire by night, they were a faithless and distracted bunch. I doubt if I would have been much better.

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  6. Michele, I so love your desire to be accessible to your grandboy. They do have a way of saying things that will either prick or thicken our skin, don’t they? Thanks for the reminder that our Father is even more accessible to us than we even realize. I think for me, the biggest challenge I’m having right now in drawing near to God, is time. As our family enters a new-in-many-ways season, I’m having to revamp my daily schedule. I’m doing this, slowly. He is so faithful to meet me wherever and whenever I come to Him with questions or cries.

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    1. It’s very true that older kids require energy and time (I think) in even greater quantities than toddlers and babies–even though we’re sure that we’re going to die of fatigue when our kids are little. I hear you in this, and my sighting from a few years down the road is this: “Hang on for the ride! It’s going to be a while!”

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  7. A cute story with an important message that God is not distant and He’s not fazed by our questions! I have certainly found that to be true and love that I can take all my edgy questions and even my doubts to Him!

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  8. Wow! How refreshing! I want to embrace this statement, “It’s also in keeping with the kind of relationship I want to have with him: available, accessible, open, receptive, thick-skinned, willing to absorb whatever observations he is ready to share.”

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  9. The trust and openness you enjoy with your grandchildren is exactly the relationship we should have with God. Accepting of ourselves and the journey we are undertaking. Thanks for linking up with #MischiefAndMemories

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  10. Such a great opening story. And enjoyed how your grandson said you’re the youngest old person he knows. That is priceless. But what really caught my heart’s attention is this: “God is not distant or untouchable. I have even discovered that he is unfazed by my questions.”

    Like

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