God Is Near. Can You Feel It?
I woke up from a deep sleep and a vivid dream.
My eyes opened and there was my clock, but I wasn’t comprehending anything other than the numbers.
For a few moments none of the weight of recent events weighed on my heart.
I looked at the clock and tried to figure out what day it was. When I realized I wasn’t late for anything, I closed my eyes again.
Am I supposed to be doing something right now?
Eventually I reached for my phone and opened my eyes again. I scanned the images.
No. Don’t open Facebook. Don’t open Twitter.
Where is God on here?
I want to be close to Him right now.
I opened a devotional app and started reading.
God is with you. Walking this road with you. Just like he was with Jacob, despite what a mess that guy was. Just like he promised Isaac and David and somehow Ruth and Esther knew too.
Lord, I want to be close to you right now. I want to FEEL it.
How can I draw near to you?
I’m working on a Bible Study these days with a friend and one of the take-aways is when you search for your God, you will find Him. He does not hide from us. He does not play tricks on us or tease us with scavenger hunts or long check-lists.
When you search for your God, you will find Him.
On the daily path. While making breakfast and sweeping the floor. While life goes on, He is close by.
But, Lord, I want to FEEL it.
FEELING God’s presence has a big following on social media and in our daily devotions. People suggest all sorts of ways you can FIND Him and EXPERIENCE Him and if you aren’t FEELING Him they suggest you must be doing it wrong.
I’m happy to report this is not Biblical, nor is it useful. I’m happy to report it because it held me hostage for so long.
But it’s not true.
Yes, there are moments where I’ve been sharing with someone about how God did something amazing, and chills have run up my spine. Yes I have been praying with a friend and felt the Holy Spirit hovering closely. Yes I have found myself speaking words of wisdom to someone, words I certainly did not have on my own.
But these moments aren’t the only proof I have that my God is close to me. In fact, without them I could still be 100% sure.
Instead God has told us specific ways in which He delivers His love, renewal, and reassurance. It’s called the ‘means of grace.’ My pastor keenly refers to it as God’s UPS. God definitely wants to interact with us. He clearly wants to be involved in our lives and proceeds to do so whether we are paying attention or not. He uses believers and unbelievers, the struggling and the strong, the weak and the failing. Ok, yes, He works through the people around us. Most of us are comfortable with that kind of language.
But so many of us hesitate to seek Him out in other places He clearly says we can find Him:
Purely and effectively present in the waters and action of Holy Baptism.
Cleansing and strengthening in the body and the blood of the Lord’s Supper.
Speaking loudly and clearly in the written words of Scripture.
It’s not sexy. It’s not exciting. It’s old school, while our humanity is always drawn to fresh and new.
But old news or not, it’s true. The text is clear on this. The historical church reflects hundreds of years of confidence in this. Whether you like it or not, whether it FEELS the way you want it to or not, God comes to us through specified means of grace.
Not via Facebook.
Not because I stayed silent for the right amount of time.
Not because I sat in the right position or went out into the woods or spoke in tongues.
If I want to be close to God, I can find Him…
For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. (Matthew 18:20)
Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22)
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (Galatians 3:27)
He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. (John 6:56)
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? (1 Corinthians 10:16)
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
Somedays I want to FEEL Him near me. I want to EXPERIENCE His assurance.
All I have to do is open my Bible. His Words speak to me, His promises reassure me, and His Spirit dwells within me.
These things remain true. Whether I can feel it or not.