Come Near to God

                                 Come near to God and He will come near to you.

                                                                                              James 4:8                                                                                  

     Last year I set apart an entire day to come near to God.  I had spent afternoons of four hours alone with God previously, but this was the first time that I had scheduled an entire day with Him.  I did not meet anyone else the entire day except for an employee at Quik Trip.  I ate all my meals alone and talked with no one else all day.  I wanted a day just to spend in His presence, talking to Him in prayer, reading the Bible, and listening to Him. 

     Most of the day was involved in driving to different locations throughout the city.  I spent time in prayer at all of these places.  They included homes in which I had previously lived, schools, as well as several churches where I had attended earlier in life.  All the hospitals, offices, and clinics in which I had once been employed were visited as well.  The day brought back many memories of people and events.  A number of opportunities had been given over a lifetime to help others with medical problems.  In numerous cases, opportunities were made available to share the Gospel and to invest in the lives of many.  These investments had taken place in various homes in which I had lived, as well as in churches, hospitals and clinics.  My mind went back to encounters I remembered.  Many questions came to mind.  In the case of some, I was not sure that they had ever come to faith in Christ.  Others faced severe medical problems which had not been resolved at the time of my retirement.  I particularly remembered those who were following Christ as a result of our time together.  I had not seen some of them for a while and was concerned about their walk with the Lord.  Significant time was spent at each location praying for the Lord’s work in each life I remembered.

     Upon returning home late in the afternoon, I reclined in a chair and a quiet thought was given to me from the Lord.  He reminded me that some of the day was to be spent listening to Him, but so far I had done all the talking!  He prompted me to pick up the Bible where I had left off reading from the day before.  He had something He wanted to say!  The first four verses of Exodus chapter 34 were pretty hum-drum.  They were about Moses chiseling out some stone tablets. (Yawn!)   Then I came to verse five.  This was His word for me that day.  This is what He had been wanting me to know all day!  This was His promise to me from James 4:8, which says, “Come near to me and I will come near to you.”  The verse He picked out for me that day could not have been more perfect!  “Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD.”  (Exodus 34:5)   He wanted me to know that from the beginning of that day until the end, He had been proclaiming His name, the LORD, to me.  He was with me in every location, listening to every prayer, concerned about each individual, and answering each prayer as it was uttered!  How do I know this?  I know this because His name is the LORD, the becoming One.  He is the One who becomes all I need Him to be.  He also was assuring me that He was becoming all that the people I cared about needed as well.  He was taking care of each one, drawing them further to Himself and building them up in Christ.  He was also becoming what I needed in comfort, confidence and reassurance.  He was reminding me of his promise given to us in I Corinthians 15:58,  “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”  This day was a powerful personal reminder of His promise to us in James 4:8,  “Come near to God and He will come near to you.”

     James 4:8 begins with an invitation,  “Come.”  How often has this invitation been given to us in the scriptures?  How often has the Holy Spirit whispered to me “come” in the past?  Did I dismiss this thought simply because I was distracted, or not taking the thought seriously?  Did I really think it was all that important?  Did I even know what it meant to come near?   As I consider the significance of the word “come,” another word occurs to me.  This word is “open.”  I need to to open up my schedule to be available to Him.  I must open my mind to understand, and open my heart to respond to Him.  This involves waiting on Him.  This is not the waiting on Him for answers, nor the waiting for Him to fix a problem, but rather waiting to  know Him more deeply.  The “come” He is interested in is simply to be with him, to be changed by Him into His likeness, and to rejoice in my oneness with Him.    

     The Lord’s promise to us, as contained in James 4:8, is that He will come to us!  He is longing, yes, longing to reveal Himself to us.  Nothing pleases Him more.  That is why He created us, so that He might reveal Himself to us in love and receive our love in return.  As St. Augustine states, “He thirsts to be thirsted after.”  It is our knowledge of Him that produces our love for Him, which results in our worship and praise of all that He is.  He watches, and waits for us to come.  It is not just that He takes two steps towards us when we take only one.  No!  He comes running!  If you doubt this, reread Luke 15:20!   

     The LORD’s very name implies His desire to come to us.  The Becoming One is all we need now, or will ever need.  God, and God alone,  is enough.  Nothing but Him will ultimately satisfy the human heart.  We were created to know Him.  The more we know of Him, the more we want to come to Him.  To the degree and frequency we come to Him we will appreciate that He is, indeed, all that we need.      

In Christ, Richard Spann             

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