Drawing Near to God
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God walks and talks in our midst as part of how the kingdom of God is in our midst.1 Our relationship with God is not a consumerist relationship; nor do Christians understand their faith to be a consumer religion. We don’t consume the merits of Christ or the services of the church. We are participants, not spectators. Accordingly, we seek to interact with God in a relationship of listening and speaking… Such interaction is part of our friendship with God.
In the last analysis, nothing is more central to the practical life of the Christian than confidence in God’s individual dealings with each person… The biblical record always presents the relationship between God and the believer as more like a friendship or family tie than merely one person’s arranging to take care of the needs of another…
God could have created a world of robots instead of free people who love him and understand his participation in the kingdom and their work. But then there would be no conversations. There would simply be direction and conformity. That picture robs people of initiative and freedom that goes into true friendship with God—cooperative creativity. Is there subordination to God? Yes, but not forceful direction that leaves no possibility of initiative on the person’s part…
If you interpret the conversation simply as God telling you what to do, you don’t see the importance of talking with and hearing God. But prayer is an honest exchange between people who are doing things together. God and I are at work together, and I need to invoke his power in that activity. Joint activity is a key to understanding how conversation flows. In such conversations, we also talk about other things besides what God wants done today. We talk about what is happening, what is interesting, or what is sad. Most conversation between God and humans is to help us understand things. God relates to his people in a way to help them grow and develop.
Specifically, in our attempts to understand how God speaks to us and guides us, we must, above all, hold on to the fact that learning how to hear God is to be sought only as a part of a certain kind of life, a life of loving fellowship with the King and his other subjects within the kingdom of the heavens. We must never forget that God’s speaking to us is intended to develop into an intelligent, freely cooperative relationship between mature people who love each other with the richness of genuine agape love. We must therefore make it our primary goal not just to hear the voice of God, but to be mature people in a loving relationship with him. Only in this way will we hear him rightly.—Dallas Willard
From our darkness into His light
God’s call on all of us is to be a light to those who are in darkness, but sometimes He has to take us through our own darkness so we will learn to depend totally on His light.
Oswald Chambers said, “If I am going to approach the holy ground, I must get into the right frame of mind—the excellency of a broken heart.” Our hearts break when we think we have missed our destiny. We suffer over unfulfilled purpose. But God perfects our hearts when we suffer. He makes us humble and compassionate, and these are two traits we must have for success in the call He has for us.
Don’t be afraid of the perfecting process that prepares you to move into God’s call on your life. It will establish, strengthen, and settle you.2 Just stand strong through the fire and you will be purified, molded, humbled, and made ready for what He has for you to do. If you walk step by step with God, you’ll come out of that time with a sense of His presence and power that will make it all worthwhile. It will set you on the path to greatness… A great person is one who is a servant: “Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.”3
When we acknowledge God’s greatness through our worship of Him, we invite His greatness to dwell in us. When we obey God and serve Him, then He does great things through us. This is the kind of greatness God has called us to in our lives. If you heard God’s call to greatness years ago and have been following it faithfully, that doesn’t mean you won’t hear a fresh, new call now. Or maybe God will newly define the old one. Whichever it is, you need ears to hear. If your heart is not quickened with anticipation over what God is going to do through you, perhaps your listening has become dulled by the processes of life. Find time to get away with the Lord and let Him speak to you again.—Stormie Omartian
In a fog?
Are you faced with options, choices, and decisions, but you don’t have any idea which direction to take? Perhaps you don’t even know exactly what it is you want. You know you want to move in the direction the Lord is leading, but you don’t exactly know what that direction is. You’re floundering, not knowing where to go, what to do, or how to do it. You can’t see far enough ahead to know what the outcome of each choice will be and where each choice will lead. You feel you don’t have enough information yet to make decisions. You’re under pressure to decide something soon; you can see advantages and disadvantages to each option, but you don’t have a clear indication of which one would be better, and the Lord hasn’t yet clearly revealed it to you.
Once when asking the Lord for His direction, the Lord told us, “When you drive into a fog and you can’t see where you’re going, the best thing to do is to pull over and wait awhile until the fog lifts. If you try to push forward, you’re at risk. This period of time is a little bit like that; you don’t know exactly what’s ahead, until the fog lifts. This is simply a time when the fog has set in, and it will lift. It’s a time when you have to hold tightly to Me and trust. Just keep trusting, have faith, look to Me, and hang on.”
Upon hearing this counsel from the one who knows and sees all things, we heaved a sigh of relief. It reminded us of the verse, “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart.”4 We knew that we were doing the right thing in waiting for Him to dispel the fog, rather than making decisions when we couldn’t see clearly ahead of us. And Jesus strengthened our hearts, as He promised, and gave us His peace.
I’m sure you can think of times in your life when you had to make a certain decision but you couldn’t seem to get any answers; but when you waited in prayer and with faith, trusting the Lord to come through for you, He eventually made the way clear—and you were so glad you waited and trusted. Waiting is an important element of the faith life. It’s not easy, but it’s part of the process that God uses to instruct us, teach us patience, build our character, and draw us closer to Him.
- To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.—Ecclesiastes 3:15
- Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.—Hebrews 10:236
- Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.—Psalm 37:57
- If we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.—Romans 8:258
- The trying of your faith worketh patience.—James 1:39
- After he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.—Hebrews 6:1510
The next time you’re in a holding pattern or in waiting mode, think about some of the preceding scriptures and be encouraged. The fog will lift—it always does!—Maria Fontaine
Published on Anchor October 2019. Read by Debra Lee.
Music by John Listen.
1 Luke 17:21.
2 1 Peter 5:10.
3 Matthew 20:26.
4 Psalm 27:14 NKJV.