She was shaking.
She heard the echoing cheers of her family, and she smiled in eager excitement, but she was scared.
I’d never seen her scared before.
She was so feisty. She listened when she decided to. She had an eye roll that could rival any 17 year old. She marched to the beat of her own drum, and I loved her for her. But today…
Her cocky little smile had disappeared—she was timid and unsure. She wanted to please her family, and she wanted to be brave. But she was hesitating.
I stood about 4 feet from her.
I locked eyes with her, patting the water…You can do it. I’ve got you.
She stood staring at the water and then at me. I reached out my arms to show her how close she was to me. See, you can hop right to me. I’ve got you.
She reached her arms out, but they couldn’t quite touch me.
She started to cry and motioned me closer.
I hopped a foot closer—I got you, sweetie, I’ll move closer.
She stopped crying, and I danced in the water, smiling.
I can’t wait to catch you!
She stood, bending her knees and preparing to jump,
But then stood up again, whimpering.
Look, I’ll get a little closer, and I jumped a foot forward.
I reached out my arms, and she reached out hers.
She leaned forward, grasping my fingers and pulling me tightly towards her until my hands held her tummy.
I let her dip slightly into the water, and she came up smiling.
Mommy, mommy, I did it. I jumped to Miss Crystal!
“You did! You did it!” Her mom exclaimed smiling and laughing.
How many of you want God closer? I always joke that I want God with skin on. I wish I could motion Him closer until I could actually feel His arms wrap around me in a protective hug, like my hands supported my little friend’s tummy. I’m never quite satisfied with the whole God as Spirit and not God as flesh.
God promises us that as we move towards Him, He moves towards us.
Come near to God, and He will come near to you. (NIV)
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (ESV)
What does it look like to draw near to God?
And how does He draw near to us? What does that feel like?
Drawing near to God involves some discipline, and I think it involves some delight, as well.
Certainly, we can read His Word—we can pray. We can live in communities that help embody Jesus to us as they reflect Him. And we, too, get to reflect Him as we grow in our knowledge of who He is and our obedience to what He says is best.
One way I’ve been challenged this year is to not only pray—to speak to God what is on my heart, but to also listen. To pause long enough, as I would for a friend, to allow Him to speak. While it won’t be audible, just like His touch is not tangible, He gives us the Spirit, which He says is somehow better than Him in the flesh.
Sometimes to listen, I need to move or do something, while simultaneously making room for Him. I need to take a walk with Him. I need to take a drive. I may take a bath and listen to worship music. I need to crowd out the other tasks and voices that seem to be so loud so I can focus on Him. Enjoy Him.
These are ways I’m learning to draw near.
And I can feel Him drawing near to me. I feel a little less lonely. A little more secure. A little less ancy for the future. A little more confident in the things He wants for me and from me. I told my therapist recently that in certain aspects of my life, it feels like God and I are on different teams. It’s hard to feel like He is for me. This drawing near, and Him drawing near to me is helping me feel like we are working in unison. As opposed to me fighting against Him.
And while I read in scripture that God delights in me (Psalm 18, Zephaniah 3), that is sometimes hard to fathom. The God of the universe delights in little ‘ol me? But why else would He send Jesus?
Just as I told my friend, I can’t wait to catch you, it’s fun to think about God willingly cheering for us, ready to catch us as we leap to the next task and act of faith He prompts us to. Delighting to hold us as we muster courage.
My prayer for you, friends, is that you’ll draw near to Him. In whatever ways that makes sense to you. I pray you will work to crowd out voices that compete with His words and His encouragement. I pray that you will live as the beautiful creature you were designed to be and feel the joy of the Father as He cheers on His kid. Leap to Him—jump into His arms as He delights to catch you! He promises to be there. He promises to come near.