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  • Toni Wilbarger

Near and Far


I think we all go through phases in our Christian walk-- phases where we feel so close to God in the time we spend reading His word or in prayer, or maybe through a walk outdoors among the beauty of nature. But sometimes those phases take us far away. We get too busy to read the Bible or to sit with God in prayer. Before we know it a week, month, or year(s!) has gone by and we know deep down our lives are lacking something. Lacking HIM.


A message in a Christian recording says, "Child, come on back now, you've been gone too long. Let me lead you back where you belong. Right next to me." ("Right Next to Me" by Jordan Feliz). Let me tell you, those lines speak to me. Lately, I've been trying to do life on my own. And as usual, that doesn't work out too well. Has that ever happened to you, or am I the only one?


The Bible addresses this too. "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you." (James 4:8a) And, to some extent, the reverse seems true. When we pull away, He seems to step back a little. God is not a puppeteer, pulling our strings and forcing us to do anything. Someone once said, "God is a gentleman." He gives us free will to live our lives as we see fit. Sounds good, right? Until we discover that what we saw as "fit" usually turns out to be the opposite. When we become Christians, we realize God's ways are always best. That's when we decide to live our lives following His way, not our own. Our idea of "as we see fit" changes so it matches how He sees fit.


But when we wander off from God, we tend to say we're far away from Him. But the truth is, once we are His, we are never really far away. Whether we've strayed from God's path for a yard or two, or a mile, or even farther than that, He is still there. We may think we've walked away, but God is always near to us. Just a prayer's width. And it doesn't have to be a long, complicated speech. Just a short few words: "God, help me." "Lord, I'm sorry I've strayed."


See, when we trust Jesus as our Savior, the Holy Spirit come to live in us. THAT'S why God is never really far away-- because He never left us in the first place. We may ignore Him for awhile, but like a patient and loyal friend, He never leaves us. No matter what.


I know a man who gave his life to Jesus a dozen or so years ago. But he's walked away since then. He's been gone a long time, searching for fame and fortune and trying all the sinful ways of the world to get it. And he's cut himself off from those of us who care for him. But I know God has not left him. And I pray daily that this man will finally have that sizzle of absolute clarity and realize God was there all along.


Yes, his life is a mess. But so's mine. That doesn't mean Jesus took off on a heavenly vacation. On the contrary, Jesus never left. He's as near as our next prayer.



Until next time,

Toni

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