“As I recall,” I said to Stan one morning, “you have said that James 4:8 is one of your favorite Bible verses, is that right?”
“It is,” Stan replied. “What James wrote in that verse about drawing near to God and having Him respond by drawing near to me had a significant impact on my beginning faith walk. As well, that verse is a continuing focus for an ever-deepening personal relationship with God.” [Note to reader: See Day 12, “Choosing to Draw Closer to God” in Waiting for the Train: Biblical Food for Growing Before Going (www.s-toryteller.com)].
“How close is ‘near’?” I asked.
“I don’t know that there’s an answer to that question,” Stan said, “probably as near as God wants it to be. However, I think that may be the wrong question.”
“Rather than focusing on how close ‘near’ is,” Stan said, “it seems to me that the question should be, ‘How do I draw nearer?’”
“Oh,” I responded, “as in I have to choose to draw nearer before I can be near. Is that what you’re saying?”
“Exactly,” Stan replied. “In my faith walk, until I chose to move from where I was, which was a long way from God, to be closer or nearer to Him, there was no possibility to be ‘near’ to Him. It’s a process that I believe is to continue for the entire time I have on this side of eternity.”
“So,” I said, “it’s like a person chooses to draw nearer to God. Then God responds by drawing near to that person so, in turn, the person then chooses to draw ever-nearer to God. Is that it?”
“That’s what it seems to me,” Stan replied. “I don’t think it’s a one-time thing, a single move closer or nearer. It starts with a single move nearer, but that’s just the beginning. It’s to be an ongoing choice to draw ever-nearer to be as near to God as possible.”
“Kind of like the difference between describing yourself as a ‘maturing Christian’ rather than a ‘mature Christian.’ Is that a fair statement?”
“You got it, my friend,” Stan replied. “Drawing ever closer to God in an ever-deepening personal relationship is a life-long process. If I ever consider myself as close to God as I’m going to get, or if I consider myself to be a ‘mature Christian,’ with no further room for maturing, I believe I will be heading in the wrong direction!”
Bible verses to consider:
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8.
The Lord is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you. 2 Chronicles 13:2.
Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened. Matthew 7:7-8.
And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent. John 17:3.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, that you do draw near to me when I choose to draw nearer to you. I confess that too often I do not choose to draw ever-nearer to you because I think I’m near enough. Please forgive that foolishness. And please help me in following every step of your lead into an ever-deepening relationship — a relationship that grows only closer and closer for every moment I have remaining on this side of eternity. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: Do you consider yourself as close to God as possible? Are you pursuing an ever-deepening personal relationship with God for as long as you remain on this side of eternity? Are you continuing to grow before you go? If no, why? Do you believe that maturing as a Christian is a life-long process and that there really are no “mature” Christians in the sense that no one is as mature as possible? Why or why not? If you sense you are being called to draw nearer to God, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?