“Oh Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.” Hosea 14:8 NLT
Have you ever been in a relationship with someone that starts off just amazing and then you find that a week, a month or a year (maybe more) later you aren’t as close as you used to be? The things about this other person that you thought would keep you linked forever in this amazing bond that allowed nothing between you seem to bug you now. You used to stay up for hours just talking and that just made your heart swoon and now you’re indifferent to the sound of their voice. There was a spark that electrified you and everyone around you when you held hands walking down the street and now one of you walks ahead of the other just a step and holding hands would seem awkward. What happened? You didn’t stay close because you didn’t work at staying close. Staying close to someone requires a dedication that doesn’t seem to last unless you really focus your attention and when you sense distance of any kind, you fix whatever the cause is and move back to side-by-side.
Our relationship with God is no different in this area except for one thing…God never moves away, we do. When we first become Christians or rededicate our lives there is a level of emotion that is just like being in love. God has rescued us from something or worked some type of miracle that causes us to have such gratitude that we devour everything about Him. Then life starts to creep in and we are still thankful for all God has done but we get less thankful for all God IS DOING. We move from present tense to past tense with God and we stop holding His hand. Like a 3 year old who lets go of a parent’s hand and runs away, we start to think we don’t need to be quite as close. We shorten our time with Him because hey, our lives are busy and we just don’t have that luxury anymore. The situation God released us from or the health scare that God healed is now a memory and we’re doing fine now so we move a step or two out of sync with Him. We start to believe the lie that says we can do life just fine and thanks, Mr.God, I’ll let you know when I need you and I’ll be sure to call now and then. God’s reply is, “stay close. I am your tree of life.”
Confession time…I started to do this, move away from God. A little over a year ago I had this amazing, life-changing moment with God and for pretty much the following 8 months I was so dedicated to spending hours in the Word and prayer that it was all-consuming. I used to joke that I was in spiritual rehab because God was doing alot of healing and alot of work. Well, as with anyone who is broken and then healing, I started to feel that I could be a little less dependent. My life changed due to a move and I felt that I just didn’t have the same amount of time and that it was ok, God would still “bless” the time I did give Him. I started to feel like I could do a little more on my own and a little less relying on God. I didn’t wake up at 4a anymore and read the bible and pray for 90 minutes, instead I woke up at 5:15a and spent 15 minutes starting my day with God. I didn’t pray over my friends and family as much, I shot up a one sentence prayer of, “bless everyone in my life”. (Is that even a FULL sentence?) I didn’t stay close.
Now, here’s the amazing, wonderful, fantastic truth about God: (wait for it)…God never moves. GOD NEVER MOVES!!! When we start to feel a distance between us and God, it’s OUR fault, not God’s. The minute that distance is recognized, whether it’s been growing for 5 minutes, 5 days, 5 years or 5 decades you can always draw close because God never moves. He’s always right there by your side. He’s always going ahead of you. He’s always promising to never leave you or forsake you. GOD NEVER MOVES. My encouragement for you today is to turn back and get close. It may not happen overnight but it will happen if you seek God first and work to remove any barriers. This isn’t an easy process necessarily but it is worthwhile. There is no disappointment in God so don’t let the enemy, who wants you to stay far from God, trick you into believing that God isn’t all He says He is.
One last thing…how to stay close is a personal thing between you and God. For me, I wake up at 4a and read the Word and pray for about 90 minutes. I am not advocating that for anyone else but me because it’s what God has called me to do. There is no recipe to follow for staying close to God just as there is no recipe for a happy and healthy marriage. It’s up to you to seek God and pray and ask Him how He wants you to stay close and then follow that path. (Now, if you want to try waking up at 4a please let me know and I’ll be happy to call you!!) The important thing is that you stick to staying close. God never moves and He doesn’t want you to move any direction but closer.
Live in God’s love, grace, peace and mercy. If you need a prayer partner, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.