There’s nothing like being a father, nothing like holding your son in your arms, but there’s also nothing like having your patience tried by a little man who is literally knee high. This year I took my family to a New Year’s Parade; and like many parades are when you come a little late it was crowded. There was no way that my son who is under three feet would have been able to see through the throngs of shoulders with cameras, i-pads, that towered over him, unless I put him on my shoulders. So being a good dad I decided I’d give the little man a lift and allow him to sit on my shoulders. My son loves sitting on my shoulders, there’s something about going from staring at people’s knees and thighs, to being able to see above the big people’s heads that makes a child feel powerful, feel special.I felt good being my son’s hero, his superman. Having my son on my shoulders gave me a sense of pride of accomplishment. This is what good dads do. But my joy soon turned to pain. This parade was long. My strong but delicate frame began to wear down, it seemed as my son’s backside was getting heavier by the minute. I eventually understood where all the food was going. As time began to pass, my shoulders began to ache, and my back became sore. My son became my kryptonite, my strength was rapidly fleeting, but I made up my mind that we would stay until almost the end. After seeing enough floats and wanting to beat the crowd we decided to leave early, and seeing that my son didn’t have to look over anyone’s shoulders and heads to see anymore floats I put him down. My son was not having it though.
My son has gotten spoiled with me holding him, so much that any time I put him down on the ground he immediately begins to stomp his feet lift up his hands and say, “Up, Up”. He doesn’t understand that his papa is just a mere mortal, and though his mom might think he’s superman, he really is just a skinnier version of Clark Kent. My wife laughed as she saw me shake my head at my son, telling him he would not be able to ascend Mount Caramel for at least a couple of minutes. She too had began to understand that my shoulders were more narrow than those of Clark Kent. So off we went. Again, my son began to pull his little semi-tantrum stomping and saying, UP, Up, and I told him no he would have to walk. He would not take my no for answer and decided to fall on his knees and pout. I nudged him on here and there, lifting him up and distracted him by pointing at an airplane in the sky here, and there. Those worked for a little, but there weren’t enough airplanes in the sky to distract him. I eventually took a few steps in front of him to allow him to catch up with me. As I looked back at my little whipper snapper I saw he hadn’t moved and did not plan on it. I knelt down and extended my arms to him pleading to him on bended knee to come to daddy, anchored to the cement he stood frozen. He looked at me as if I were a piece of broccoli; Not interested.
Its amazing how much we act like toddlers with God. We love to have him carry us, to show us the great plans he has for us. We love large visions, we love to be held, we love the smell and the feeling of being close to God, but there are times when God puts us down, where he walks ahead and he calls us to walk. We who are spoiled by the closeness of God during times of intimacy are confused and shocked when God chooses to respond in a different way. We get angry, we get frustrated, and we become disobedient. God is patient however, and will not have his will superseded by the will of his children and he waits for us to come, to grow, to walk with him. He has laid out his plan, but now has left us with a role, to step toward him. To draw near to Him.
2012 is the year for you to draw near to God.
There it is, short and simple.
Drawing near to God will mean different things to you depending on your relationship with God. Sometimes it means not being on your daddy’s shoulders and having to put some effort in approaching him.Sometimes it means trying to locate where your papa is, sometimes it means giving up your comfort and going somewhere you don’t want to go.
Scripture tells us alot about what it means and how to draw near to God.
Take for example this scripture from Psalms.
Psalm 145:18 The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
This verse addresses those who doubt whether God will respond to their cry, will he answer their prayers. These people have been perhaps praying to God, or seeking God and have doubted God’s presence in their situation. They figure God was absent, had been absent or was disinterested in their circumstances or situation.
The Psalmist answers that The Lord is near. That is such a comforting fact. God is near, he is not far, he is not deaf, he is not disinterested, or too busy, but he is near. He is not near everyone however, he is only near a certain type of person. He is near those who call upon Him in truth. So what does that mean. It means that there are some people who call upon his name, who talk about God, do things in the name of God, pray and even sing to God, but the Lord is not near them.
Just look at this verse in Isaiah
Isaiah 29:13 The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.
Now this verse in isolation speaks specifically about a group of people who have a limited knowledge of God. They know the talk, the lingo, but they don’t know the heart of God.
But lets rewind a little bit and read the preceding verses; this is where it gets deep; and ironically it describes a large portion of American Christians.
Beginning at verse 10 (this is from the message version)
For God has rocked you into a deep, deep sleep,
put the discerning prophets to sleep,
put the farsighted seers to sleep.
You Have Everything Backward
11-12What you’ve been shown here is somewhat like a letter in a sealed envelope. If you give it to someone who can read and tell her, “Read this,” she’ll say, “I can’t. The envelope is sealed.” And if you give it to someone who can’t read and tell him, “Read this,” he’ll say, “I can’t read.”
13-14The Master said:
“These people make a big show of saying the right thing,
but their hearts aren’t in it.
Because they act like they’re worshiping me
but don’t mean it,
I’m going to step in and shock them awake,
astonish them, stand them on their ears.
The wise ones who had it all figured out
will be exposed as fools.
The smart people who thought they knew everything
will turn out to know nothing.”
Wow. If you have time, just take a second and read that again, Go get your Bibles, open your Bible apps on your phone and check that out. What the prophet was speaking to God’s people Israel, is a message that the Holy Spirit is speaking to you today. The message is this, the people of God do not know the voice or the word of God. What they thought was coming from God, the famous preachers, and the well known prominent prophets was simply words from blind men. These people did not recognize the word of God when it came because they were desensitized by the popular religion of the day; So much when someone gives them an authentic word from God to, they are unable to either understand it, or read it. The message gives the picture of someone given an envelope with a sealed letter that they are unable to unlock. It is not that they are physically unable to open it, it is that they are spiritually, and biblically illiterate.
For those of you who want to understand that more I suggest you read 1 Corinthians 2, Romans 8, All of John, and 2 Corinthians 3-4. Here’s is something to think about ask yourself Have I become hardened to hearing God’s word? Let me be more specific, am I receiving God’s word primarily through other people, or am I seeking his word for myself? I do not want to diminish the role that teachers and preachers have in expounding and illuminating God’s word, but if we are relying solely on them when we have the opportunity to feed ourselves, we are doing ourselves a great disservice. A child needs someone to spoon feed them, but after a while he should gain the competence and will to feed himself… stop waiting for your Pastor to feed you… you can go to the cupboard yourself. Once again teachers are necessary for helping us correctly understand the text we are given.. in fact they are given to us by God.. but some of us might want to examine what some of our teachers are feeding us. We might find out that it has been only sugary cereal and desert, when our souls are starving for meat.
Drawing near to God means drawing near to his word. Get to know God’s word, not just by opening the Bible and reading randomly. Read it systematically so that you will be able to understand the whole counsel of God. God’s word is an oasis that never runs dry, so rich that even after 100 years of study you will find there are oceans more to be gleaned. So begin by reading a whole book like John, or Romans, or that Old Testament that we often forget about. God has much to say to us, let us not deprive ourselves by limiting the conversation to certain books. Here’s another recommendation that I have been blessed by. If you don’t go to a church that preaches the Bible book by book find someone online that does. There are many great teachers such as John Macarthur, Alistair Begg, Chuck Smith and many more who will help supplement what your church may not be giving you.
Here’s a couple more verses for you to consider about drawing near to God.
James 4:8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Hebrew10:22 22Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
One of the greatest comforts I get from the James’ passage is the knowledge that if I draw near to God, he will draw near me. I don’t have to do all the work. God invites me through his Spirit to come closer to him, Once I take a step, God will take at least two. Here’s the kicker though, I have to respond by taking a step in faith. I can’t be double minded, I should expect God to come, to answer, to save. Scripture repeatedly emphasizes the fact that when I come to God what I am really doing is surrendering my will, my plans, my visions and expectations for those God has for me. It is therefore necessary for us to purify out hearts and our minds so that we may receive the heart and mind that God has for us. This is a very difficult task, but we do not come to God on our terms, we can only come on his, and his term is complete surrender. Abandon your ideas of success, of purpose, your ideals for your husband, wife, or job, and accept those that God has for you. I can promise you though it may be difficult, frustrating you can be assured that God’s plan is much better than what you have for yourself. You may not always understand, but God has made it that we trust him. So let us wash ourselves from our filthy ways of thinking and living; God wants to clean you up. He wants to straighten out your life, put it in order. Will you let him.
I realized that I am a hopelessly stubborn person, and at times I find myself mad at God because he doesn’t show me all the details or even enough details of his plan. Sometimes it seems contradictory against logic, but I have come to realize that I need to trust in His goodness and when I draw near in faith I am never disappointed.
Pray for me as I pray for you, remember this race is not to the swift or to the strong but to him who endures. If you have taken steps backward, God is still waiting for you; So draw near.
In Christ the Herald