Christian Devotions

Is God Near?

Black holes permeate our world, places where the light seems never to penetrate.  We fall into them from time to time. Catastrophes, terrors and wars claim our attention. Circumstances conspire to separate us from the people we love or from our dreams and desires. Our prayers and thoughts seem to rise no further that the ceiling of our rooms. God seems very far away. But is he?

 Jeremiah 23:23,24:  Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off?  Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.

The problem with distance from God is that we have put it there. He did not. We have let our eyes wander from him to gaze at other things.  Our minds are occupied with day to day trivia. We have neglected our attitude of gratitude. We have forgotten that he is with us as immediately as our next breath. We may forget, but God never does.

Isaiah 49:1, 16:  Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.  Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.

He is constantly with us, whether we recognize it or not. So how do we climb out of these black holes? Hebrews has the answer for us.

Hebrews 13:15:  By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

There are times when praising the Lord feels like a sacrifice. It isn’t the natural thing to do. When losses overwhelm us, when children stray from the path we have set before them, when co-workers seek to undermine our livelihood, praise is generally the last thing on our minds.

“It is easier to act yourself into a new way of feeling than to feel yourself into a new way of acting.
~ Harry Stack Sullivan
If you ever saw the movie The King and I, you saw this principle in use when Anna sings to her son, “when ever I feel afraid, I hold myself erect and whistle a happy tune so no one will suspect I’m afraid.”  And later in the lyric it says “The result of this deception is very strange to tell for when I fool the people I fear, I fool myself as well.”
My grandmother used to recite a little rhyme:

Turn the corners of your mouth a little upwards, don’t you know / If you keep a’smilin’ always, discontent ain’t room to grow.

So if we praise the Lord when we least feel like it, we are sacrificing how we feel to what we know we should do.  And as we praise Him, we get closer to him. Well, not really. What we do is become more aware of His constant presence.
 Jesus came to his disciples by walking on the water. Peter got out of the boat to go to meet him. But he got distracted by the wind and waves. When he let his eyes wander from Jesus, he began to sink.
The answer is to keep our eyes on the Lord. He is our salvation, both temporally and eternally.
 Father, God,
Help us to keep our eyes focused on you. Let us not be distracted by the trivialities of life on earth, but keep our hearts attuned to your heavenly purposes.
In Jesus’ most precious name.

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