When God Feels Far

girl alone

“Do you really want…Me?”

Sometimes I feel God ask me this question. And it’s usually after I’ve been feeling like I’m not enough, and I’m trying to do more, and be more.  And He said it to me this morning.

“Do you really want Me?”

And I tremble, because, He already knows the answer.

The thing about Jesus is that He can see straight through me. He knows when I’m fake. He knows when my motives are off. He knows when I switch from love to selfish ambition. He knows when I’m just going through the motions. He knows when I’m too preoccupied for Him.

Almost like a lover, who can tell when you’re trying to make love…but not really into it. Not really feeling it.

Just kind of pushing through.

I have a chair in my living room, where I sit and be with Him in the mornings, before the house is awake.

But lately, my time with Him has been rushed, and not because I don’t have enough time, but just because my mind is rushed, my mind is elsewhere, I’m speeding through some Scripture, but I’m not really pausing to listen. I’m already looking to the next thing. And I just can’t engage with Him. I can’t slow down enough. But..

He speaks, you know.

And this morning I just felt Him calling me…to Himself. To, “Come closer.” 

And I just sat Indian-style on a wooden dining room chair and listened to this song on repeat. It’s called, “In Over My Head,” by Jenn Johnson. (The link opens a new screen in Youtube where the lyrics are shown.) And it’s just about wanting Him. It’s about thirsting. It about longing for Him at any cost. And it says, “Take me back to the place where my heart was only about You, and all I wanted was just to be with You.”

And as I listened, it was like He just put His fist into my heart, like He was massaging it. Like the way I sometimes work out the tough knots in my husband’s back. Just this slow, continual stroking…until they finally start to loosen, and smooth out, tender.

And I don’t really have anything great to say, other than He wants all of us.

And, if you’re struggling, like me, He wants you. All of you.

Because the other thing I love about Jesus, is that when He finds us in our superficiality…He calls us out of it.

He says, “I know you. I know you. Come here. You’re mine.

You don’t have to pretend with Me. I already know.”

So, maybe listen to this song? And just worship. And let your hair fall from that tight up-do. Because He’s real. And He’s here. And He wants to see you. And hold you close. He wants to work out those knots in your heart. And He’s the only one who can.

Years ago, I wrote a song from God’ perspective called “Secret Place,” and I used to sing it and just cry at my piano, because it always called my spirit to His. It went,

“You can find Me, if you want to,

In our secret place.

I’ll tell you secrets, you can hear them,

in our secret place.

Do you remember, when You loved Me,

in our secret place?”

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely need more of Him. Right now. Today. I absolutely need to come close. I absolutely need to connect. I need to worship. I need to get the focus off of me…and onto Him. The only place it ever belonged. The only place we are set free.

And I need the Spirit to come and break into the atmosphere today. Because I don’t want to do this without Him. And I don’t have to. I wrote a note and put it by the sink where I wash dishes, it simply says,

“You don’t have to do this alone.”–God

It’s a simple reminder for me to snap out of “auto-pilot” robot mode. And connect with Him, in my spirit. And all the thoughts and chaos that is in my head, all the desires, all the disappointments, and weaknesses, and idols, and comparisons, and pressure, and feelings of “not enough-ness”,  and incompleteness,  just to scatter them out before Him, and let Him sort them out. Because He can, and He will.

And His Word really does pierce, and divide, soul and spirit, and judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) And He sees everything. So we can just come.

“Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him. O people in Zion, inhabitants in Jerusalem, you will weep no longer. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you.…” Isaiah 30:18-19

We live in the Information Age, and sometimes our minds are just overloaded. Sometimes our eyes begin to blur all the news feeds together. And I love to write, and I love to read. But sometimes I just need music. I just need to worship. I need to lift up my voice, and let my spirit cry out, and be comforted. By Him. It’s what I was created to do.

Sometimes I need to come to Him, not like the Pharisee that’s trying to have it all together, but the woman who just collapses at His feet and cries, and wets His feet with her tears and dries them with her hair. And can’t stop kissing them. (Luke 7:44) How much better to have this kind of tender affection toward Jesus and be falling apart, than to have it all together outwardly, but a heart like a stone?

Oh, God, come and break me again.

Sometimes we lose desire. And we don’t long for Him like we once did. But it’s not too late. If you’re alive, it’s not too late, to stop, and turn your affections toward Him. I know today, I have to. Perhaps this song will help you, like it did me. Or perhaps there are others that will. Whatever it is, find it. He is worth it. He is worthy of our worship. And only in His presence is the fullness of joy we all long for. (Psalm 16:11)

He longs to be gracious to you.

And rises to show you compassion.

So, come closer.

Christmas is for Desperate People

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To My Daughter on Christmas,
I realize Christmas may seem a little confusing right now: This week you saw a glowing tree magically appear in our living room. (Then you were yelled at for touching it.) We went to the mall story-time and you got paper antlers and jingle bells to wear. Christmas music blared and as we strolled away, you saw a very long line of kids waiting to sit on an old man’s lap. Later that night, I dressed you in your new red and pink reindeer pajamas–but you kept calling them, “puppies.”

I know you are not yet two, but even at twenty-seven, this holiday can still make your head swirl. But someday, I hope you can see what Christmas is really about, and that is this: Christmas is for desperate people.

Last night, as you pulled all the ornaments within your reach off our Christmas tree, you kept pointing to one in particular you called, “baby.” We haven’t talked about this “baby” yet. But He is the reason we have Christmas at all.

See, a long time ago, the world was full of desperate people. And it was dark, and sad, and in need of a Rescuer. Remember how I told you I used to cry because I had to wait a very long time for you to be born? The earth was waiting for a baby too. But this was no ordinary baby. He was the Rescuer. He would rescue people from death, and despair, and darkness. Because the people loved darkness, they kept running further and further away from God. They didn’t know His love yet. What they needed to see, was a God who would run towards them. A God who would come close. At any cost.

God had been silent a very long time. But two thousand years ago, in a barn, in the starlight, in the straw, His teenage momma pushed out His warm, slippery, little body. And the moment this “baby” let out His first cry–the silence was broken forever. Between God and men.

And as His mom held Him on her chest and felt His skin against hers, she breathed out His name, “Jesus.” “Immanuel.” It means, “God is with us.”

And He was.

God had come. Skin to skin. Breath to breath. And soon, blood for blood. For the desperate. For the sinners. And that’s what that “baby” means. That was the beginning. Of God coming close to us. Of us being brought close to Him. Forever.

Sadly, some people don’t really know why we have Christmas. They try very hard to be happy and make it mean something, but they don’t know that the only reason to be happy is that the Rescuer made a way for us to be saved from going to a very bad place, and that we can be close to God now. Forever.

I’m telling you this because you are going to see big presents and flashing lights, and hear Christmas carols, and there will be cookies, and ugly sweaters, and people rushing around buying gifts. There will be little Santa’s and big inflatable ones, and reindeer, and movies, and ads for toys, and itchy dresses, and family photos. And I give you full permission to enjoy those things. But those are extra. They are not the main thing. Christmas is about Jesus.

And He came to save people enslaved to sin. To free people from addiction. He came to cleanse sinners in His blood and clothe the naked in His righteousness. He came to take shame away. He came to feed the hungry with good things, to make rich the poor, to set captives free. He came to give Living Water to the thirsty, so they may not thirst any more. He came for brokeness and unhealable pain. He came for the lowly. And for those who thought they were really holy. He came for people who would break their marriage vows. And for all the people who would be wounded by it. He came for girls that would take off their clothes for attention, and men who would take off their rings for satisfaction. He came for people with cancer, who would be healed in the life to come. He came for abused people, and sexually confused people. He came for depressed and anxious people, and those paralyzed constantly by fear. And shame.

And He came for people like me. Because, though you don’t know yet, you will know soon that: I am desperate. And I say this with tears: I desperately need Jesus. I need Him. He is life to me.

Me and your dad: we are desperate people. We are weak and sinful. We get angry. We do bad things, we think bad things. But in Jesus, we find an invitation to come. Not because of who we are, or what we’ve done, but because of who He is, and what He’s done. Are you desperate? I pray one day you will be.

Because of this you can be sure—He is coming back again. Not as a Baby this time, but as King. And He’s coming for the desperate. And only for the desperate. “For all those who have longed for His appearing.” (2 Tim. 4:8) And when He comes back He won’t appear as weak and lowly, but exalted and glorious. King of the earth. He will ride in on a great white horse, wearing many diadems, and He will be called: Faithful and True. On his robe and on his thigh will be written: King of kings and Lord of lords. And all the armies of heaven will ride in behind Him. And all nations and people will fall down before Him. And when He lifts His voice, the only ones who will rise will be, the desperate. Desperate for Jesus. And they shall enter the Wedding Supper of the Lamb and be satisfied forever. And nothing shall separate them from His love.

For God himself will be with them.

Immanuel.

So if you want to celebrate Christmas, my dear, we shall. We will celebrate the only way we truly can: as desperate people. As those who long for His appearing.

Love,
Mom

Photo Credit/Teamaskins