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Draw Near to God, Your Master and Friend
"Close to You” is a pop song from the ’60s made famous by the Carpenters. It’s about the sweet longing someone has to be near his or her special loved one. For Gracie, I was that special person: the center of her universe, the guy around whom her whole life revolved. As far as I could tell, the best place in the world for her to be—where she felt the most comfortable, content, and loved—was close to me, her loving master and friend.
Gracie demonstrated this desire by her actions. She consistently did everything she could to be close to me. When I was writing, Gracie would curl up on the rug beneath the table and wait for me to take her for a walk. When I was cooking in the kitchen, she’d park herself next to the stove and watch me, perhaps waiting for a scrap to fall on the floor. When I read the paper in the backyard, she’d often nap with her head resting on my foot. If I had allowed it, she would have slept in my bed every night, ridden shotgun in my truck every time I drove, and sat next to me in church every Sunday morning. It didn’t matter where or when—this dog longed to be close to me.
Then, there’s my longing to be close to God, my loving Master and Friend. I know that the best place in the world to be—where I should feel the most comfortable, content, and loved—is close to Him. So why, I ask myself, am I not as single-minded as my dog? Why don’t I spend the largest part of my day trying to be close to God? Yes, I have family, friends, a career, and other interests to distract me—but I think the main reason pursuing closeness with God is challenging is because God is invisible and only perceived by faith. He’s not some guy sitting in my backyard, reading the paper. I can’t nuzzle up to Him and rest my head on His lap. He’s not my spouse—the first person I see in the morning when I awake. God is spirit and we are flesh. He cannot be seen by mere human eyes or heard with mere human ears.
According to Scripture, if we have received Christ, the Spirit of God lives in us. How much closer can we get to God than that? He lives inside us and promises to never leave or forsake us. And yet, just as Gracie and I could be physically apart—there are times when I feel spiritually apart from God because of sin.
One of my favorite ways to get back into close relationship with God was to hike in the mountains with Gracie. I’d find an especially convicting portion of Scripture and write it on the back of an old business card. While I hiked, I’d take out this card and memorize the verses. As I prayed, confessed my sin, and meditated on the truth, I’d look out at the beautiful mountains. The “sin gap” that made me feel distant from God was closed as this took place. Through spending quiet time with God, in His Word and in prayer, I was once again close to Him.
Gracie had her ways to get close to me. We, as children of God, have His assurance that He is always close to us. For once we open the door and accept Christ into our hearts, God promises that nothing can ever separate us from His love.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).