Thursday, September 16, 2010

Where Else Can We Go?

To you I call, O Lord my Rock; do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pit. Ps 28:2

We are all a strange mixture of faith and doubt. Even David, author of this psalm, expressed his faith by calling on God, yet expressed fear that He would not listen. In fact, those who claim God always responds to their bidding, are either dishonest, or essentially bragging they can manipulate God to their will.

For us, it is not whether God will hear, but whether He will respond to deliver us, that is mostly in question. But in the Hebrew language, when God hears, it includes the idea of his response to the need. Thus, the psalmist is not just asking if God will hear his cry, but whether He will respond to the need.

It is clear to the psalmist there is no other alternative to God’s response. He may wonder whether God will respond, but he has no doubt there is no other resource to go to. God is his Rock, and if God doesn’t respond, he might as well be dead.

Ann and I are both going through recovery, which is rarely a straight line—often two steps forward, one step back! Of course, there are medical resources to which we can turn, but they are not the source of our confidence. Medicine doesn’t have all the answers.

What we recognize is that healing is part of the body’s mechanism designed by God. Even medical resources originate in God, but when they are insufficient, He is our only recourse. The test of our faith is whether we trust Him to be with us when it seems He doesn’t respond.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Nearness: Proximity or closeness?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Come near to God and he will come near to you. James 4:8.

Nearness in the sense of proximity can be delightful or suffocating. For lovers, even bodies touching might not seem near enough. In a crowded bus, train or elevator, we could wish a clothespin on our noses is as fashionable as rings or studs.

God’s omnipresence means that He is always nearer than the breeze on our cheeks; intimidating for some and comforting to others. But that is a static nearness; He is always there, irrespective of our attitude or condition, whether we like it or not.

So it is obvious that this text, encouraging us to come near to God, is referring to something other than simple proximity. We can experience closeness even when far apart. Although our immediate family is scattered around the world, we are still a close-knit family.

In a similar way, God is as far removed from our understanding as a queen is from a fish. If our lack of knowing God separates us from Him, how can we become close with Him, with that sense of companionship so desired between humans?

God has bridged the gap by becoming one of us and revealing God in human terms. “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” John 14:9. Furthermore, He has given us his written Word, the Bible, in human language, expressing Himself to us.

The obvious way to come close to God is the way we turn any acquaintance into a companion: by communication. He speaks to us through His Word, we speak to Him in prayer. That is, providing the communication isn’t distorted by sin, distrust or boredom.

But we need to match that by loving our neighbour; after all, how we love our neighbour is a reflection of how we love God. Every “cup of water,” given in compassion rather than for gain, is given to Christ. Being close to Him is being close to those in need, for it is there we will find Him.