Several years ago, I was leading a study on pastor John Ortburg’s book, GOD IS CLOSER THAN YOU THINK. I recall that many in the group had questions about faith, and some even wondered what to believe about God. It is why they wanted to do the study.
As we began, there was this assertion by Ortburg on the very first page: “The story of the Bible isn’t primarily about the desire of people to be with God; it’s the desire of God to be with people.”
I have come to see just how true these words really are. Ortburg adds: “God’s greatest desire is to be with us.”That means, he says, to be with us not just ever now and then, or when we feel particularly religious, or only in those times when we decide we need God.
No, God’s desire is to be with us—each one of us— every minute of every day… in the good times and the bad… in joy and celebration, and, yes, in heart- ache and trouble.
The apostle Paul said much the same when he wrote to the Christians in Rome: “For I am convinced that neither life nor death… nor anything else in all crea- tion, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38- 39).
Just think about that for a moment. Think about what it means for you and your life– at whatever place you happen to be or whatever you are facing right now—to have the assurance that God’s greatest desire is to be with you! No, the God we worship isn’t distant or haughty or arbitrary. He is very close to us. And always wishing and working for the best for us. Why? Because God loves us, and all of us are of “sacred worth” to God.
In fact, God loves us more than we can humanly com- prehend; and because God loves us so, then that means there is nothing we encounter that can ever come close to the power of such love. It also means (to me) that God can’t stop loving us. This is true even when we fail to love God back, or to love our neighbor; and, yes, it’s still true when we choose a path apart from God.Soon the season of Lent will be upon us. Lent can be for us “a clearing season,” as one commentator put it. That is, a season to sort through and prioritize the things that matter the most to us,
and certainly that includes our understanding of “God’s greatest desire.”
A question then: How do we approach these things knowing that God is so close, so desiring of being in our lives (and hearts), so wanting to be at the center of our thoughts and actions always?
Once again, Paul shows us: “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies (grace) of God, to present yourselves as a living sacrifice, holy
and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1).
Can I get an “Amen?”
In the love of Christ,