Recently I’ve learned something that I suppose I already knew. Sadly, I never quite perceived it in this light, which is now abundantly refreshing to my spirit. In the past day or two, I had grown rather lonely, increasingly aware of the physical distance between myself and those I love back home. Despite the assured belief that God is always with me, I failed to rest in His presence in my yearning for the warm embrace of another. The fact that God was with me did not squeeze me so tightly that I would run out of breath; nor could I squeeze Him back. Little did I know that what I needed most was not a physical embrace, but a spiritual one.
In my shallowness I had confused myself into thinking that I had furthered myself from God. I pained at the thought of the increasing distance between us, incapable of doing anything about it. But here is what I’ve been retaught: Nowhere can I stray that is any farther from God; nor can God ever grow any nearer to me. He is closer to me than my own soul, nearer than my innermost thoughts. Even when I neglect to recognize His presence, He is there. Much like Adam, David, and Jonah, I erred in thinking that I could distance myself from God (not that I wanted to). But, the human folly is that we think in terms of the physical world. What I became caught up on was physical distance. What I thought I needed was physical touch. Everything we talk about or describe relies on the use of our five senses. Strip away taste, smell, sound, sight, and touch. What are you left with? Soul. And that’s where God dwells.
He can grow no farther from us. Nor can we run away from Him. There is no place that God is not. He is with us, wherever we are. I’ve always known that God is with me, but I now realize that I cannot be without Him. I’ve always strived to draw nearer to God, but I now realize that it’s not a physical gap that I’m closing. The goal in life is not to inch closer to God with every prayer. It’s to draw nearer in our experience of Him. It’s to rest, and reside, and dwell, and abide in Him.
I’ve always loved this verse, Psalm 18:2, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” I’ve always pictured myself, in times of trouble, running into His stronghold; this giant, impenetrable, castle-like structure where I can safely wait out whatever is pressing me. But I think my perspective of this verse has changed. I now realize that I need not run to God; He already dwells within me. I need not run into His stronghold; it already surrounds me. All I need to do is recognize His presence, and rest there.
No longer will I fear growing farther apart from God. No longer will I strive to inch closer to Him in distance. Instead, my aim is this: to not only recognize His presence, but to ever seek it. Many people have had the experience of recognizing God within them, but not everyone presses into Him. What we need to realize is that God is not simply there. He wants to be there. He is constantly yearning for us to engage with Him, to communicate back with Him. Furthermore, He’s given us the ability do so. I absolutely love what A.W. Tozer says: “We have within us the ability to know Him if we will but respond to His overtures.” So this is my prayer, to respond.
It’s amazing how much this resonated with what I read just this morning in Psalm 139:1-12! Thanks for sharing and for the great reminder!
Being away from home, on the mission field–on a spiritual journey–can be a very “lonely” place. It is lonely because you are isolated from what is familiarly loving and you are longing for it. It never fails though that when we are in a place where we earnestly seek Him, He will reveal Himself … because He is always near. Indeed, you have said it well.
Being lonely reveals itself in the spiritual, in the physical, and in the emotional. It is a natural response in our circumstances whether we are far from our home or in the midst of a multitude of family. Being lonely is not a sign of weakness or that we are lacking; being lonely is evidence that we are human and we were created to be in relationship–with God and with others.
He is faithful; He will always be there. He will also use people to express His Presence and Love for you.