I’m thankful to again welcome my beloved blogging friend Emily Myrick to share words of biblical encouragement! Her post reminds me of the blessed command in James 4:8: “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you…” Not only does she share her experience and wisdom, but she offers a 3-week “Closer” challenge at the end of this post, with a FREEBIE included. Don’t miss it!
“But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 4:29, ESV)
Does God ever seem so very far away?
I know I shouldn’t base every reality on my ever-changing emotions. But as an ENFJ on the Meyers Briggs personality test, I simply can’t deny that I tend to “feel” more than I “think”. And sometimes those feelings of distance are actually good indicators that something’s off in my walk with Jesus.
When I became a Christian my senior year of college, the new truths I learned gave me so much joy. I was able to face even the hard parts (like learning that my incredibly salty language wasn’t quite so pleasing to God’s ears) with this newfound strength in Christ.
But about a year later I began a dry season where my faith was put to the test. Graduation came, and I was hired for a good job in a new city where I knew no one.
Most nights my Bible sat, untouched, and I struggled through silent sins alone. My small group, my church, my friends who didn’t know Jesus – they were all back in my college town, and it seemed like God was still there, too.
I grew aware of my dimming flame for the Lord. Over time, I pushed through the shame in faith, determined to get my fire back to burning red-hot.
As I grew through that season, God taught me three crucial lessons in seeking Him wholeheartedly.
Draw Near Through The Word
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ESV)
Have you ever fallen into the trap of treating your quiet time like just another thing on your checklist?
I have to admit, there’ve been days I discount the honor and privilege it truly is to seek God through His written Word.
The reality is, as much as I’m in tune with my feelings, I won’t always leave my Bible study feeling inspired, encouraged, and enlightened. Some days will seem more like the Mondays that aren’t filled with date nights, but dishes.
But the reality is, those “dishwashing” mundane Bible readings are still an investment in your eternity.
The worst thing we can do for our Christian walk with the Lord is to overlook the importance of seeking Him through the Bible – God’s primary way of communicating to us. The Bible is filled with absolutely everything we need in order to grow in our relationship with Jesus, thus becoming more like Him (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
I’ve learned the hard way depending on a “verse of the day” to be enough is simply unhealthy for your relationship with the Lord. I wouldn’t expect my relationship with my husband to thrive by only talking with him every few days, why would my relationship with Jesus be the exception?
[clickToTweet tweet=”Spending time with God in His Word builds our relationship with Him. We come to know Him, to hear Him, and to love Him more intimately. ” quote=”Spending time with God in His Word builds our relationship with Him. We come to know Him, to hear Him, and to love Him more intimately. “]
Draw Near Through Repentance
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:1-2, ESV)
Repentance is one of those terms in the Bible that can sound overly-churchy and complex. After all, it’s not something most people use in everyday language, especially around those who don’t claim the Christian faith.
But I’ve come to love what I’m learning the true definition of repentance to be. You see, if I boil it down to only mean ask for forgiveness, it can quickly turn from life-giving to shaming.
I’ve walked with the burden of believing repentance was the “all on me” part of my relationship with Christ. When I lean on my own power to turn from a lifestyle of sin, all I’m left with is shame from not being able to drop the sin I’m trying to lay down at the Lord’s feet.
This pride doesn’t compel me to ask for forgiveness. I may be aware of my sin, but pride traps me in the shame sin brings, or worse, deceives me into thinking what is wrong is actually right.
You see, asking for forgiveness takes great humility.
Unfortunately, pride is what resides in my fleshly heart. The only drops of humility I possess are straight from the Holy Spirit Himself.
So true biblical repentance is asking for forgiveness…after the grace of God has melted your prideful heart.
Repentance is an apology initiated by God’s love that convicts your born-again soul to submit to His power in you.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Often when we think repentance we think ‘I’ve got to clean up so God will love me,’ but true repentance is initiated by awe over God’s love in Christ. ” quote=”Often when we think repentance we think ‘I’ve got to clean up so God will love me,’ but true repentance is initiated by awe over God’s already-existing love in Christ. “]
I used to think repentance is something I have to accomplish on my own. As if I could take credit for how God has changed my life! But understanding that repentance is something the Spirit leads you through when you submit yourself to Him changes everything.
I can boast in my weakness because I can leave it behind, knowing brokenness no longer defines souls submitted to Christ.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Sin separates us from God, but repentance restores us to God. It is the work of the Holy Spirit that brings us closer to our beloved Savior. ” quote=”Sin separates us from God, but repentance restores us to God. It is the work of the Holy Spirit that brings us closer to our beloved Savior. “]
Draw Near Through an Eternal Focus
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20, ESV)
Following Christ is no easy feat. Trouble will come, persecution will persist, our faith will be tested. It’s not a matter of if, but when (see John 16:33). We can’t deny this dark truth, but fortunately, it makes the good news of the gospel shine even brighter.
When I became a Christian I finally received an answer to one of the biggest questions I had growing up. The meaning of life became abundantly clear when I decided to follow Jesus. And the glory of God made it even richer than anything I could’ve hoped for.
As Christians, not only do we understand the meaning of life, we have the key to living it with eternal purpose. We have the Holy Spirit living inside of us, equipping us to live out God’s mission of making disciples of every nation.
Every single thing we Christians do, we do it for the Lord. This means even the ordinary every day of washing dishes and folding laundry hold eternal purpose. What we do matters because of how we do it and for Whom we ultimately do it.
What you’re doing matters, even if you’re not explicitly preaching the gospel to an unreached people group in the 10/40 window. Seeking God wholeheartedly and loving your neighbor as yourself, regardless of geography or capacity, is important because God created the definition of our purpose to include it all.
Our God is so gracious to sanctify us in marvelous ways, simple moments, ordinary days, extravagant events, and every other way he sees fit.
Seeking God Intentionally
If these three lessons have stirred up a longing in your heart to seek Jesus more diligently, I have a FREE resource to encourage you in doing so.
I created a three-week challenge to seek God wholeheartedly, complete with a free downloadable workbook. Closer will encourage you to draw near to the Lord through studying why we must be in consistent communication with God, the importance of repentance, and our life’s eternal purpose.
Get your FREE workbook filled with Bible readings, reflection questions, and unique weekly challenges over at Emily’s blog, MarriedMyrick.com.