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Near


Near

High-Life Winter Retreat

When have you felt most near to God?  At what times in your life have you felt the Father dwelling closely with you? Consider just how sweet those times have been with the Lord, when he seemed so close that, as Donald Miller poetically describes, “You can see the lines on His face.”  It happened for me most recently at the birth of my daughter in August.  After nine months of anticipation and excitement, our little bundle entered into the world to the great amazement and awe of her mother and me. The creative power and spiritual presence of God the Father has never felt so real.  As I prayed and sang over my tiny child in the hospital I better understood God’s parental relationship with me, how he sings and rejoices over me in a very similar way.  It was then that I felt near to God and when he felt very near to me.

Are you longing to feel near to the Father too?  Knowing that a spiritual experience like the birth of a child or some other spiritually monumental event is not the next likely thing to happen in your life, what are you left to do? Are you finding yourself organizing your quiet time schedule in your mind right now?  Are you trying to dig up your recent sermon notes in hopes that a little more Bible study will bring you close to the Father once more?  Perhaps the right formula is a careful mix of prayer, a little worship, a little fasting, and a little solitude with God. But, alas, no formula is perfect, is it? The motions we may go through to “reach” God are of little value without the proper motivation.To just follow prescribed steps will not guarantee us a close and intimate relationship with God. As important and helpful as these spiritual disciplines are and can be, in and of themselves they will not bring us true nearness to God. 

Instead, drawing near to God must begin somewhere else. It must begin with a reorientation, a repositioning of where we stand before the Father. To understand the true beauty of our nearness to God, we must first realize what it was that caused our far-ness from God the Father in the first place. Our sin and misery in Eden removed us from a perfectly united and peaceful relationship with the Father into a broken and distant one. Our sin led us to the far country, to a place devoid of harmony, companionship and care.  However, God’s pardoning of our sins through the gift of his Son restored that relationship.  Our desire for nearness, by the power of the cross, is actually our desire to return to the relationship we had with the Father in the garden. Though Bible study, prayer, etc. are all excellent means to draw near to God, our efforts will be in vain unless our primary desire is the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, bringing us back home, near to God.

As you pray for that desire and stirring in your own heart, I ask that you would pray for the same thing for the Sr. High students and adult leaders of High-Life. This year’s Winter Retreat will take place February 17-19 at Camp ToknowHim and is entitled, “near.” We will explore and examine the times when is God far, when God is near and what we should practically do about it.  Will you also pray with us as we spend our retreat weekend caring for our covenant children and their friends, many of whom only know a God that feels very, very far in their lives.  Pray that God moves in powerful ways and that He not only shows Himself near during our retreat, but that His intimate presence would continue well after our weekend together. To register click here.