Life is not always peachy. Pain and suffering are all around all the time and all too often they enter our own little circles. All too often they come from no where and completely devastate our lives. Suddenly everything is upside down. Our prayers for help seem to hit the ceiling and rain back down to the floor. We’ve heard, “draw near to God and He will draw near to you,” but God coudn’t seem farther away if He tried. What then? How do we make a hole in the ceiling so our prayers can get through? How can we get out of this never ending cycle of pain and suffering?
Something that I have been learning is that drawing closer to God is not necessarily what the world or even Christians, tell us it is. Some say pray more. Some say to take walks in the park and enjoy Gods creation. We all tend to believe that being near to God is based on a feeling sort of like the warm fuzzy you get from seeing a brand new baby or a cute little puppy. I’m sure it is some times but more often than not, it’s a “knowing,” not a “feeling.”
As I’ve gone through this time of life crashing around me like broken glass I’ve found that feelings are deceptive. I have been feeling useless, unloved, unappreciated, no good, sad, angry, and, well, you get the picture. I new that I needed to draw closer to God because if anyone was capable of healing my damaged emotions it was Him. But I lack discipline so setting aside a particular time for prayer in my day is about as futile as trying to hold on to a June-bug. I do pray daily but my best prayer time is in the car while I’m driving and I certainly don’t have to drive every single day so prayer time at home can be quite sporadic. But I digress. I decided to do some ‘determined’ reading in my Bible as opposed to the haphazard reading to which I’ve become accustomed. Determined meant that I would read with a purpose and actually learn from it rather that just know what the words said.
Jeremiah has been my determined book of choice. I’m in Chapter 13 and I’ve really been amazed. I have read it before but honestly, because I had no real determination to learn from it, I was completely bored with it. I also had a distorted view of God because of my lack of understanding. If you’ve read Jeremiah, especially the first few chapters, you might have noticed that God was quite angry. And if you read them like I did, He was not a nice person to be around back in the Old Testament. He’d just as soon kill you as look at you. Or so I thought.
Actually, the Old Testament God I’m seeing now is not the mean and hateful God I saw before. By no means! I’m seeing Him now, for the first time, as the loving and merciful God He’s always been. He literally pleaded with the House of Israel and the House of Judah to return to Him before unleashing His wrath on them. They refused to listen. He even said He would not send His wrath if they would just repent and serve Him and they would have the land of milk and honey that He promised their forefathers. Still they wouldn’t listen. Even though they forced His hand, He still made a way for them to come back home and follow Him when their consequences were over.
I’ve learned that drawing closer to God, for me lately, is not so much feeling closer to Him through prayer, it is opening my Bible and reading about Him and understanding Him through it. Just like reading any book you can get swept away into the story and forget about your own troubles as you read the adventures and misadventures of others. And if you read with the purpose of getting to know this God even better, you can rest assured that you will draw nearer to Him and as He reveals Himself to you through the scriptures, He will draw nearer to you.