As a mom of four boys (ranging in age from 9 to 15), there are certain things from their baby days that have never faded from my mind and have etched an indelible memory that I will forever hold dear in my heart. One such memory can be traced back to their quiet, dimly lit, Noah’s ark themed nursery. When they were just infants and toddlers sleeping in a crib, knowing I was near was all the comfort they needed. I didn’t have to be in the crib with them (although if I could have pulled that off, they probably would not have objected), just being beside them normally calmed the anxiety they felt and relaxed them for a more peaceful rest. They wanted me near.
Near — where they could lift their weary head and peek through the rungs of their crib to see me there sitting in the rocking chair beside them.
Near — where they could hear my voice as I prayed over them, read for them, or sung a quiet song to them.
Near — where they could reach their tiny hand out through the wooden slats as an invitation to hold it and provide yet another layer of security to their little hearts. They could literally feel me close by.
I also watched this attribute of God illustrated on occasion at the park or when they were learning to walk. Whether they were coming down the slide or taking wobbly, unsure steps in my direction, the one thing that gave them confidence and comfort to move forward was my nearness. Knowing I was near, there to wrap them up in my open arms at the bottom of the slide or at the end of their brief and unsteady jaunt, was all they needed.
Nearness is a precious gift we give those we love, and it has the power to change a heart.
When a friend is sad, lonely, or grieving, nearness is a gift we can give them that speaks far more than the words we say in our feeble attempt to comfort them. Nearness is the gift we can give that elderly neighbor or grandparent that lacks the ability to draw near to others because of physical limitations. Nearness invades the empty space of loneliness and fills it with joy. Furrowed brows and melancholy stares are transformed into grateful smiles and softened eyes. This outer expression of the inner joy that moved into that troubled heart reminds us of the power that simply being near can hold. The gift of nearness is a gift that keeps on giving as it produces not only joy, but hope, security, and love. When we receive those things, we live those things, and then we are able to give those things to others.
Nearness is a precious gift our Heavenly Father gives us, and it has the power to change our lives.
He loves us so much that He chose to leave His majestic, holy, perfect throne in Heaven and draw near to us by becoming one of us. He gave us the gift of nearness in the form of a baby, Jesus, His only son. That gift moved into the lonely space sin had created by separating us from Him. We don't deserve His nearness, but He graciously draws near to us every day…as we draw near to Him. I jokingly commented earlier about how my boys would not have objected to my crawling into their crib with them to physically lie down beside them. That silly scenario provides and perfect picture for what God did for us. He is not only near, He is also with us. Wow. He is Emmanuel, God with us. His nearness not only calms us, it redeems, restores, and reconciles us. He drew near to save us. He longs to be with us, and He is waiting to see how we will respond.
James 4:8a says, “Come near to God and He will come near to you.”
We have a part to play in receiving this gift of nearness.
Psalm 145:118a says, “The Lord is near to all who call on Him…”
We must want it. Desire it. Call on Him. Pray. Seek.
When my boys were lying in that crib, perhaps afraid of the dark, lonely, or not wanting to rest, they longed for my presence in that nursery with them. We may have had a terrible day full of tantrums and turmoil, and I may have been physically exhausted myself, but this momma’s heart also longed to be with them, to comfort them, to give them the gift of my nearness. I wanted to be there when those weary eyes opened to catch a glimpse and see that I was still there. I wanted them to hear my voice singing and praying over them. I wanted to hold their tiny hand when they reached out for mine.
Perhaps you may be going through a difficult and lonely time, or a time of stress that is hindering your ability to rest. Your Father’s heart longs to give you the gift of His nearness. He hears your cry for help and sees your attempt to draw near to Him.
Psalm 16:8 says, “I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me.”
He is right there. He is near. He will always be there to remind you of the power of His Presence. When you peek through the problems, listen for His still, small voice, or reach out to Him, you will see, hear, and feel His Presence.
He wants you to see Him, in all of His glory and in the amazing things He is doing in, through, and all around you.
He wants you to hear Him — hear His Voice and His Word above the lies of the enemy and the loud voices of the world that attempt to drown out His Words of Life.
He wants you to feel Him — experience His peace producing presence that causes the weight of the world to fall off as you rest in Him.
So, declare that you are going to receive His gift of nearness this Christmas and throughout the year. Draw near to Him. Call on Him in prayer, and then watch and be amazed…He will draw near to you and answer that prayer in ways you never imagined.