Emoji. Hashtag. Climate change…. Social Distancing.
Words and phrases now common, which didn’t exist ten years ago. The last one, social distancing, didn’t exist ten weeks ago! More than avoiding large crowds and working from home, keeping our distance means temporarily putting relationships on hold. It means missing Easter with loved ones. In fact, social distancing, while necessary for the time being, is unnatural. It goes against the human grain. Sadly, we’re now held captive in the lonely town of Sequesterville, and many of us will experience a hollowness because of it. How can we fill it?
Socially Distant. Spiritually Close.
Having been made in God’s image, we have need for communion. We love because He first loved us. If we’re going to create distance between ourselves and everybody else, we need to fill that void with something. Even better, some One. Maybe it’s time to draw spiritually near.
Haven’t heard of Spiritual Nearing? Let’s define the term. Spiritual Nearing does the opposite of social distancing. It invites God into our personal space, intentionally coming within range, subjecting ourselves to His contagious character. Spiritual Nearing hangs around long enough to catch something, it totally blows away the six-foot rule. It is embracing something good, something no one can really have life without. Here are three ways to bring God closer during times when the experts say that further is better.
Spiritually near is the opposite of socially distant.
A time warp has enveloped the world which now only turns at half speed. How can we take full advantage of this temporary rest from the spinning hamster wheel. In times past we’d plead, “Hey, stop the world, I want to get off.” Well, we have our wish; we’re off. Let’s take full advantage of it. Let’s close our eyes, take a deep breath, and draw nearer to God. Right now.
Drawing spiritually near by making God your refuge.
“Nearer my God to Thee, though it be a cross that raiseth me.” The hymn writer suggests that the cross lifts us towards Heaven. But that’s true only if we’re nailed to it. Our major crosses today are fear for our loved ones and frustration in our current circumstances. We embrace these, not in the spirit of despair, but in the spirit of assurance. Psalm 73:28 helps us, “But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.” Whatever draws us further away from ourselves, necessarily draws us closer to the sovereign One in whose hand resides all power. Trust that God’s hand is moving in and through our current cross. Still your anxious heart. Watch Him work, observe as tiny miracles unfold before your eyes. Then be ready to trumpet those little reassurances to the highest peaks. It’ll be good for your own soul and lift the spirits of others.
Drawing spiritually near by serving others.
There’s a saying, “A candle shines brightest in a dimly lit room.” I’m writing this on April 1st, 2020. Our government has said that the next two weeks will be the hardest – since cases of the virus are projected to peak. It may be the darkest of modern times for our country. Bittersweetly, this affords us a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate love, joy, peace, patience, and every spiritual fruit. Offer the last package of Charmin to the mother whose cart is next to yours, taking care that the only infectious part of the encounter is your smile.
Covid cannot be communicated over the phone, but a caring attitude can. Make a list of the top five people you know or know of, who need encouragement today. People who will be shocked to hear your voice. Ask them how they’re making out, can you pick up anything. Lift them up with a quick prayer at the end of the call. You’ll have relieved them of their isolation if only for a moment. They’ll know we are Christians by our love.
Drawing near through nature.
It is no coincidence that the Lord allowed this pandemic to occur during the season of Spring in our country. As man’s economy grinds to a halt, God’s creation thrives. No federal agency can slow it; no government body can regulate it. His plan is inexorable. His hands never cease demonstrating His glory. As for man, there’s currently no law against going out for a walk. Breath in freshly scented air, be in awe of the lifeless tree that explodes into colorful blossom. Draw near to God through nature. Revel in His creation. Acknowledge His power to make all things new.
According to Ephesians 2:10, the Father created us in Christ Jesus that we might walk in the good works that He created beforehand. The inspiring truth is that while bringing the pandemic to the world, God brings us to the pandemic. We were wrought for such a time as this by the knowledge that we indeed have the virus. We’ve always had it. Now our task is to rejoice not only in test kits and masks, but in Him who is our ultimate hope, the final cure.
James 4: 8 says to “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts”. Disinfectant lies not in sprays or wipes, but in the purifying blood of the one who died and rose again on our behalf. Commit then to Social distancing between ourselves and our fellow human beings because it is necessary for a time. But fill the void with an ever-tightening proximity to God which is more than comfort. It is life itself. Draw near therefore, spiritually near, nearer than you have ever been, never to distance yourself again.
© Heroes of the Cross