Beliefnet
Leaving Salem

An old man and an old woman, who had been married for many years, were driving to church one Sunday morning. They fell in behind another car being driven by a young man. He was of college age or younger. Sitting beside the young man was a young woman, obviously his girlfriend.

In fact, she was sitting so close to him that a credit card could not have been slipped between them. She was almost sitting in his lap, her head resting on his shoulder.

The old woman grew nostalgic. She began to think of her and her husband’s younger years when they were so in love with each other. They used to drive up and down the strip of their home town every Friday night just like the young couple now in front of them.

She turned to her husband sitting behind the steering wheel on the other side of the front seat. Accusingly, almost bitterly, she said, “Look at them. Look at how they love each other. Why don’t we drive through town like that any more? Why don’t we sit that close together like we used to?”

She was met with silence. Her husband said not a word. After a few minutes the old man looked over at his wife and said, “I haven’t moved.”

God sometimes seems so far away, doesn’t he?  At times we think he’s playing hide-and-seek at worst or peek-a-boo at best. But he’s not. He’s there, right where he has always been. He hasn’t moved.

The Bible tells us to “Draw near to God.” Draw near the immovable, always present, always graceful God. And when we do that, he will draw near to us. Scoot across the seat. Take a step toward him – even a halting, feeble step – and he will come running to you.

Most Christians live under this idea that God secretly dislikes us. He’s the cosmic traffic cop maintaining the mother of all speed traps, itching to write a ticket and meet his quota of the condemned.

There he is in our rearview mirror. Our palms sweat. Our body tightens. We drive through life terrified that the smirking, mirror-lensed God is about to turn on the blue lights. Surely he’s out to get us.

Yet, God is not after you. What do you think the cross was all about? Why was God hanging on that piece of wood? The cross means that sin’s back has been broken. We have been set free from fear and dread, and given a worth that exceeds the wealth and creation of the world. The cross, if it means anything at all, means we are welcomed into God’s loving arms.

My children sometimes drive me absolutely insane. I’m talking bonkers; Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde; Bruce Banner to the Incredible Hulk kind of insane. I lose my cool. I rant and rave. I lose patience; all those things that parents regrettably do.

I want my children to obey me. I want them to respect me and honor me as their father. But I do not want my children to be afraid of me. I don’t want them to feel that they must keep their distance, or that I’m out to get them.

Even when they are on my do-do list, I want them to come in, sit in my lap and talk to me. I want them to feel welcome. And they are. Why? Because they are my children.

I want them to draw near, even more so when things are not going as good as they should be. How much more with our heavenly father?

Draw near to God. Through prayer and stillness, crawl into his lap and listen. Cry out with your frustrations, your fears, and your anger. He can take it. He welcomes it. Get quiet long enough to experience his embrace, his love.

Look at that cross and realize that he has given you the greatest thing he ever could, and he loves you with a love that is so high, so long, so deep and so wide that all of eternity will not be enough time to comprehend it. The traffic cop God should be avoided, but not the God revealed to us in Jesus the Christ. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.

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