James 4:8 NRSV.
Draw near to God, and God will draw near to you.
I hear people say things like, “I found God!” My immediate response is “God is not the one who was lost.” I do usually keep that thought to myself, as snark is not always appreciated.
Also, I kind of know what they are talking about.
In my case, it wasn’t so much that I “found” God. Rather, I discovered that God was not who I thought God was. I had never stopped believing in God, or God’s omnipresence or omnipotence. I just refused to allow God into my heart. I refused to worship that God, or even hang out with people who believed in a God who was so hateful and angry that humans would be condemned to the flames because they worshipped differently or loved differently or enjoyed sexual relations or used birth control or . . . If God only loved people who worshipped perfectly and were perfectly obedient, and even then set tests to trap them into wrongdoing, then I wanted nothing to do with God.
With the help of some very loving people, I began to change my understanding of God. I began to tentatively reach out in God’s general direction. My heart began to expand to include this God I was beginning to trust. If I were to describe God’s role in that time in my life, I would have to liken it to the way one gently attracts a feral cat in the back yard, quietly waiting for it to try the food and come back for more, until it is willing to come sniff your fingers and eventually allow itself to be petted. I was like that cat, wanting to trust but not being entirely certain this God person was safe. It took time, but eventually I was willing to trust God with my life.
Draw near to God . . . just as that feral cat in my back yard slowly came closer to me, so did I slowly draw near to God. The closer I got the more I noticed that I could feel God’s presence around me. I no longer understood God’s omnipresence only as an intellectual exercise. Now I knew for sure that God is always where ever I was, always near, always watching as a shepherd watches the flock.
Holy God, today I know that you are close to me in every situation, and I am grateful for that. I thank you for allowing me to come to you, for your patience in waiting until I was ready, and for your loving care over my life even when I wasn’t willing to come to you. Through Jesus Christ, Amen.