The elusive quality of God's nearness
Our church is going through Bible for Life this fall in preparation for reading through the Bible together next year. It's a great curriculum which is ideal for those who have never been taught how to read the Bible and are interested in discovering how it applies to their life on a daily basis.
One of the daily assignments in week 2 had us read Psalm 32. Here's a verse that stopped me in my tracks for several moments (and now days) of reflection and worship:
"Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to You at a time when You may be found." (Psalm 32.6)
The phrase when you may be found is the one that caused pause. Christians grow intensely uncomfortable with the idea of God not being available for them. We treat the Almighty like we treat our technology. We want Him available, operable and understandable. We want God to be in our pocket. We want Him controllable. We want Him to entertain us. God is our iPhone 5. He exists for us.
Yet this verse jolts us. "When you may be found?" It hints that God's nearness may be elusive and that our expectations of Him may not be realistic. He will not be used. We are the creatures, not Him.
Abundant evidence in the Bible cries out to us that God is not fickle in His faithfulness but He may be strategic in His nearness. While He promises to be with us, our awareness of His nearness is like a bad antenna. We know there's a broadcast, but all we're getting is static. God is beautifully adept at concealing Himself from us. You may have experienced His hiddenness and after getting over the shock of it, realized that His hiddenness actually magnifies the wonder of His nearness.
After a season in God's hiddenness, the dawn of His nearness is no less majestic than a sunrise at sea.
Psalm 32.6 advises us to pray now. To seek now. There may come a time when God hides Himself from you. Don't wait too long to come clean with the Father.
His nearness is both a promise and a gift, but it is not an entitlement. As a gift, it is more like a pan of fresh-baked cookies to be enjoyed in the moment while hot than it is like a bicycle received at Christmas to be used at our pleasure but garaged during long portions of our lives.