I feel closest to God when my life is a catastrophe. While I long for more peaceful times during a crisis, for an immediate end to the struggle, I yearn to experience God’s close, caring presence that seems nearest to me during a catastrophe. It’s like a spiritual Catch-22. It doesn’t seem I can have the nearness without the catastrophe.
James begs to differ.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. – James 4:8a
“This isn’t a God-thing. This is a human-thing,” James says.
When life is easy, I take the driver’s seat. I’m as happy is Dorothy Levitt (pictured above) behind the wheel. Before long, however, I get distracted. At best, I veer off the narrow road. At worst, I crash. Severed steering wheel in hand, I stagger back into His presence, dazed and confused. I draw near to Him more like an accident victim seeking a medic than a child drawn to her loving Father.
With James’ perspective, I can see that it isn’t the catastrophe that brings God’s Presence to me. The catastrophe brings me back into God’s Presence.
PONDER: When do you feel closest to God? What changes would allow you to experience that closeness all of the time?
PRAYER: Father, please forgive me for taking the driver’s seat in my life. I want to give You back Your rightful place behind the wheel. I want to snuggle up next to you on the front seat. Help me to learn to draw near to Your Presence more often in the peaceful times during my journey of life.
My grandfather died when I was in elementary school. My remaining three grandparents followed suit over the next twenty years. My father died on my 23rd birthday. My mother died a few years ago. Within seven months of one another, my husband’s grandparents died (separately) and my second-born son, Jude, died. After my son’s death, we grieved with three separate families at church who also buried their children. Loss has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. The fear of loss has been around just as long. It would be accurate to say that I have held those I loved in a death grip most of my life, always fearing the worst-case scenario would be the one that played out. Two years ago, when I read . . .
For I am the Lord your God, the One Who takes hold of your right hand, Who says to you, “Don’t be afraid, I am helping you.” Isaiah 41:13
. . . it was like God reached over to place His giant, gentle hand on my two clinched fists, and said, “It’s okay. You can let go now. You don’t have to be afraid because I am here. I am helping you.”
PONDER: What are your hands holding, clinched in a death grip? Do you trust God enough to let go?
PRAYER: Father, please help me to loosen my grip on these things that I hold dear. Help me to notice when I begin to clinch my fists, holding tightly to anything other than Your hand. Thank You for wanting to help me learn to trust you more fully, with everything.
Death Grip is one of thirty devotionals I’ve written as part of a friend’s devotional project. You can read more short devotionals like this by clicking here or the Devotionals tab at the top of this page.