Are you a PART or are you PRESENT?

“Let us DRAW NEAR to GOD!!”  Have you ever stopped and contemplated that incredible invitation and powerful command?  The book of Hebrews urges us to do this, the book of James instructs us to do this, and the book of Psalms describes this beckoning beautifully, and yet I wonder if we ever stop to meditate on and participate in this request.  Today I want to share with you a simple focus and give us an opportunity to ask ourselves one question.  Am I a PART or am I PRESENT

Recently my husband and I had a whole day off together; in fact the whole family was free for the weekend!  It was a glorious moment and we were all so excited.  As the morning began I noticed my husband was getting distracted by his phone and other outside demands.  Once I saw that he was not actually engaged with the family, I shared with him that he wasn’t WITH us.  He promptly replied, with his eyes locked on his phone, “I’m right here.  I’m with you guys.  I’m a part of the day.”  I gently placed my hand on his phone and lowered it down, away from his face, and said, “Yes, you are a PART of the family, you are a PART of the day, but you are not PRESENT with me!”  NO sooner had those words come out of my mouth than I realized how very often Christ could say that same thing to me!  Through all that He accomplished in His life, death and resurrection He has made it possible for us to come NEAR to Him!  We can now come into His very presence and spend time with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and yet so often we may be in HIs vicinity but we are not THERE WITH HIM.  We too are distracted, occupied, or even scared to be actually PRESENT with Christ!

I recently shared a testimony I heard from a local youth pastor and as he told his story of the moment God got a hold of his life, all I kept thinking about was this verse.  This man shared that as a young adult he had been asked to be a leader at a big youth camp.  He had agreed to do it because he couldn’t think of anything better to do.  He was just coming off a life of partying and running in every direction away from God.  While he was at this conference the speaker asked for anyone who felt God calling them into ministry to come forward.  Immediately this man felt a powerful tug on his heart, and he aggressively began to tell the Lord, “No!”  The speaker continued to invite people down to the front and this man continued his argument with God.  As time went on the preacher finally told everyone that he wasn’t moving on yet because there was someone specific God was calling out and he wasn’t yet up front.  He proceeded to tell everyone to clear away a small square space in front of him and he told them that this open space directly in front of him was where the person was supposed to be.  The pull became so strong to the young man that he finally agreed to go up front but he was only going to stand at the back of the group.  As other kids would fill that spot in front of the speaker, the speaker would gently but firmly say, “That’s awesome, but you are not the one, move on.”  The young man standing in the back continued to feel that pull and he began to talk to God saying, “I’m here!!  I’m a PART of the Group!  Isn’t that good enough?”  And he felt the Lord reply, “NO!  I want you to be PRESENT With ME!  I want you to Come NEAR to me!  I want you to stand right HERE with me!”  Finally he went and stood in that small open square and the speaker, who did not know him at all, simply said, “Now we can move on.”

This testimony gripped me for many reasons, but the most magnificent reason, was the fact that God WANTS US TO BE RIGHT HERE WITH HIM!!!  He does NOT want us hanging out at the back of a group.  It is not the most important thing to Him that we simply show up at church, or that we listen to a message in one ear and catch up on social media with our free hand.  He doesn’t want us hiding in the background or being content with knowing Him from afar!  He went to greater lengths that we could ever possibly know JUST TO BE WITH US!!!  We are invited, commanded, urged, and beckoned all throughout God’s Word to COME NEAR TO HIM!!!  To approach Him with confidence, faith, and a true heart!  To be in His presence, spending time knowing Him intimately!  In fact, John tells us THAT is ETERNAL LIFE!  I want to remind us of the incredible gift we have in this opportunity.  Let us NOT forget it or take it lightly!  He wants you to be RIGHT HERE with HIM!  He wants you to be EVER CLOSER, DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF HIM, and FOREVER FOUND IN HIM!  It is easy to be in the back, but love is drawing you in!  I want to encourage you today to be purposeful in setting aside time to be PRESENT with God.  Let us come NEAR to Him undistracted, unencumbered, and with absolute confidence.   Take some time today to assess if you are only a PART of the group or are you PRESENT with GOD?  He has an open space directly in front of Him set aside specifically for YOU!  Will you DRAW NEAR?

Scriptures to meditate on:  Hebrews 10:19-22, James 4:8, Psalm 65:4, Hebrews 4:8,

Ashley Possin