“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8. I think this is often one of those verses that we like to quote when people ask how they can experience more of God in their lives. It’s one of those “nice” verses that seem easy to do. It also seems easy – draw near to God – in other words go and spend time with Him. Do we know what this really means? Do we even know what this really looks like if we were to go and do it? I’m not sure if we do, especially as we become more of an “instant gratification” group of people.
If we want to see/experience God in our lives more we need to seek Him every day; and by seek I mean really seek him out. When you seek something or someone, you attempt to find it or them. We need to spend time attempting to find God. When I look for something I don’t stop looking for it because I get bored or because I can’t find it in the first few minutes of looking, I keep looking until I find it. I also don’t look once – I look a couple of times, especially when I really want it. This is how it should be when we’re seeking God. We need to seek him more than just once. I can also promise you that when you do seek him you will find him – he will come and meet with you.
One of the ways that I seek God is that I go off somewhere and chat with him – this happens mostly on my bed. This is a place where there are no distractions – a space where I know it can just be me and God. In the bible it tells us that Jesus also did this. In Mark 1:35 it says “very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” He draws away from people to speak to God.
Another thing that I’ve learnt from the bible with regards to finding God and experiencing him is that we need to go the distance to find him. We need to keep looking for him until we find him. When people started to realise that Jesus was the son of God they traveled for days to get to him. It wasn’t as easy as today where we can meet with him where ever we are because we have the Holy Spirit. People actually had to go and find him and they were willing to travel for days – often on foot and then they would just sit at his feet to listen to him. Imagine if the guy who got lowered through the roof by his friends to be healed by Jesus, (Luke 5:17-39) gave up half way there because it was taking too long to find Jesus. He would never have had a chance to meet with Jesus. If we think about how all those people came to listen to Jesus in the five loaves story. They came from faraway places just to listen to Jesus. The fact that they travelled for days to find Jesus challenges me to spend more time looking for God instead of giving up after five minutes because he’s being quiet or it seems like he’s not there or able to be found. It challenges me to put in a little bit more effort that just sitting on my bed asking God to answer me – I should use all the resources he gives me to find him. I also think that if we give up to soon in seeking Jesus we could miss out on such an amazing experience with him. Well…every time we go and meet with him it’s amazing, but just imagine what it would be like if we just gave up because God wasn’t showing up in the way we want him to or expect him to in the five minutes we give him.
How do I find him?
Besides the obvious – praying and waiting for him to speak to me. I spend time reading his word, (the bible). The bible teaches us about whom God is – revealing his character to us. This helps us understand who he is and how he works. It’s also a tool that God uses to speak to us. The words in the bible are very much alive – God uses them to remind us of how he is faithful, how much he loves us etc. We can also ask God to reveal himself to us in a way that we’ll understand through a word or picture. God knows how I’m wired so he also knows how to speak straight to my heart. I often find I only understand the picture or message once I have been diving into scripture because it helps me know if it’s in line with who God is. Another way I find Jesus is through worship – praise – giving thanks, acknowledging who he is and then just soaking in him.
One thing I know for certain is that when we really seek him, like the people in the bible did we will find him. God isn’t the God of “instant gratification” he’s the God of relationship. If we spend the time seeking him out we’ll be able to build a relationship with him, one that is built on truth and not just quick fixes found in the “let me ask God for a quick answer now”. I think God wants us to seek him out because then we’ll get to know more about who he is in the long run. He wants us to come and sit at his feet and listen to him like the people in the bible used to do. How long would we linger in God’s presence if he was the God of “instant gratification”? I don’t think we would spend much time with him at all.