The Christmas season is a powerful and unique time of year to remember that Jesus came to make a way for us to be near God. In his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus built a bridge between us and God allowing us to have continual, unhindered communion with our Creator. But God can’t force us into nearness with him. Even as believers filled with the Holy Spirit, we can choose to live as if God is still far off. So this Christmas season, may we choose to open our hearts to the living God that we might experience fullness of joy in his loving presence.
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” JAMES 4:8
This Close | Steffany Gretzinger
James 4:8 contains a profound promise of God. Scripture says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” For a while I thought this verse seemed backwards. Doesn’t God do the drawing? Isn’t God the one who’s constantly pursuing us?
After diving deeper into the meaning of James 4:8 I discovered an important truth that’s foundational to living in communion with God: the door of God’s heart is always open to us. His love is always for us. His presence is always available. The Father turned away from Jesus as ours sins rested squarely on his shoulders ensuring he would never have to turn away from us.
To draw near to God is to simply open our hearts to what was always available. It’s not that God ever withholds his presence from us. It’s that he never forces us to abide in him. If we want to go our own way, he willingly and patiently waits for us. And the moment that we turn our hearts back to him, he is there to fill us with a revelation of his loving nearness and unwavering devotion.
In his book, The Pursuit of God, A. W. Tozer describes two veils. The first veil was the veil between the Holy of Holies and the world that was torn at the death of Jesus, signifying the availability of God’s manifest presence to all. The second veil is the veil of our own hearts that’s our decision to tear by God’s grace.
Whether it’s the effects of sin and shame or a lack of understanding what’s available to us in Christ, all of us have the ability to veil places in our hearts. All of us can shield our beliefs about our identity, our possessions, or our relationships from the abiding presence of Jesus and live apart from communion with him. We all have the ability at any given moment to go our own way and miss out on abundant life.
But the truth is that the Christian life isn’t about our ability to abide in God perfectly, but about God’s grace to draw near to us in response to repentance. God has no expectation that we would live this life perfectly. He remembers our frame and knows we are dust (Psalm 103:14). What he desires from us is to allow the Holy Spirit to illuminate any parts of our lives that aren’t his that we would be quick to repent and enjoy his grace-filled presence once again. God is not angry with you for veiling your heart. He knows better than you do the reasons you aren’t letting him fully in. His heart is filled with the fullness of compassion for you that you might live to experience his grace rather than strive and condemn yourself for your imperfection.
Take time today to rend the veil of your own heart, draw near to God, and experience the glory of his manifest presence.
1. Meditate on God’s promise to draw near to you if you will draw near to him. Allow the truth of God’s word to fill you with faith to encounter God.
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” James 4:8
“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
2. What parts of your heart seem veiled today? Where are you going your own way? Where in your life are you not experiencing abundant life in God synonymous with communion with him?
3. Rend the veil over your own heart today and allow God to flood those places with his forgiveness and grace. Take time to allow him to fill you with a revelation of his love.
“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:19-20
May Hebrews 10:19-22 provide joy and hope to your heart as you seek to draw near to your heavenly Father:
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Extended Reading: Hebrews 10 or watch the Bible Project’s video on Hebrews.