Blog by Ps Sharon Kelly
I’ve been pondering what being closer to God means. As a believer and a pastor, I want to know that I am living a life that pleases God. My life and the way I live it could open someone up to God, or turn someone off God altogether. Obviously my prayer is that I ooze Jesus, but let’s face it – none of us is perfect and none of us get it right all the time.
True confession time – a few months ago I had an encounter with one of my neighbors that rocked me to my core. I love walking in my neighborhood and I don’t do it as often as I’d like. This day on my walk I saw a lovely women who has lived not far from us for many years. I would wave to her whenever I saw her, but it had been a while since I had spoken to her. When I enquired after her husband, because he was usually in the garden with her, I found out he had died – seven years ago! I think I must have gone white with shock. I responded saying something like “I’m so sorry – I didn’t know”. As we chatted my neighbor recalled, “Oh I remember you, you and your husband are those pastors from Wave Church.”
How had I become the kind of neighbor I was trying so hard not to be? Needless to say I have been working diligently to make my way back into this beautiful woman’s world. My very next encounter with her was standing at her front door with a gift and apologizing to her for being a bad neighbor.
“…Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, love your neighbor as yourself.”
Luke 10.27 NIV
This scripture continues to speak to me. May I never forget this encounter with my neighbor and may it never cease to “kick me up the pants” and make me uncomfortable enough to get out of my own world so that God can use me to connect with someone who needs Him.
We live in a world where distance is not the huge separator it used to be. I can now FaceTime my family in Australia whenever I want. It’s not the same as being there in person, but it sure beats a once a month phone call that you kept short because of the cost! It’s never been easier for us to stay in contact with friends and family. We have FaceTime, text, social media and any number of apps that make staying in touch free. But staying “in touch” is not enough. We were made for intimacy. Not sex – intimacy. Close personal relationships.
I don’t have all the answers and I make plenty of mistakes, but I do know life has plenty of challenges and none of us are exempt from hard times. Tough seasons are made easier by sticking close to God and having a friend you can talk to.
Sticking Close to God
Leaning into God during the hard times will make your hard times a lot easier. It may not make the hard days go away any faster, but it sure will give you peace in the midst of the storm. You have a choice – you can do it the hard way, or you can do it the better way, but you can’t stop challenges from coming.
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].”
Psalm 91:1 AMPC
A Friend to Talk to
Having a friend that won’t judge or betray you is better than finding gold. There is no substitute for God, but we were made for relationship and to negate friendships is like saying, “I don’t need anyone”, which is a whole lot of baloney. We need friends. Some of us are better at making friends than others, but that doesn’t excuse you from needing a friend in your life. The best way to find a friend that won’t judge or betray you, that will listen and be there for you – is to be that kind of friend to someone else. It takes time to make good friends, but good friends are worth the time investment.
“A friend loves at all times and a brother is always there to help at the bad times.”
Prov 17:17 EASY
In this age of smart phones, technology, online “friends” and followers, let’s keep choosing to connect with those who God has placed in our world. By connect I mean eye contact, a smile, a kind word, a phone call (or a text message), a word of encouragement, lunch or a coffee. Resist the urge to do everything electronically. Make an intentional effort to make human contact with one person today – it may mean the world to both of you!
I believe being closer to God means to know what God loves, to stay in close relationship with Him through prayer, reading my Bible and prayer, and to do what He asks me to do. Nothing speaks to this better that John 3:16…
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.”
John 3:16 GNT