Okay, I’ve got to ask…have you changed your address lately? I’m not talking about your street address but your spiritual state. How close do you live to God? The Bible says if we come near to God, He will come near to us. A daunting question in Isaiah challenged me several years ago. “Who is he who will devote himself to be close to Me?” I found myself waving my hand like a school girl with the right answer, “It’s me, Lord, it’s me!”
How much energy we expend to establish and maintain close proximity to our King is really up to us We can stand at a distance in the “outer courts,” just so we get close enough to retain the benefits of knowing God, yet we may fail to get near enough to hear His heartbeat. In the Old Testament, the meaning of “worship” was lowering one’s body to the ground to pay honor or reverence. People stayed at a safe distance from a God they knew only through ordinances, warnings and penalties. After Jesus brought in the New Covenant, “worship” was defined as getting close enough to kiss, like a dog licks his master’s hand. Kind of puts it in perspective, doesn’t it? We can bow at a safe distance in the same way today, but kissing requires very close contact. That place of intimacy and communion is where I am determined to live. We choose whether we’ll live, move and have our being in Him …or in places of more appealing fleshly pursuits. Is God asking you to change your address?
For some reason, the Lord allowed me to live in the same home for long periods of time. The house where I was born in Chicago was my residence until I graduated from high school. I still dream about that little bungalow on the south side of Chicago where I could reach out my window and touch the house next door. Its surroundings were a huge part of my life growing up in the windy city. After moving to Indianapolis as a young married couple, my husband and I purchased our present home which has housed our family for over thirty years. There are certain places within these walls that catapult me back to the days of crying babies and active toddlers; homework and birthday parties; milestones, heartaches and victories. This place is filled with memories. “Sameness” seems to define me. No moving around the country; no transferring schools; no church hopping. Such a lifestyle provided incredible security and stableness for me. Today, it also makes me wretch at the thought of moving or changing my address. Change is hard for me. Call it what you will; I’m addicted to sameness and would love to stay right where I am forever. Why my husband longs for a condo is beyond me!
In the same way, we can resist moving into spiritual maturity or new places of ministry. We camp in comfortable places because growth and change are usually painful. We resist being yanked out of our comfort zone and cast into new waters. Our spiritual ruts bring an odd kind of security. We want our ticket to heaven, but won’t abandon ourselves to Him and His plans for fear of worse trials and tribulations. Sometimes we resist because our fond memories of the past cover up the pain of bondage that we once knew. We find ourselves longing for the former life that really wasn’t all that great if we’re honest with ourselves. God wants us to move with Him.
It’s absurd thinking that Israel longed to go back to the bondage of their former life when freedom in the Promised Land was a nearby reality. A land full of opportunity…yet they were hesitant about making the change. I wonder if Israel would have crossed over to the Promised Land if the enemy hadn’t been chasing them. They would have rather lived in the place they’d always known and complain bitterly, rather than moving on to the good places He’d marked out for them. They resisted until the enemy’s pursuit gave them no choice but to move. In the next few articles, we’ll examine some places people in the Bible chose to live to give us examples of our own spiritual state. Camping in states of bitterness, unbelief and self-pity will get us nowhere. Ask the Lord if He wants you to move to a new address…I know He’ll help you pack.