“But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God that I many declare all thy works.”
I sat at the counter listening to my friend share her heart. Kids ran around at our feet, the smell of baking still lingered in the air (she made banana bread… I know!), and we simply sat at her kitchen counter and talked. She spoke with the sort of open honesty that only comes from a heart that loves the Lord. A heart that has walked through valleys and over mountain tops and been led through it all by the hand of her savior. It was encouraging and inspiring. It was beautiful.
In the midst of our conversation, she said something that has been lingering in my mind ever sense. She said that years ago, in the midst of a time of transition and change, her and her husband felt like the Lord spoke to their hearts. He basically said to them, “draw near to me because where I am going to lead you is somewhere you have never been.”
Draw near. Pull in. Stay close.
Something about that resonated within me. Maybe it’s because things feel a bit unknown right now. Maybe it’s because so many things in my life are in a time of transition. Or perhaps it’s just the very idea, the reminder, to pull in close to the Lord. Whatever it is, perhaps all of the above, the Lord has been using that little thought to encourage my heart. You see I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know what the future holds, but He does. He’s been there. He knows the path, with all its pitfalls and twists, as well as all its magnificent views and breathtaking sights. He knows and he wants to lead the way.
The thing is, I know that God is in control. I know that he holds my days in his hands and that he has gone before me. I know those things, and yet it can be so hard to live like that in the midst of the day-to-day, especially when things are hard. I want a roadmap. I want a detailed, turn by turn, description of what’s up ahead. But he doesn’t give us that. He gives us something better. He gives us Himself.
In Psalm 73, the psalmist is struggling with questions, specifically, the question of why evil people prosper. He’s frustrated and confused and feels all alone. He feels forgotten. But then! Then he remembers that God is good. Listen to what he does next, “But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God…” Psalm 73:16-17a. He goes to God, he draws near, and seeks His presence.
I think it’s really interesting, and accurate, that he first tried to understand things on his own. He wanted answers and did what we all do, he tried to find them himself. He looked to his own understanding and experiences and knowledge. But he couldn’t find the answers he needed. He says trying that way was wearisome. It drained him of his energy and, I imagine, his joy. And I have been there.
So many times in my life I have been there, sitting in confusion, trying to understand what God is doing, trying to figure it out on my own rather than actually asking him. I observe my situation, I draw conclusions, I form opinions, I make predictions all with the hope of knowing what’s going on and where I’m headed. I talk to friends, read books, dwell on my situation, but I forget to do the only thing that matters. I forget to actually turn to God. I forget to draw near.
The psalmist learned something that God has been teaching me lately; that no matter how confusing things appear, he alone can guide us through this life because He alone knows what is up ahead. What’s more, he wants to guide us. He longs for us to pull close to him, to take his hand, and let him lead us on. It’s the lesson my friend and her husband learned. It’s the idea of drawing close.
The passage goes on and says, “Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory,” Psalm 73:23. The psalmist didn’t get all the answers he wanted. He didn’t get his long explanation or his road map. But he found something better, he found the Lord. He no longer needed detailed plans because he was with his savior and the Lord was guiding him every step of the way. Roadmaps only give instructions, God is offering to take us by the hand and lead us.
He drew near. And God is inviting us to do the same.
I need that. I need to know and believe in my heart that God is there, ready to lead the way. I need to do what the psalmist did and draw near, enter into his presence, and let him speak tender words to my heart. I want I map, but more than that, I want Him. And the beautiful thing is that God wants that for me too.
There are so many things that I don’t understand right now. So many things that are unsettling or even scary. But I am being reminded that God is my rock, my safety, and my guide. I don’t know where this path is leading, but he does so I will draw near to him. I will hold his hand, I will step where he steps, and I will follow him into the future.