A NEW SONG by Jan Karon (as told by Father Tim)
It always hurt him to see the damage and confusion and too often the utter desperation of those forced to go it alone. In short, it was a hard road to hoe and fraught with unique assaults by the enemy.
“When trees and power lines crashed around you, when the very roof gave way above you, when light turned to darkness and water turned to dust, did you call on Him? When you called on Him was He somewhere up there or was He as near as your very breath?
What some believers still can’t believe is that it is God’s passion to be as near to us as our very breath. I pray for each one of you to sense God’s presence as near as your breath. In short, it has been my prayer since we came here for you to have a one on one daily personal relationship with Christ. I’m talking about something that goes beyond any Sunday service ever created or ever to be created….something that you can depend on for the rest of your life and then forever.
I’m talking about the times you cry out in the storms that prevail against you – times when your heart and your flesh fail and you see no way out and no way in – when any prayer you utter to a God you may view as distant and disinterested seems to vanish into thin air. There are legions who believe in an existence of a cold and distance God and on the occasions when they cry out to Him in utter despair and hear nothing in reply must get up and stumble on alone.
Then there are those who know Him personally – who have found that when they cry out, there He is as near as their breath – one on one, heart to heart, Savior, Lord, Partner, Friend. Some have been in church all their lives and have never known this mighty, marvelous, and yet, simple personal relationship.
Others believe that while this relationship might be possible, it’s not for them. Why would God want to bother with them except from a very great distance. In reality, it is no bother to God at all. He wants this relationship far more than you and I want it and I pray that you will ponder that marvelous truth.
But who among us would ever deserve to have such a wondrous and altogether unimaginable thing as a close, personal, day to day relationship with Almighty God – Creator of the Universe? It seems unthinkable! And, so, we are afraid to think it.
For this fragile time in history, this tender and fleeting moment in our lives, I am your priest. God has called me to lead this flock. As I look out this morning, my heart has a wish list for you. On and on there are fervent desires upon my heart for you, but chief among the hopes, the prayers, the petitions is this: ‘Lord, let my people KNOW. Let them know that the unthinkable is not only real, but available and possible and can be entered into now today though we are, indeed, completely undeserving.’
It can be entered into today with only a simple prayer that some think not sophisticated enough to bring them into the presence of God. Not fancy enough to turn His face to theirs. Not long enough, not high enough, not deep enough. Yet, this simple prayer makes it possible to know Him not only as Savior and Lord, but as a friend. “No longer do I call you servants,” He said to His followers in the Gospel of John, “but friends.”
In the storms of your life do you long for the consolation of His nearness and His friendship? You can’t imagine how He longs for the consolation of yours! It is unimaginable, isn’t it, that He would want to be near us frail as we are, weak as we are and hopeless as we so often feel. God wants to be WITH US. That, in fact, is His name – Emmanuel – GOD WITH US.
And why is that so hard to imagine when, indeed, He made us for Himself? The One who made us, made us for Himself! We’re reminded in the book of Revelation that He created all things for His pleasure. Many of us believe that He created all things, but we forget the very best part – that He created us for His pleasure!
There are some of you who want to be done with seeking Him once a week and crave, instead, to be with Him day after day telling Him everything – letting it all hang out – just thankful to have such a blessing in your life, such a friend who will never UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES leave you and NEVER remove His love from you. Amazing? Yes, it is! It IS amazing!
God knows who is longing to utter that simple prayer this morning. It is a matter between you and Him and it is a prayer which will usher you into His presence – into life everlasting and into the intimacy of a friendship in which He is as near as your breath.
Here’s the way this wondrous prayer works. As you ask Him into your heart. He receives you into His – the heart of God. What a place to be! To reside for all eternity!
Sense….feel God’s presence. Silently repeat this simple prayer:
Thank you, God, for loving me and for sending Your Son to die for my sins. I sincerely repent of my sins and receive Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. Now as Your child, I turn my entire life over to You. Amen.”