I had the opportunity once to go and see and listen to one of my favorite authors. Afterward, he went to a gathering area along with the hundreds of others in attendance. Somehow, to my surprise, I ended up right next to him. There was a crowd circling around him, yet he was right there, facing me, so close, if I wanted, I could reach out and touch him. I knew if I called out to him, he would hear me. He was that close. I felt my heart pounding within me. The words in his books had been a companion to me. They had moved my heart and challenged my thinking. Now he was right there next to me. It left me speechless. Then In an instant, he turned and the crowd moved him in the opposite direction. I never spoke to him but I still remember that moment.
Proximity is so important. I wonder, have you ever thought about your proximity to God? When you think about God or praying to God, where is he? In the sky? Up in the heavens? Out in nature? In the church? Where is God?
A. W. Tozer wrote, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” Is God an angry judge? Is God a loving father? Is God personal or abstract? Is God near or far? Does He ever come close enough to you that your heart starts pounding? Does he ever come close enough to you that you know you could reach out and touch him?
Scholars tell us that God is immanent, ever sustaining the whole of creation. God is Omni-present: with us. The way that God is with us is hard to believe. He is personally present, in an ongoing, interactive relationship with us. The challenge is knowing it and being aware of it.
David talked about how we can experience the nearness of God. He says, “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” (Ps 16) He reassures us that God is not far away but as near as your right hand. He is close enough to hear us. He is close enough that we can reach out and touch him, so to speak. We can meet God and be with him.
It takes some effort. We have to set our minds on God. We have to want to be aware of Him. And when we do, David goes on to say that the nearness of God can bring us renewed confidence and contentment as we realize we are in His care.
When things are going well or when I am not sure how to think about things or what to do, I pray that God will be at my right hand. When a loved one asks for prayer or when my love for someone leads me to pray the best possible thing for them, I pray that God will be at their right hand; their joy and strength.
Whatever you do, wherever you go, whatever you face, if God is there with you, at your right hand, you can have a sense of reassurance and confidence. If God is there with us at our right hand, we will also find joy and strength. Another psalm explains it well: “The nearness of God is my good.” (Ps 73:28) It’s the thing that makes the difference.