If it doesn't count for Christ, it doesn't count.

Friday, January 07, 2011

love close up!

Our church is joining together to read all the way through the Bible this year.  I will admit that I haven't attempted this since I was saved in November of 2007.  All of my Bible study since then, though, has been so rich as God is now able to show me things in His Word that I just could not see before as one who was lost and blind.  So "reading through the Bible" has become so much more than just reading the Bible. If we pay attention to what we are reading there is so much to be learned, so much that tells us who we are and who we are intended to be.  I hope you don't mind me sharing that with you from time to time, as I realize I am often talking about things you already know.

Reading the lineage of Adam to Noah and his sons, we are reminded of how difficult life was in those days.  God told that apple-eater, Adam, just how things would be.

Genesis 3:17-19 (NIV) To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you,and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” 

Generations later, Noah's father, Lamech, lamented about how difficult life was on God's cursed ground. (Yeah, I looked, but I couldn't find where the word "lament" came from "Lamech". But still . . .)
Genesis 5:28-29 (NIV) When Lamech had lived 182 years, he had a son.  He named him Noah and said, “He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the LORD has cursed.”

So God said life was going to be hard and Lamech certainly felt the effects of it.  And because the ground was cursed it was going to be hard for everyone all the days of their lives. But, between Adam and Noah, one man had been relieved of the hardships of life in a world turned upside down by sin. His name was Enoch.  A mere 4 verses of scripture tell us about Enoch. We would like to know more. But, in this brief passage that tells us so little of the man, Enoch, perhaps we learn all we need to know about ourselves.

(Now, Enoch is mentioned in Hebrews, and he is quoted in Jude.  The quotation probably came from his own writings, otherwise known as "the Book of Enoch". Enoch's writings are not included in our Bible, and I can only conclude that they were not found to be the divinely inspired Word of God.  It is interesting reading, however, and as far as I can tell, the Book of Enoch speaks to his close walk with God.)

Genesis 5:21-24 (NIV)

 When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah.  After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters.  Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years.  Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.

BibleGateway.com lists 23 translations of the Bible into the English language. Enoch's walk with God in these various translations is described as "faithfully, steadily, in habitual fellowship, in close fellowship, with, and habitually with God".  Most translations simply say that Enoch "walked with God".  And, "then he was no more", because God simply took him away into Heaven!  Enoch was so close to God that God took him into Heaven at the  young age, in those days, of 365 years old.  Enoch no longer had to toil painfully for life and he was spared the experience of physical death.  From dust he came, but he was not required to return to dust.  Enoch's fellowship with God brought him such favor and mercy that he was spared God's edict upon all mankind and blessed with an entrance into Heaven that only 1 other person throughout history, so far, has experienced. God loves being with Enoch!

So, what is revealed in Enoch's short story that tells us everything we need to know about ourselves?  God loves us.  We all pretty much know that. But, He wants to love us close up!. He wants to be right here with us in our journey through this life. And if He seems distant, it is not because He is the one putting space between us. It is because we are not consistently inviting and allowing Him into our lives in an intimate way. 

There is a song called "I Love Your Presence".  (uh-oh, I feel another video coming on!)  And I do love His presence at those times that I feel Him near me. But, I need - we all need - to understand that, in much the same sense, God loves my presence! He loves your presence! He wants to be with us a-l-l-l-l-l the time for all of our time here on Earth and throughout eternity. And in His desire to be with us, He made a way for that very thing to happen. In His son, Jesus, He died to make it so. And, He did such a wonderful job of it that it is not merely a matter of Him being with us, as in beside us, He now abides in those of us who have simply accepted what Jesus did there on the cross. 

So, for Christians, it is not that God leaves us or we leave Him or kick Him out or anything of that sort. He has promised that He will never leave us. This means that He is with us at all times. If we are out of fellowship with God for any period of time it is simply because we are ignoring Him!  So often He is talking but we are just not listening, and at times we must confess that, for some really stupid reason, we just don't want to hear.

We sing another song, "Draw Me Close To You" (nope, I probably won't post a video of that one).  I'm thinking I need to turn that around and I need to do the drawing. I need to draw nearer to God, because I'm the one who creates the distance between us.

Whether it is faithful, steady, habitual, close, or simply with, God seeks continual fellowship with us. We are not going to have that kind of fulfilling relationship with Him - fulfilling to us or Him - if we find ourselves forgetful of Him, or if we are going places and doing things where we have to leave Him outside, or in the car, or in the other room.  Jesus gave it all, He paid it all, so we can have it all.  He did this so that he can always be with us. So why do we consciously do things where we have to leave Him out?

Maybe for us the key is not so much WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) as it is WWJ (Walking With Jesus).  After all, if we are walking with Jesus, we don't have to wonder what Jesus would do. He's right there to tell us!

"Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away."  I am convinced that Enoch's relationship with God is not being held up to us as something unattainable.  Quite the opposite, we each have God's own personal relationship with us.  And the depth of our relationship can, and should, match that of Enoch. We need to know that Enoch didn't create the relationship. God did!  Enoch's was a faithful, steady, habitual, and close, relationship with God. And we have it better than Enoch!  Because the Holy Spirit inhabits the saved, not one of those descriptive words is beyond our ability as God builds His relationship with us. 

So be encouraged. God loves you like He loves Enoch. If you want that kind of relationship all I can say is "Go with God."