Drawing Nearer to God
After beholding the goodness of God, the power of His right hand, and the wisdom of His council, the psalm-writer’s soul was so enraptured and ravished with love that he exclaimed, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.” (Psalm 73:25) His whole heart and soul was turned toward God. The world lay behind him. He was looking upward, and as he caught a deeper vision of heaven’s glories and the greatness and the goodness of God, he exclaimed in eagerness, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.” (Psalm 42:1) The same passion filled the breast of that intensely-devoted man of God, Paul, when he said, “I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better.” (Philippians 1:23)
God is unchangeable in His nature. The attributes of God are as beauteous in perfection now as they were then. The several glories of God are as radiant and the love and blessings of heaven as full of sweetness now as they were then. The nature of the soul has not changed. The love of God and the beauty of his perfections will enrapture the soul now as it did when David said, “My soul followeth hard after thee,” (Psalm 63:8) and when Paul said, “For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven.” (2 Corinthians 5:2) The breathings of the soul of every true saint is, “Nearer, my God, to Thee.”* Ofttimes the desire for God is so great that they long to go to Him and satisfy their soul in His presence. Those who have no desire to get nearer Him are indeed very far from Him. Those who are nearest Him have the greatest desire to get nearer. The words of a holy man of God is the language of every devoted heart.
“Oh, sweet is my walk with Jesus!
How gently He smiles on me!
Yet nearer my Lord so precious—
Oh, help me to walk with Thee!”*
Another poet breathed forth the longings of every soul filled with heaven’s love: “Oh, for a closer walk with God!”
He who has tasted the love of God desires to have deeper tastes of that love. He who has heard the gentle voice telling the sweet redemption story desires to hear it over and over. He who has felt the touch of the Spirit of God upon his soul desires to feel that touch more sensibly. He who has seen the beauty of the Lord desires to dwell in His presence that he may see more of that beauty.
The pleasures of earth have no attraction for the soul embraced in sweet communion with God. He who has tasted heaven’s pure love turns not to the world for enjoyment. He seeks not the company of the worldly-minded. He enjoys not so much the talking about the vulgar things of the world as he does the conversing about the goodness of the Lord. He is looking above to get clearer visions of God. As the little flower instinctively opens to receive the falling dew, so his heart is open to catch the blessings as they fall from the censers swinging around the throne of God. His soul is listening to catch every strain of heavenly music, and in his heart he would that he could draw a little nearer, so that he might hear it more distinctly. There is so much clamor and confusion in the world that he longs to be lifted higher above it, in order that he might hear more of heaven. Oh, that the veil of mortality might be lifted, so that he might see the grandeur of the celestial fields! As the bee goes from flower to flower, sipping their sweetness; so the soul ravished with the love of God, goes from one divine attribute of perfection to another and from one glory and grace to another, gathering material for building and garnishing the temple of God in the heart.
If we draw near to God He will draw near to us. As we stand before a mirror, our image is pictured just as far in the background as we are distant from the mirror. As we approach the mirror, our image comes toward the front. Then we can see the features more distinctly. God is just as far from us as we are from Him. As we come nearer to Him He will come nearer to us. Bless His name! The nearer we come to Him, the more distinctly can we see the perfection of His character. Therefore the nearer we draw to God, the deeper conception will we have of His holiness. We are made to exclaim as we draw nearer, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” (Isaiah 6:3) We see greater purity in God’s work. Oh, how our souls stand in awe and wonder before the perfection of God’s works! As we look upon the sun, moon, and stars, and take a survey of the universe as far as the mind and the vision can carry us, we say, “In purity and wisdom has He created them all.”
As we get nearer to God, we see more clearly the purity of His word. We exclaim with that admirer of God’s law, “Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.” (Psalm 119:140) Oh, what purity and beauty we see in such expressions as these! “Bear ye one another’s burdens.” (Galatians 6:2) “In lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Philippians 2:3) “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” (Luke 6:31) The nearer we get to God, the greater beauty we see in these plain, simple words, and the more we love. How wondrously pure they are! How sweet the life in which they are fulfilled! How our souls reach out to receive these beautiful words! Our hearts feed upon them with a sweet relish. They delight our souls. How dear is the Bible to the heart of those who walk with God! And the closer they walk, the dearer is this precious book.
Drawing nearer to God includes getting a deeper consciousness of our own nothingness. The Lord recently helped me to feel my helplessness, insomuch that I saw I was helpless to realize my helplessness unless God helped me by His Spirit to realize it. The nearer we get to God, the more clearly we see His greatness and the smaller we become. Oh, how infinitely little! We simply sink into insignificance. We make such a tiny speck on the scroll of creation that we can hardly be found with the most powerful magnifying glass. A mere weak worm. Just one light stroke from the hand of God and we are blotted out. The very greatest man that ever lived is utterly nothing. Oh, shame on the poor mortal that thinks himself something! When we see God in His greatness, we see ourselves less than the least.
As you get nearer God, you get into greater light. You see more clearly what true holiness is; you better understand the nature of his beauteous grace. If you would know whether there are any imperfections in your heart and life, draw near to God, and you will make the discovery. Maybe there are some idle or hasty words in your general conversation, and you are not aware of it. Maybe some article of dress tells you of pride in your heart, and you do not see it. Maybe you have too much thought for the world and do not know it. Maybe you have acted from a selfish motive and are not conscious of it. If you will draw near to God and examine yourself in the light of His holiness you will be able to see these blemishes. You examine a piece of cloth in a dimly-lighted room and think it perfect, and you are surprised to find so many defects in it when examined in the clear light of the sun.
Drawing nearer to God implies getting a better understanding of the relationship that exists between God and His children. You might be told of the closeness of this relationship and of God’s love to you, but you will never understand it until you get near to God. If God’s children only knew, could only comprehend, the yearning love God has for them, they would never have a fear, and, oh, how carefully they would walk before Him, lest they wound that love! The nearer you get to God, the better you will understand this. Just recently God gave me such a vision of His love as almost overwhelmed me. I could not feel more of the power of God’s love and live. See how He feeds the fowls of the air and clothes the lily of the field, and now hear Him say to you, “My child, you are much more to Me than they.” If you understand what this means, it will take all fear and distrust out of your life. You will take no thought for the morrow. You will not have a care. You will be wholly free from fret and worry. God is real, and you will understand Him so as you get nearer to Him.
Drawing nearer to God is getting a deeper work of grace in the heart. The character of God will be imaged in our souls just as we see it to be in Him. If you have but a faint conception of God’s holiness, His holiness will be but faintly imaged in your soul. The same is true of all the graces. Just as you see them in God, so you will bear their image in your heart. As when standing far away from a mirror, you cannot see your features so plainly as when you get nearer; so when far away from God, you cannot see His attributes so plainly as when you draw near. Oh, how beautiful are the perfections of God! They captivate my soul. I stand and look upon His lowliness, His meekness, His gentleness, His long-suffering, His mercy, and His love, and, oh, how my soul does desire Him!
Proud world, my soul to you has said adieu,
For there is no room in my heart for you;
Your charms may gratify some other mind,
But all my spirit seeks, in God I find.
I answer not, proud world, thy beck or call;
My heart is fixed—to me my God is all.