Last fall, my daily Bible reading brought me to Jeremiah 30:21. The second half of it had long been a life-verse for me: “For who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?”
At God’s question, once again my spiritual hand shot up, “Me! Me! Who wants to devote themselves to being close to You? Me, that’s who!”
But how was I doing at that?
As I re-read the verse I realized that lately I’d been more devoted to praying for prodigals ~ to dealing with renewed health issues ~ to watching the waves of life swell ~ feeling the wind pick up ~ seeing the storm roll in.
Life has a way of blowing up tempests that command our attention, doesn’t it? So, about being devoted to being close to Him…
I’d been on storm watch instead.
There’s a song by Kyla Rowland that describes how, like biblical storms on the sea of Galilee, a tempest raged in her own life. Gale-force winds shrieked and thundered, and waves threatened… until Jesus walked out on the waters of her world and raised His hand:
Then the waves that were raging were suddenly calm,
When He stepped
Me and the storm.
Could that happen for me, too? Could God draw nearer to me than the storms of my life? Could I live closer to Him than to the things that were trying to command my attention? When I prayed, could I focus less on the need or the person I was praying for and more on God Himself? On Who He is, what He’s like, what He can do and wants to do?
God spoke to me that morning: it was time to schedule another personal retreat, to take a few days away to get alone with God and re-tune my heart and re-adjust my priorities, until God was once again nearer than my physical symptoms, my outward circumstances, and life’s unsettling developments. Until I became more aware of Him than anything else.
As I dig into the Word, I’m finding over and over that God’s chosen place is between His people and their problems.
He appeared in a pillar of cloud, standing protectively between the armies of Egypt and the children of Israel camped before the Red Sea. (Exodus 14:20) He was the Psalmist’s shield (Psalms 3:1-3) and the “mountains” surrounding His people. (Ps. 125:2) David declared, “You both precede and follow me, and place your hand of blessing on my head…” (Ps. 139:5 TLB), much like believers today are cocooned “in Christ”.
(1 John 4:15)
And what a powerful God-between promise Paul shares:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7, emphasis added)
If we pray instead of worry, God’s peace will guard our hearts.
The word “guard” used here by Paul, as Chuck Swindoll explains in Laugh Again, is
“a military term for ‘marching sentry duty’ around something valuable and/or strategic.
As we rest our case, as we transfer our trouble to God, ‘Corporal Peace’ is appointed the duty of marching as a silent sentry around our minds and our emotions, calming us within.”
How’s that for God between?
Living like this, I’m interceding for others with my focus on the One who moves mountains, not the prodigal who’s digging in his heels. I’m looking to the Lord of my body, mind, and soul, not to the physicians or the test results or the prognosis.
Such God-awareness doesn’t come automatically or instantly, but as it grows through grace and perseverance, my faith increases. My soul lifts. My hopes swell.
Recently, as new storm clouds (black with fear) threatened, the Lord re-reminded me: “Keep Me between you and everyone and everything in this situation. Between you and the storm. Nearer than any of it.” Obedience brought me space to breathe again, a renewed perspective, surrender, and peace.
Do any storms threaten you? Do you, too, want to learn to live the God-Between life?
Do you hear Him asking, “Where is she who will devote herself to be close to me?”
Is your hand up?