James 4:8 “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
This morning as I reflect back over the scripture in I John I think about how my journey has been affected by a wounded spirit sometimes. For me, the hardest thing to overcome is the way this spirit keeps attempting to convince me that God cannot be trusted, and a vague sense that He is either rejecting me or is about to. I then begin the internal score-keeping to attempt to live a perfect life that he will surely accept, forgetting that his acceptance of me is not a reward for my performance, but because of the sacrifice of Jesus on my behalf and my trust in that sacrifice.
Over a period of about a year, God allowed 4 men who had spoken life into me to be taken from earth and into their eternal reward. Duane Miller was my first coach, someone who challenged and discipled me, held me accountable to truth. Al Overholt was like a father to me in my teen years, a man who welcomed me into his family with a true spirit of adoption. My brother David was not only the person I most enjoyed a round of golf with, but a man who understood me and blessed my journey as a husband, father, and pastor. Delynn Hoover, though younger then me, spoke much life into me and truly believed in the vision and call of God on my life as a pastor and encouraged me often.
I realized, as the grieving and sorrow over the death of these men that I loved continued to build, that I became increasingly distant from God, finding it hard to really trust him. I think I interpreted these losses as a sign of his disappointment in me and harbored some feelings of rejection from him. James calls such a view of God double-mindedness, questioning whether God is really trustworthy. Perhaps some of you have shared a similar journey with me.
My mother battled against depression and mental illness much of her adult life. By God’s grace she walked that journey and continued to find grace for each day, able to encourage many in her life in spite of her struggle. I remember in one conversation with her when I was about 16 saying to her, “ Mom, God can either be trusted with everything, or he can’t be trusted at all.” I know those words didn’t originate from me, because they really helped her on her journey of faith in a good father. In recent months, the Holy Spirit has brought those words back to me, challenging my doubts about God’s imminent presence with me, his goodness and trustworthiness.
I ask you to ponder this question with me: In this moment of your life, is God with you, and can he be trusted? If you draw near to him, will he respond, or will he remain distant and inaccessible, waiting for you to be perfect enough to earn his acceptance?
Jesus said in John 14:6 “ If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. MY FATHER WILL LOVE HIM, and WE WILL COME and MAKE OUR HOME WITH HIM”
I believe it’s the presence of a God who is near because He adopted us that empowers us to recognize and overcome the spirits that are sent out to destroy the world and diminish the influence of the body of Christ. GREATER IS HE THAT IS IN YOU!