“Determined and Bound: The Tyranny of ‘Close’”
Ever since I can remember, my heart’s desire has been to be as close to Jesus as humanly possible.
What that meant I wasn't exactly sure, but one thing was clear: In order to be close to Jesus, I needed to do certain things—things like praying, reading the Bible, and regularly attending church. Most of all, I needed to do the things I should and not do the things I shouldn’t. According to my youth pastor growing up (and most sermons I’ve heard since), the more faithful and committed I was to these things, the closer I could get to Jesus over time.
I became bound and determined to be as close to Jesus as possible. But after two decades of “chasing hard after God,” I found myself bound by my determination.
Bound by guilt, frustration, and self-condemnation, I couldn’t shake the feeling that my proximity to Jesus was somehow contingent on the faithfulness of my spiritual devotion. When I was consistent in praying, reading the Bible, and doing as I should, I considered myself to be “close” to Jesus. When I failed to do these things (which most often was the case), I thought myself to be “far” from him. Even when I was able to check all the boxes on my spiritual “to do” list, there remained a strange nagging deep in my soul—a mysterious discontentedness about my relationship with Jesus. I jostled between feeling far from Jesus when I wasn’t doing as I should, and longing to be closer still when I was. I was left chasing after Jesus like a child chasing a balloon in the wind.
By age thirty-two, I finally lost sight of Jesus altogether. And in doing so, I lost sight of myself. Marriage, paying bills, and earning a living depleted my emotional reserves, making “spending time with God” that much more difficult. In the end, I felt like a spiritual failure—convinced I was a million miles away from Jesus.
But at the most unexpected time, and through the most unlikely of ways, the Spirit of God breathed Jesus back into full view for me. And nothing could have prepared me for how close Jesus was in that moment—the moment I became a father for the first time.
Do you believe that your proximity to Jesus is contingent upon the faithfulness of your spiritual devotion? Explain.
Do you consider yourself to be “near” or “far” from Jesus today? Why do you feel this way?
When you feel "far" from God, how does that affect your day?