Where Heaven Meets Earth
James 4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
I have over the last two years become desperately interested in how God changes me. In this process of sanctification, what am I to do and what does God do? Where do Heaven and Earth meet and what is my responsibility in this process? Do I just sit back (let go and let God) or does God make me do all the work?
The pragmatic James, neither philosopher nor theologian, does not pontificate about predestination and free will in providing his answer. The brother of Jesus provides the most beautiful and practical response to my question. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.
James says if I desperately want God, it is my job to pursue him desperately. Jesus said, Seek, and you will find (Matthew 7:7). If I seek God a little, I will get a little God. If I find that God is not working in my life and He seems distant, the defect is with my effort, not God’s work.
Some will chafe at the idea that we affect God’s work in our lives (God is, after all, in control) but James and Jesus both insist that this is how the process works in our experience. God of course, had to move first, but now, practically, the ball lies in our court. We must radically pursue God if we want radical change in our lives.
This is why so many of us, for so long, have had so little of God. We sort of want God when we give him five minutes a day and an hour on Sunday. Why do we seek so little? It is always the distraction of self that stands between God and us. We do not have to be perfect to come to God, but we do not get to enjoy blessed intimacy him while pursuing something above him.
The rich young ruler asked Jesus what he needed to do to be saved. Jesus reply? Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor (Luke 18:22). I always thought Jesus was being a little dramatic and mean to this seeker. I have realized however, that Jesus was just insisting on the God-ordained principle that one cannot seek something above God and pursue God at the same time.
I cannot be deceived here. That, which I seek above God, becomes my god. The rich young ruler already had a god and therefore had no room for The God. Whatever appetite I pursue above God, whether it is money, drugs, sexuality, pride, food, status or beauty becomes my god and prevents me from pursuing God. If I am distant from God, it is not because He does not want to come to me. It is because He insists on being my only God. God does not play second fiddle.
He does not leave us alone in this process. God wants us and He wants us to want him. He has literally moved heaven and Earth, giving radically of himself, to draw us to him. He is constantly calling us closer. It is now, practically, our job to do whatever it takes to leave behind the obstacle of self and desperately pursue him. When we draw near to God, He keeps his promise and He draws near to us. This is where Earth and Heaven meet.