An Accessible God

Posted on February 28, 2013 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Devotional Reflections

Rankin-Devotional“And you shall seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found by you, declares the Lord.”  Jeremiah 29:14

While traveling back to our missionary roots in Indonesia earlier this month, I used stories of our field experiences in sharing a devotional time each night with my grandchildren. Being immersed in Muslim culture and awakened by the call to prayer from the mosque at 4:00 am each morning, we were reminded us of the blatant contrast between Islam and Christianity.

After an aborted communist coup in 1965 the Indonesian government required all its citizens to practice a religion that believed in God as a deterrent to this potential threat that had captured China and was poised to spread through Southeast Asia. This shared belief in God became a point of witness as I would ask people if they believed in “Tuhan yang Maha Esa”–the one almighty God. The response was always affirmative, but when I asked if they knew Him personally the reply was either a puzzling expression or laughable retort. To them God was so high, exalted and impersonal that He could not be known.

That opened the door to share how I had had an experience of coming to know God personally; they were intrigued by the concept that I would claim to know God, and often they would be interested in exploring how that was possible. Christianity should not be understood as another religion, or even as THE religion with its unique teachings, doctrines and forms of worship. It is a relationship with a God who can be known through His Son, Jesus Christ–He who paid the penalty for our sin and opened the way for sinful man to be restored to a personal relationship with a holy God. He has even given His Spirit to live within us, to accompany us along life’s journey and empower us for the kind of life that is pleasing to Him.

Our passage in Jeremiah follows the familiar, oft-quoted verse: “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). God is speaking to His people who are in exile in Babylon to assure them that nothing was happening to them apart from His divine providence. Currently they were suffering and in bondage, but He had a plan that would give them hope and bless them.

How do we know God’s plan, experience His blessings and have hope for a better life? How can we make it out of the morose of problems and conflicts that seem to overwhelm us? It is by coming into God’s presence, because He is our sufficiency, not we ourselves. God assures us He is accessible, but we are not going to be aware of His presence blessing us and giving us hope by a passive, casual regard for His will.

We don’t necessarily have a victorious sense of God’s abiding presence by attending church and practicing a perfunctory devotional time each day, though that is definitely a good starting point. We must be compelled in our heart to seek Him and know Him. As a familiar song says, being desperate to know God must be the air that we breathe.

God’s Spirit, indeed, is always drawing us to Him, convicting our hearts when we stray from His presence by asserting our own will. But we must be motivated to seek Him, to call upon Him, to pray to Him, to search for Him with all our heart. And God assures us He is accessible–”I will listen to you….and I will be found by you.”

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