When God comes near

A series of events have left me speechless (at least in the blogosphere) these past several days. The events span the sublime (Osama bin Laden is actually dead?) to the surreal (the Lakers were swept?) to the satirical (we added 250,000 jobs in April but unemployment still rose?). I simply haven’t known what to say amidst the seemingly significant chatter that bombards me every day. Have you ever felt paralyzed by information overload?How about paralyzed by overwhelming circumstances of daily life in Los Angeles?

In Luke 24:13-33 the risen Jesus encounters two paralyzed disciples on the road to Emmaus. Luke records that their faces were downcast and they stood still (v17). I believe they were depressed. Afraid. Paralyzed. Easter for them was far from a festive afternoon brunch. Their leader is dead and they are lost. But Jesus comes near these discouraged disciples. If the life of Jesus is supposed to teach us something about God then at the very minimum we learn that God comes near to the fearful and discouraged (just like Psalm 34:8 teaches us). Jesus is not repelled by doubtful and paralyzed disciples but strains to get close to us humans, much like His mission in the incarnation–as one writer put it, “God in our skin.” Jesus doesn’t wait for their theology to get corrected before approaching them on the road. God comes near the hurting even if we don’t believe it.

Jesus teaches us in Luke 24 that God likes to span chasms that separate us from Him physically and metaphysically. The whole reason Jesus came to earth was to get close to His lost humanity and one day Scripture says the chasm will be bridged and redeemed humanity will be with Him forever in a new City on a renewed heaven and renewed earth (Revelation 21).

But we don’t have to wait until Jesus returns to enjoy His presence. He promises to come near right now on the road where you are travelling. If your journey is full of fear, doubt, paralysis or depression, Jesus does not avoid you but rather purposely comes near. That’s one thing Luke 24 teaches us about Jesus.

If you were to describe the road you are on, what words would you use? Do you believe that Jesus is near to you amidst your pain? Would you be willing to model the loving nearness of Jesus this week to someone you encounter on the journey of life? You don’t have to have your life all together in order for God to use you in a powerful way in someone else’s life. Dare to draw near to others–yes, even strangers–and see what the Holy Spirit will do as you simply show up in peoples’ lives. I bet He’ll minister to you as well as you make yourself available to be used this week. Let me know how it goes.

 

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