Draw Near to God and He Will Draw Near to You (James 4:8)

I have heard it said that “God is a gentleman.” I am not sure who said it or the context in which it was first said, but I think it was in terms of how God responds to us in that he doesn’t force us to be in relationship with him. Rather, he is patient with us and gives us the freedom to choose or reject him. And the glorious promise in this freedom is that, when we draw near to God he will draw near to us. God invites us to come to him all throughout scripture. And he promises that if we come to him he will always be there for us.

For those of us who struggle with sadness, loneliness and even depression due to abandonment or rejection this may be the greatest promise in scripture second only to the promise of forgiveness and eternal life for those who trust Jesus to take away their sins. I dare say that this may also be one of the most difficult promises to believe, especially if you struggle with the consequences of abandonment or rejection.

I imagine that no one is spared the bitter taste of rejection, this life is full of it. Depending on where you keep your thoughts focused, anyone could certainly feel rejected, abandoned and completely alone, like you will never be good enough, or never measure up to a standard you believe has been imposed upon you by someone you love, someone you report to, or perhaps by only yourself.

Those who know me well know that I am a fan of One Tree Hill. Its one of my SOAP Network guilty pleasures when the days are long and I need a mental break. One of the main characters in the show struggles with abandonment and is often quoted saying, “People always leave.” In fact, the “People always leave” theme runs throughout multiple seasons of the show. Her birth parents gave her up for adoption, her adoptive mother died in a car crash and her father works in dredging and is away at sea for weeks at a time. No wonder she feels abandoned. And what she fears the most is also where she bases her identity. She thinks, “People always leave … because of me.”

But with God, we see a much different theme. James 4:8 says “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” What a wonderful truth! A promise of which we can be sure and on which we can lay down our burdens and rest. No matter what our circumstances may be, if we make even this slightest move toward God, he is right there next to us. Just like in the story of the prodigal son, when the son returns expecting to be rejected, his father sees him coming and runs out to meet him along the way. Not only does he run to meet him, he then throws a huge party in his honor because his son who was lost has been found!

People may leave, but God never leaves. And this is a promise worth believing!

So promise #1 that I have written on my heart is “Draw Near to God and He Will Draw Near to You” James 4:8. With God, I am never rejected or abandoned. In his love I am never left alone.

God sets the lonely in families… Psalm 68:6

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:7-10

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8

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