Near

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Near to me. So much of my sin, so much of my pride, and so many of my excuses have been about me being alone– my perception of Him being far. Sometimes I don’t notice the fabulous nature of it all–of being His daughter, of having Him dwell in me. I am Martha in the day-to-day, afraid and swollen with anxiety. Noticing His nearness is a matter of posture, a matter of peeking around the corner of the kitchen and seeing.

Service loses its goodness when it loses sight of the Savior. He is near. Let the pots wait. Let your knees bend. How many times will I wipe the counter and think it is more of a reality in my life than He is?

His nearness breaks the curse of loneliness that makes us believe we are the center of our world, that our sin only touches us. There are many ways to be lonely–sometimes loneliness awaits in a lack of people, sometimes it awaits in their excess. It is the mama with children pulling, and it is the bachelor at home with his computer. It is the woman who watches romances to feel the hope of perfect love; it is the child who throws and screams to be noticed. “For I am with you” Jesus said. Those were some of His last words on earth.

I want to remember those words in the empty, in the mundane, in the bountiful.

It is His nearness that can be our deepest desire and our greatest fear. We long for His comfort, but we fear the conviction. We foolishly believe that we can truly be alone, so we plunge into our sinful ways, then are fearful of coming to Him for His forgiveness and the comfort of His love.

This idea of coming “boldly before the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16) seems like a fairytale. I struggle and squirm, bite my fingernails, and wince at the idea of His nearness and knowledge of my thoughts and struggles. Only in His presence, only due to His nearness is change possible, a ‘happily ever after’ within my grasp. In battle, it is the nearness of the Captain that gives the soldiers courage.

It is His voice we need, rushing over our souls and implanting truth. We also need His nearness. His presence so close—it is both a caution and a reprimand. We cannot run. Certain days I shudder at that thought, even though I know I should delight in it. I feel dirty. My alabaster jar is full of oil, full of oil because I am full of sin, full of a past. Why would he want that poured on His feet? Why should my hair touch His skin?

There are moments I envy Mary and Martha. I want to sit on the floor and look into Jesus’ eyes—to be physically assured of His love and forgiveness towards me—to see His smile and know that I am special to Him—that twinkle in the eyes my earthly Daddy has for me, where I know that I am one of the dearest things in the whole world to him.

It is the ultimate comfort of a child–the nearness of a loving father.

But I will have to wait to see the Lord’s smile just a little longer, enjoying the beauty of this life along the way. There is a lot of it.

When Jesus was nearing the end of His time on earth, He told his disciples that He would leave them the Comforter (the Holy Spirit) and that it was better that way (John 16). We live in the better-that-way. Don’t you forget it.

Keep the Faith,

Audrey Ann

“Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 23:23-24, ESV)

“But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.” (Psalm 73:28)

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Fire Contained: The Beauty of Being Ablaze

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I have an affinity for fire–the smell, the crackle, the warmth. Camping was a large part of my childhood, and bonfires were a staple of a Midwestern high schooler’s experience. Living outside of city limits for most of my life, I grew up with deep pity for those who were not allowed to kindle a few flames outside for marshmallows and reflective chit-chat.

It is forever mesmerizing, that quick, unpredictable dance of orange that pops and sparks of wild beauty. Oh, but fire–she is a dangerous and temperamental little gal. One minute she brings comfort and warmth, and the next she brings tragedy. When I was a waitress, I once served a family who lost their home to a fire that previous evening–they lost everything. I will never forget their faces. Fire is a power; it is a tool. And it always depends on whether or not it is contained. So it is with us.

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Sometimes in conversations with my husband I defend myself for no reason and argue my case until it is dead and buried with petunias growing on top. I act like the stereotypical, insecure woman who renders her case of self-promotion counterproductive in that she appears ridiculous, angry, and like she secretly believes the rumors that she is less-than.

“She doth protest too much.”

I fear that being a “good Christian wife” means giving up my spunk, my brain, my spirit. I fear it not because of my husband, for he bolsters my opinion of myself–both intellectually and physically. I fear it not because of the Bible–Jesus Christ absolutely promoted the dignity and equality of woman. But there is all the noise–the noise of media and social media. Every once in a while it is the noise of certain Christians. These people say one of two things. One: to be a Christian woman is to be subservient and give up your creativity. Two: to be a Christian woman means you have no voice, or at least it is a very mousey, manipulative one at best.

These are not the values of a Christian woman–a cold, emberless hearth. We are to be ablaze, filled with vigor and life! Yes, we do have certain roles. There is order in the way God arranged the family, but that does not negate equality. Rather, it allows for harmony and teamwork. It is a living, breathing picture of the gospel.

So today, this is my prayer: Let me be a woman who teeters not to the side of independence that leaves me lonely, nor to the side of dependence that leaves me dull. May I live with strength and servanthood. Allow my eyes to shine with innovation. I want to walk with confident humility, knowing that my value is given by You, Lord. For I know life is about making more of You and less of me.

If you are a bit of a spitfire like me, do not be discouraged. Contained fire can be wonderfully, beautifully wild.

Keep the Faith,

Audrey Ann