If you are looking for a way to draw near to God in the new year, refreshing how you approach Him might be a good thing. Here are four very different approaches to some quiet or not-so-quiet time with our relational God.
A Loving Father
My dad has had a beard since before beards were hip. He keeps it pretty closely shaved, so it feels a little like a scrubby sponge if you touch it with your cheek. When I was a little girl, I used to sit in my dad’s lap just to feel the beard.
For me, the comfort of my dad’s beard wasn’t about texture or shading (bits of white coming in for as far back as I can remember). It was about invitation. If my dad was talking to adults around a dinner table, I knew I could push my way through his arms and maneuver my way onto his lap and there wouldn’t even be a single break in the conversation. When I had a bad dream at night, I’d knock on my parents’ door and he’d bring me back to bed, staying long enough to calm my fears with promises of God’s protection. In every instance, I’d rub the top of my head on his beard. Touching a beard is an intimate thing, and my dad always offered it freely to me. The beard was an open invitation to draw closer, to be loved on, and to draw near.
An Invitation to Draw Near
Not all of us have awesome beard memories with our dads, and some of us struggle with more difficult memories than comforting ones. But we do have an invitation to draw near, every day, from a Father who enjoys sharing our time, our thoughts, our fears, and our lives. One of the best things about studying The Song of Songs is that we see intimacy in relationships from many different angles. The drawing near in relationship isn’t confined to husband and wife, but to the friendship found in the chorus of supporters and the life of the family (beards or no beards). One thing this can teach us is that we are invited to approach our relationship with God through different expressions, at different times.
If you are looking for a way to draw near to God in the new year, perhaps a refresh on how we approach Him might be a good thing.
Since God is vast and multifaceted, perhaps our communication with God might also be vast and multifaceted?
Here are four very different approaches to some quiet or not-so-quiet time with our relational God, drawing near to Him in His Word, and always through His Son, Jesus:
The WhoaSometimes we need to see and remember God as big and infinite. He can’t always be understood through the relationships we see and experience here on earth. As you sit down to draw near, pull out Genesis 1 or Job 38. Look around you and notice one detail of nature and creation. Consider God’s voice speaking this thing into being.
- What care does God have for this one small detail?
- What authority does He have over it?
- What gift(s) does He give us through it?
Imagine how Jesus will restore all things in the new creation. Ask Him what He has put before you to steward and care for in the meantime.
The Open Hands
Slowly read through a short passage in the Gospel accounts.
- Who is Jesus connecting with in this account?
- Where is He going?
- What is He doing and/or saying?
Open your hands up and ask God where He would like to send Jesus into the world, through you today. How is the Holy Spirit faithfully directing your words in daily conversations? In Bob Goff or Greg Finke fashion, ask God what adventures, even the most mundane ones, He has planned for you today.
The epistles are what I like to think of as “big-word books.” They teach us about abstract concepts like propitiation, redemption, atonement, and righteousness. This can be intimidating, but also enlightening. Read through one of the letters of the New Testament (Romans is always a good place to start) and focus on a word you don’t understand or are simply intrigued by. Look up cross references in your study Bible or on a Bible app, ask a pastor about it, post on social media to hear other people’s thoughts on the word (considering the source and with the filter of the Word of God), pray for God to direct you in His Word and in the catechism to true knowledge and understanding about this concept.
And last, but certainly not least . . .
The Father’s Lap
We have a friend, Matt, who starts every prayer with, “Jesus, we love You.” This simple phrase did a number on my prayer life. I realized that I never told God how I felt about Him. Yes, He knew, He knows, but communicating emotions—positive or negative—is part of drawing near in every relationship, including our relationship with a Father who loves us enough to sacrifice His Son. God tells me He loves me over and over in the Word.
- What if I told Him how much I loved Him?
- What if I told Him when I was angry at Him, rather than shutting myself off from communicating with Him?
- What if I scratched the top of my head back and forth on His metaphorical beard and let Him comfort me?
The Letters of John and the Book of Psalms are especially helpful for seeing God as loving Father, holding us and giving us hard truth in love, comfort in affliction, and conversation in the everyday.
So, beyond a story about the merits of beards for dads, I hope you take this article as an opportunity to see God from many angles. Today, open the Word, be wowed by His infiniteness, nurtured by His sacrifice, and comforted by His affection.
Learn more about how to draw near in Heidi's Bible study, Altogether Beautiful: A Study of the Song of Songs.