"God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’" (Acts 17: 22-29)
At the start of this new year these words are ringing in my ears, “he is not far from any one of us.” What is the distance between you and God? Not far. So many of us have been told of the chasm between Holy God and sinful man, and I’m sure that’s true in some respect. Yet Paul spoke these words to people who did not care whether Paul’s God was real or not. He spoke to pagans with no regard for the holiness of God and no awareness of their own sin. He told them that God was behind the events and identities of their lives and pulling the levers in order to encourage people to turn his direction.
What is the distance between you and God? How far do we have to go to connect with him? Not far. It turns out that each day we live, we move, we take our steps, breath our breaths, we run our errands and do our jobs and live our lives--and all the while he is not far from any one of us. Do I know this? Do I feel it? (Or in the words of my friend Kristin Tennant, do I make space for him?) If he is not far, how much space do I need?
How can we make space for him? John Wesley was one of 19 children; his mother, Susannah, made space for God by pulling her apron over her head and taking a moment to pray. How can we make space for him? I have a friend who takes a ten-minute retreat from everything, including his own thoughts, just to sit in silence with God. I have another friend who uses his a different scripture reference as his computer’s password; each time he logs on he recites the verse and asks for God’s help in his work. Bill Johnson, pastor of Bethel church in Redding, CA suggests, “Since you can't imagine a place where He isn't, you might as well imagine Him with you.”
Whatever we may think the distance is, the testimony of the scripture is that he is not far from us. No one is excluded. How far do we need to turn? In the coming year perhaps we can learn that the answer is, “Not far.”