Coming Near to God

In a race, everyone runs but only one person gets the first price. So run your race to win. To win the contest you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best. An athlete goes to all this trouble just to win a blue ribbon or a silver cup, but we do it for a heavenly reward that never disappears. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I fight to win. I'm not just shadow-boxing or playing around. Like an athlete I punish my body, treating it roughly, training it to do what it should, not what it wants to. Otherwise I fear that after enlisting others for the race, I myself might be declared unfit and ordered to stand aside. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (TLB)

And when you draw close to God, God will draw close to you. James 4:8 (TLB)

Barbara Gordon is from Missouri. She clutched her side and felt a pulsating sensation in her throat. With each labored breath, her chest heaved up and down. She had finished her first 5K run, just before her fifty-first birthday.

Barbara had started running just one year earlier. In those early days, she jogged only when she felt like it and at a speed that felt comfortable. That approach, however, did not yield great results. Then she discovered a plan.

Her strategy began with walking a few minutes, followed by running 60 seconds. The alternating walking/jogging schedule increased until after a couple of weeks she could run five minutes nonstop. Instead of feeling exhausted with limbs too heavy to move, she felt refreshed.

Distance running required disciplining her physical life. Likewise, we strengthen our spiritual lives through the disciplines of Bible study, meditation, fasting, and prayer. A Bible-reading plan and a designated time and place of prayer helps Barbara to stay focused as she comes near to God. Coming close to God requires directing our hearts toward God - not with a prescribed list of activities to earn God's favor but rather an outpouring of desire to spend time with God. And just as today's verse promises, God comes near to us.

There is nothing we can do to earn God's favor as everything we have comes from God. What He desires is a humble heart and a desire to spend time with Him, to get to know him. When we fall in love with someone, isn't it natural to want to spend as much time with that person as possible? We will rearrange our time and cancel activities in order to see our "loved one". That is the feeling that God desires from us - that no matter what, we want to spend time with Him.

Prayer: O Lord, increase our desire to know you better, in Jesus' name, amen.

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