Yet I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward, You will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Those who are far from You will perish; You destroy all who are unfaithful to You. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all Your deeds. (Psalm 73:23-28)
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Distance in a relationship is never a fun thing.
I can remember the dating years when Kate and I lived almost an hour away from each other. Communication was difficult, face-to-face time was minimal, and of course there was the monthly tension due to unmet expectations.
Because we were far away in literal distance, we often felt far away in all other aspects of our relationship. And this is the same for all earthly relationships.
I say "earthly relationships" because this little pattern tends to be flip-flopped when looking at our relationship with God.
Think about it.
When we get lazy in prayer, skip out on reading God's word, or even become too "busy" for church - things that one does in a growing relationship with God - we can begin to feel a "literal distance" between us and Him.
If there is a strain in any aspect of our relationship, we take it as if God is a thousand miles away from us. And when our relationship with Him gets numb, dry, and normal, we feel as if He is no longer near; that we are actually far from Him.
And with that perspective, we can read this Psalm and find a "scary" verse in it: "Those who are far from You will perish; You destroy all who are unfaithful to You."
When far, we fear that we have "lost" God, that He is "angry" with us, and Satan does a really good job at getting us to doubt His love, grace, and very present presence.
But please realize...this passage says a lot more than that "scary" verse. It says: "Yet I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand."
Though we feel "far," the reality is that God is always present; always here; and always working. He promises during multiple verses of His Word that He is ever-present and will never leave us.
When I read this psalm, it is as if the author needed to remind himself of this truth. He says, "Whom have I in heaven but You?" (a question that he asks both God and himself) "And earth has nothing I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (statements that he confidently makes).
Every sentence seems to be his attempt at convincingly reminding himself of His relationship with the Lord. Though God is always present, he needed to remind himself to be present.
If I sit down and think about it, I feel far from God, not because He is not present with me, but because I am not present with Him.
I am not alert, awake, and aware of His movements.
That is why the psalmist writes: "But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all Your deeds."
He is reminding himself to be near to God; to make the LORD his refuge and his go-to.
If you have felt as if God is far from you, please recognize that your current feelings have more to do with your lack of presence than His; for He is everywhere, always.
And for those of you who feel Him closer than ever, let today's devotion be a reminder to praise Him for His guidance and grace.
With that said, I challenge all of you to re-read this Psalm and let it be your personal prayer to God. Let every one of us exchange our feelings of distance with an intentional awareness of Him all around us.
We would love to know, what do you do when you feel "far" from God? Feel free to answer in today's IG post. And as always, please help us out by sharing today's devotion and joining us next week!
Greg, Declare Glory