God Near us
I used to participate in a witnessing team when I was in Bible College. Each week we would meet at a brothers house living just outside of the University of Washington and pray that God would help us share the gospel with those on campus.
I must admit. I was not very good at witnessing. I felt uneasy approaching people cold like that but knew that Jesus wanted me to try. Students, at liberal universities, are often times so wrapped up in their studies they have little time or interest in spiritual matters.
However, one day, as I walked around campus, I stood outside a large building with beautiful stonework. It was next to a small park. I just stood there for quite a while not knowing why. Presently, a young woman burst through the doors to my left and ran into the park; collapsing under a small tree to my right. She cried and sobbed shouting “Why God, why God…” Her agony was terrible to watch and hear. I had not heard someone cry out to God like that since I was eight years old and my mother’s father died in her arms while our family was on a camping trip.
I felt compassion well up within me and it moved me to sit down near her. She did not notice I sat there and continued to rock back and forth as she sobbed painfully. I prayed. I did not know what to do. I asked God what to so say. Eventually, she noticed I was there and said, between her tears, “what do you want!?” The only thing I could say was, “God loves you.” She replied, “no, He doesn’t or he would not have let this happen!” After that she went back to crying and I felt to say nothing more. I sat there for a long time until she started to quiet down and then I felt it was ok to leave. The truth is that I wanted to take her in my arms an hold her. Comfort her in some way. Perhaps now days I would have the courage to do something like that but back then I was a young man and more self-conscious.
The truth is, while the young woman was crying out to God in pain, wondering where He was, He was sitting right next to her in me. Had she wanted to know anything about the Bible I probably could have answered her. Had she wanted to speak directly to Him He might have answered. Had she allowed me to and had I the courage to do so, I would have held her just as God wanted to do. God was near her event though she felt He was a million miles away. No one else even came near her all that time but God did because He cared and I happened to be there and available.
Over the years I have leaned to trust the Spirit of God more and be bolder when it comes to stepping out in faith under difficult circumstances. Everyone has to start somewhere though, and even then I was beginning to yield to His Spirit.
Never underestimate the treasure that we have within our earthen vessels. Just as Jesus was Emanuel (God with us) we are now Emanuel because God is in us. The closest that many people ever come to God is when we stand next to them. Let us all open our hearts and allow God to do His will through us for those who are lost and hurting so that God can be near them when it really counts.