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When the kids were growing up, Todd and I talked openly with them about God’s provision and presence. We prayed with them, read them Bible stories, and fully integrated ourselves into the life of the Church so they wouldn’t miss any opportunities to witness and experience these things for themselves, but now that they’re grown, the burden of effort where spiritual matters are concerned rests squarely on their shoulders. All we can really do at this point is remind them of what they already know and, hopefully, saw in us.

My dearest children, 

Salvation is free, but fellowship with God takes work. 

I wish I could tell you the Christian life was easy and that putting your faith in Jesus for salvation from the consequences of sin was the hard part, but that’s not true. Salvation is the simple, if not easy, beginning of a life with just as many ups and downs as anyone else faces, maybe more. This being true, there will be times you feel close to God and times you don’t.

Although some of that fluctuation can be blamed on the mental, emotional, and physical limitations that come with being human, perceived static in your communication and/or distance in your relationship with God should never be ignored. If caused by sin or apathy, it will only get worse with time, and your pain will only deepen if you don’t address it.

“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).

Where intimacy is concerned, God does not barge. He invites. Just as He didn’t force you to become His child and enter into a permanent relationship with Him by putting your faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection for salvation, He will not force you into daily intimate fellowship with Him.

He expects it, yes. Why wouldn’t He? He is the source of your eternal security, after all. But He will not force it.

Instead, He waits, wooing you with His goodness and grace and allowing circumstances, like sheepdogs, to encourage you back into His glorious presence, the only place true safety can be found.  Like the prodigal’s father, God is always available to His children, arms open wide, ready to forgive, comfort, heal, restore, teach, encourage, fill, and strengthen.

But you have to let Him.  You have to go home.

Of course, that requires humility. To seek Him, you must admit your own inadequacy and need.

It requires submission. To serve Him, you must deny yourself.

It requires repentance. To live in the light, you must leave the darkness.

It requires focus. To see Him, you must look at Him.  To hear Him, you must listen.

It requires obedience. To know Him better, you must do what He says so He can show you how He works.

It requires discipline. To progress, you must make conscious, consistent choices to keep moving in the right direction.

Most importantly, it requires faith, belief so strong it leads to action.  Fortunately, He’s ready to provide as much of that as you need.  All you have to do is apply it.

That intimacy your soul craves, the almost tangible assurance that God is right there, accepting you, loving you, preserving you for Himself through good times and bad?  It’s yours for the taking—Jesus said so (John 14:23)—but first, you must draw near.

Devour His Word.  Keep praying.  Let the Holy Spirit renew your mind as you walk faithfully the path He points out.  Lean into your brothers and sisters for mutual encouragement, correction, and support.  When you so strive, the Father will meet you, and the payoff will far outweigh any cost.