[Come near to God]
Adding an exclamation mark to the title of this post was an afterthought, but I’m excited about this new series: “Faith: Mapped.”
Parents applaud and celebrate all of their child’s firsts: their first steps; their first words, and every sturdy new step they take throughout their life. Our Father, God, also rejoices as we draw near to Jesus–taking our very first baby steps of faith. (Zechariah 4:10)
That being said, every journey begins with a starting point, and has an end goal. The first step of faith is to address what we believe.
He Found Me
I wasn’t always actively seeking God. In fact, He was the furthest things from my mind, however, just as God summoned (or called) Isreal, He also calls us to Him.
“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” –John 10:3
A Done Deal?
So, maybe I originally thought that faith was an instantaneous thing; you say yes to God and it’s a done deal, right? (Hmm…nope). I was wrong on that point. (Philippians 43:1-2)
I continue to find that I’m wrong about many things, but this is part of that ongoing pilgrimage. So we press on towards the goal.
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” –Hebrews 11:1
It was at the age of twenty–when I started dating a Catholic fellow–that what I believed about God and religion began to be challenged. While he wasn’t the man that I’d marry, this part of the journey was a stepping stone for me (both towards the man that I would marry and my faith in God).
Dating a Catholic reintroduced me to wrapping my mind around the idea of God, and it was while we were dating that I began to question things, even praying one night, “God, if you’re real please make yourself real to me.” I use the word “reintroduced” because until I was 12 or 13 years old my parents were Jehovah’s Witnesses. (I may expand on this in a future post.)
Hebrews 11:1 may make one wonder why God would ever answer a doubtful prayer like mine. After all, I didn’t have faith. I wasn’t even sure of His existence! How could a prayer like mine ever please Him? Nevertheless, He did answer that prayer. He planted that seed of faith after all.
In the time that I’ve been walking with Jesus, I’ve learned that while faith may first start with a seed, that seed can take some time to germinate before it begins to take root and starts to grow. It also needs help to grow. How then could God ever deny a prayer like the one I prayed?
I could never have taken a step towards the Lord if He hadn’t first loved me, for on my own I had no intention of doing so. It was God Himself who drew me to Jesus.
“No one can come to me [Jesus] unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. –John 6:44
Even before my eyes met the words written in Scripture (“help me to believe more” or “help my unbelief”), I was unknowingly uttering this very sentiment myself. I didn’t realize that I was drawing closer to God, but even in that prayer, I was beginning to seek the truth.
God was drawing me to Him, but I doubt this is when He began to draw me, this is when I began to acknowledge Him. It wasn’t too long after my prayer that I would meet Andrew. (That’s another story.) Just after Andrew and I were engaged I agreed to another commitment: My journey of faith.
God Honors Our Steps of Faith
With time and experience, I’ve learned that Jesus honors even the smallest steps towards Him. This is what He wants. It isn’t what we can do for Him that He wants. (We can give Him nothing) It’s what He can do in us and through us that He desires, but every strong relationship (including a relationship with Jesus) requires a good measure of both giving and receiving, so faith requires forward movement.
Strong faith doesn’t happen overnight. Thankfully God is patient and gives us that time to grow.
“Come near to God and He will come near to you.” –James 4:8