-- Our two-year-old grandson greets newcomers as only a two-year-old can.
He charges toward them, head down and arms curled at his side for ultimate speed,
jumps in the air, lands with his arms stretched out to the max, and shouts, "It's
Absolutely sure that he is loved and accepted, he knows that his presence
is treasured. His winsome greeting makes that clear. I think he's on to something.
I suspect that is the way we should approach our Father. Our presence is desired,
we are treasured, even more.
Do I have the nerve to do it? Or, more aptly,
do I have the faith? No. But I'm working on it since reading a book by Brennan
Manning called The Ragamuffin Gospel.
Manning argues that the love of God
is so vast and so personal that we cannot comprehend it. But we must strive to
grasp it if we are not to miss out on the blessings God has in store for us.
use of the term "ragamuffin" is very important here. To me it's a tender, endearing
term that captures the heart of the Father for His bruised and battered children.
I don't feel like a ragamuffin with nothing but a few scuffs here and there.
I feel like a filthy sinner, tormented by the past and fearful of the mistakes
I am making in the present. As I write that, I am stunned by both its truth and
folly. This attitude may be a sin in itself. It devalues the mercy of God.
to truly fathom the Father's love? "The spiritual future of ragamuffins," writes
Manning, "consists not in disavowing that we are sinners but in accepting that
truth with growing clarity, rejoicing in God's incredible longing to rescue us
in spite of everything."
Incredible longing. To think that the Almighty
Creator of the Universe longs for my presence, for my love.
To get closer
to me, He did the unthinkable. He donned this tainted human form and lived without
taint. Sinless, He took all of my wrongdoing, wrong thinking and the wounds they
have caused to the cross. He experienced the tortuous death that my sin required.
In the miracle of eternity, He died for the exact sin I committed yesterday and
the one I will commit tomorrow. Imagine the horror of experiencing the pain incurred
by every single sin that will ever be committed by mankind. Imagine the love.
That's what I do when I approach the Father. I remember the cross. But
that alone could lead you down a road to agonizing regret. We must turn our eyes
to the resurrection. God let Jesus suffer like that, willed it out of love for
us, but he brought Him back to life. He dealt with our sin so that we might have
life and dwell with Him.
To draw closer to Him I have started a prolonged
prayer time, just spending time in God's presence. How can you love God unless
you are close to Him? And how can you get close to Him without setting aside time
for that? Lots of time. But it never seems like enough. I am always disappointed
when that time runs out.
I can't explode into His presence like my grandson.
Rather, I tip toe. I praise and worship God first, singing any praise songs He
brings to mind. Sometimes I forget the words and have to ad lib so I make sure
no one but God can hear me fumble around. But God is present in the praises of
His people and this is the surest way I have found to come into His presence.
There are two ways to go from there. One is very structured. I take the
Lord's Prayer as my template and pray through my life, through my family and through
the world. On some days I need that structure.
But on other days, I go
where the Lord leads me. Prayer needs will come to mind as I praise and meditate
on God's goodness. I will tackle these in whatever order they present themselves,
mindful of all the elements of the Lord's prayer and attuned to eventually fitting
them into my time with God.
The closer I get to God, the less this prayer
time focuses on me. For that I heartily thank Him. I get mighty sick of myself
sometimes. What a blessing it is to focus on Him and His will.
with more praise and then read a few chapters in my Bible.
This is not
a formula for success. These are tools I personally find useful. Others will approach
God differently. But do approach Him. You may whisper at first. But as you grow
and begin to comprehend God's amazing love, you will gain the confidence to come
into His presence and declare, "It's me Lord."
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