The moon is an average of 238,855 miles away from us. The sun is 93 million miles away. The planet Uranus is 1,783,939,400 miles from earth. All of these are things that are very far from us.
And while it’s true that away is away and “a miss is as good as a mile,” it’s also true that to be away but yet very near can be a tantalizing combination. Absalom was away from his father, David, for three years in Geshur. While that bothered him, he apparently came to accept both the physical and relational distance between the two of them. But when he was allowed to move back to Jerusalem where David lived but was still not allowed see him, the proximity became too much for him. You can hear his heartache as he asks, “Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me if I were still there!”
When Paul stood before the intelligentsia of Greek society at the Areopagus, he told them that there was an overarching unity to the universe’s diversity because one God had brought all things into being and set up the world in such a way that “men would seek Him” (Acts 17:27). He then assured them that God “is not far from each one of us.” He has configured things so that He is very close to us yet we must still make the effort to connect with Him. He is in His word, in His world, in His people but we must seek Him.
How much God must love us if He is willing to put Himself so near to us and expose Himself to the risk that we would never seek to connect with Him and leave Him dangling in tantalizingly close fashion. It’s much like parents bringing a child into this world in the hope that they will nurture, raise and release someone who will chose to return their love. But as any parent (or child) can tell, it doesn’t always work out that way. There are no guarantees. What pleasure God must take in us to be willing to risk such pain. What disappointment He must feel when we stop short in our seeking of Him. And how shortsighted we must be if we have God so close to us and allow ourselves to be distracted by anything else so that we don’t seek Him.
Many ask the question, “Where is God?” That’s a fair question and the biblical answer is: He is very near. But after that question has been asked and answered, there is something more that needs to be asked—”Where are we? Are we seeking the presence of God in our lives?”
I believe it was Joseph Parker who said that when God was making the world, He raised up a little hill called Calvary where He knew His heart would one day be broken. He has sought us from before the beginning. He made the world (including Calvary), with us in mind! He is not far from each one of us and He’d love to be closer.