Draw Near to God

Christmas Tree


I grew up celebrating the birth of Jesus. The stockings were hung, the tree was trimmed, packages were lovingly wrapped, and tantalizing foods were prepared. Wreaths adorned the doors and lights illuminated each window of the house.

We counted down the weeks of advent at dinner each night by lighting candles of purple and pink. We set a ceramic baby Jesus upon a table surrounded by angels singing. We attended church on Christmas Eve.  We sang “O Holy Night”. We were scooted off to bed anticipating the surprises that would be waiting beneath the tree come morning. Family gathered on Christmas Day and we joyously celebrated the birth of God’s only son.  It was a wonderfully warm and cozy time.

But why?

Why did we celebrate?

I never fully understood why this child’s birth mattered to the world.

As I grew up, Christmas became less magical, less delightful, and less meaningful.

I turned my back on God completely by the time I reached high school.

I denied His existence.

I explained away the entire contents of the Bible as a mere fairytale.

I placed my faith and trust in science.


I wandered. I stumbled. I searched for meaning.

I went after the things of this world.


But then something happened.  There was a wake-up call.


I was a senior in college.

I had loving supportive parents.

I had a boyfriend I wanted to marry.

I was taking biochemistry.  It was an intense class for me.  It required lots of memorization and time for mastery.  I wasn’t putting the time in.  I was struggling.

I blamed the lame professor. I blamed her inability to teach.

And one day, as I sat in a large lecture hall taking a difficult exam, I seemingly snapped.  When I say snapped, I mean to convey that I did something in my anger and frustration which defied all logic.

In that moment, I should have handed the test in to my professor.

I should have faced the consequences of my irresponsibility and received my poor grade.

Instead, I rose to my feet, and left the room undetected.  I tore that exam to shreds and disposed of it.


My professor called later on to let me know my exam was missing.

I lied.  I explained how I had handed it in as usual, and nope, I had no clue where the exam might be.

I lied to my parents.

I lied to my boyfriend.


I was called into the dean’s office to discuss the matter and I lied again.

I told her the same story.

She looked me straight in the eyes and explained that this was between me and God.

She reminded me that one day I would face God and be held accountable for all of my actions.


Guilt plagued me.

I felt physically ill.  I lost my appetite.

My mind was consumed with shame and regret.

I wanted so badly to set things right again, to turn back time.

But I was a coward.  I had not the courage to move forward in truth.


So do you know what this self-proclaimed atheist began to do?

I began to bargain with God.

I promised, from this day forward, I would walk the path of the morally upright.

I would become less selfish.  I would help others.  I would receive perfect grades.  I would never judge another soul. I would do whatever it took to repair my wrongs.


And so I cast off, back into life, committed to earn forgiveness.

But do you know, no matter how hard you labor, forgiveness cannot be earned?

The sins of my past crept back into my mind daily, as a reminder.

I wanted so much to be freed from my mistakes, from these chains of bondage.


It was this sin of mine that made me ripe for hearing God’s rescue plan.

He had broken me down, softened my heart, and humbled me.

He moved to restore our relationship.  He showed me my sin. He revealed to me that I’m  not a good person. He caused me to understand that I wouldn’t just be buried 6 ft. in the ground and the game is over.  There would be a judgement. I would face my maker at the end of my life and give an account. (John 16:7)


God, in all his compassion and loving kindness, had pursued me.

He pursues all of us.

He tells us that the just punishment for our sin is death. (Romans 6:23)

But God doesn’t want to punish. He doesn’t want to judge.  He doesn’t wish for any to perish.

He wants us to be reconciled with Him.

He wants us to draw near to him.

He wants to spend eternity with you and me.


So now, I finally began to understand our need for Jesus.

God sent his only son into this world because of His great love for us.

Jesus left His glorious throne in Heaven and was born in a stable, a cave, with the animals.

He sent His Son to us, the lamb of God, to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins.


Jesus would grow up and be the light to a lost and dying world.  He would sacrifice everything for us.

The world would hate the light.  They would reject Him.  They would put Him to death on a cross at Calvary.

Even still, He would take our punishment.  He would get what we deserved.  He would endure the worst suffering, paying our debt, so that we could be forgiven.

Jesus would be the way to restore ourselves into right relationship with the Father.


Oh, to be forgiven.  I couldn’t imagine the freedom.

So when I finally began to hear God’s plan for redemption in its entirety, I was hooked.



That would have been nice.


I resisted.

I wrestled.

I questioned.

I rationalized.



Because I didn’t want to do it His way.

I didn’t want to follow His rules.

I didn’t want to live my life for Him.

After He had sacrificed everything, I was unwilling to sacrifice anything.


But my, I am a stubborn one.

I ran in the other direction.

The way I carried on, you would have thought this perfectly loving and holy God was attempting to hurt me rather than save me.


He overlooked my childish behavior.

He just kept right on patiently pursuing me with His never-ending and never-failing love.

He met me at ever juncture.

He closed doors.

He surrounded me.

And finally, finally, I held up my hands in surrender.


Lord, I believe.  I believe you sent Your only son to die on the cross for my sins. 

I deserved that punishment.  I deserved Your wrath.  I deserved death. 

But you, in all your mercy and grace, have given me forgiveness and eternal life instead.  

I accept your gift.  My life is Yours.

Thank you for never giving up on me.  Thank you for adopting me as Your daughter.

Thank you for sending Jesus.  He truly is the perfect gift.  

Lord, help us to remain focused on the birth of Jesus this Christmas season.

He is the light, our only hope in this lost and dying world.  Amen.


Has God pursued you?

Are your turning a deaf ear?

Are you running?

Have you rejected him?


He wants to restore you to Him.

He wants to forgive.

He wants to have a relationship with you.


Turn away from the distractions of this world.

Allow yourself to consider what the meaning of our time here on Earth is all about.

None of us is promised tomorrow.  All of our days are numbered.


Draw near to God.



The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.

Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.

The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.

2 Peter 3:9-10(NIV)




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