The near and the good

Want a sweet, feel-good Bible verse for your kitchen? I used to recommend this one: “As for me, the nearness of God is my good” (Psalm 73:28). But lately, the words unsettle me. Truth be told, they’ve kept me up at night.

The crux of the struggle is this: Being near to God has taken a “life is too busy” backseat. And that’s no good at all. For the record, morality is safely intact, prayers are still muttered, and church is attended. But I’ve missed relationship. I’ve missed contentment. I’ve missed what this verse embraces: The writer’s fulfillment—everything that’s good and right—is understood through unrushed, one-on-one God time. No wonder I’ve been lacking.

The first part of Psalm 73 sounds more like me of late. Asaph, the author, has been through the ringer of injustice, frustration, and loss. Also like me, he does his share of complaining. But by the last verse of this chapter…. Oh, boy. This is where Asaph shows me a thing or two: After all the belly aching, and despite continued hardships, he takes his weary self to the Lord’s feet.  Because when God is close, says Asaph, then all is good.

It’s a basic tenet of scripture, I realize. Believers are comforted in the presence of an attentive, ever-present Savior. So why am I not enjoying Him? Has the adage “God is with me” become rhetoric? Or, God forbid, trite? I know better. What’s good for me is nearness to Him. Being near to Him is goodness for me. So to jumpstart my spiritual reset, I paraphrased the verse in several ways:

* I don’t care if the world says that _____ defines contentment: Being near God is all I need.

* Everyone else may have blinders on, but I appreciate a good thing when I see it: God loves me. He wants relationship. And He’s not going anywhere.

* The good life has mercifully come my way: God (through Jesus—I’m adding some New Testament flavor here) wants closeness with me. With me! What else could I possibly desire?

I’m not quite there yet, this getting reacquainted with an intimate Lord. But I want to be. I’m asking God to show me more of Himself. I’m asking for the wisdom to simplify, to rest. And I’m already thinking differently. Here’s a prayer that’s crept into my Jesus time. Chances are, I’ve prayed this for you; feel free to pray it for me:

“Lord, you are good. You are light, joy, justice, and purpose. You are forgiving and loving, provider and sustainer. And you, Father, are near. Please help me [or whomever] sense it, desire it, treasure it, share it. And Lord, I’m thankful that your good presence is always good enough.”

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