So, up front, I'm going to let you know that this post is brought to you by the book Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret. Actually, it's not brought to you by that book at all -- only its title. Somehow this title was stuck in my head as I was going to bed the other night. It kept replaying itself as I brushed my teeth. So many people ask that question: "Are you there, God?" Some people are asking it but they don't know that they're asking it. Several of my close friends have told me that they believe that there is "something there, but I don't know what." A lot of debate goes into whether or not God is there -- whether He exists. People argue over this for days. You have only to look at the works of Richard Dawkins or any of the apologetics books I read when I was in high school. The argument over whether or not God is there is a big question, and everyone wants to answer it.
But the other night, as I pulled the covers over my head, it hit me that we're asking the wrong question.
Don't get me wrong. It's an important question. There are plenty of people out there who don't believe in God. They don't believe He's there. They don't believe in His existence, or they question it. It's an important question to ask, to be sure. But I don't think it's The Question -- the important one.
We talk about God as being there, as if He's far away. The French word that comes to mind is "là-bas" -- over there. As if you're pointing to some spot in the distance. Over there, He's over there -- or He's not, as some people think. As if you can see Him on the edge of your line of sight.
No, my friends. God is not far away, like the deists think. He didn't wind up the universe and let it go, distancing Himself from us. God isn't over there.
God is here.
This might be a good place to say that this has all the potential to be a Christmas post. I thought it up in May. You're welcome.
Jesus was known as Immanuel. In Hebrew, that means "God with us." God is not over there -- le Seigneur n'est pas là-bas. Il est ici -- He is here.
God has always been involved in the operation and day-to-day running of the universe. Heck, He created it, so without Him it would kind of (definitely) fall apart. But even before the coming of Christ, He was near. He was close to the Israelites, His people: "I will never leave you nor forsake you." He never bailed out on them, even when they followed Him in a crappy way, or even when they bailed on Him. He's not about that. He doesn't abandon us. Whenever they repented and called out to God, He was right there. In an instant, in the twinkling of an eye. He was with them. The Israelites used to say that God was in the camp with them. Immanuel.
I'm not going to treat you like you don't know what Christmas is about. I recently listened to a podcast in which Emily Freeman said that Christmas is about how God came down to be with us, and it is His "with-ness" that we celebrate at Christmastime -- and all the time, really. And now that we have the Holy Spirit, we actually have the presence of God with us all the time. Like, the physical presence.
As a disciple, I am in Christ. As in, He is so close to me that He is within me, and I within Him.
I'm breathing His air. That's how close He is.
So, yes, God exists. But He isn't "there". He's here. With me.
More than that, I am the image-bearer of Jesus. He created me to be so: humankind were created in the image of the invisible God. And because I am His image-bearer, and because He is with me, He comes out in me -- both in the Sara that I am now and in the Sara He has made me to be (In her book A Million Little Ways, Emily Freeman puts it so beautifully, and I cannot write it the same way that she does -- but this is my paraphrase). He comes out in us when we are the us He created us to be -- because He is with us.
Because He is here.
He is my constant companion, my life breath, my best friend, my guide, my never-ending, never-departing Lover Who holds my hands and calls me darling and longs for me. He is constantly near me. He is close.
He isn't a distant point on the horizon. He is the rays of sun on my face.
He is in the trenches with me. He is in the victories, in the low places, in the darkness, in the grit, in the dirt. In the light, in the green and blue, in the joy.
He is here.