When you long to come closer (. . . but have no idea how)

Twice this week He has me laughing in wonder.  How does He do it, turning things right on their head?

The first time, He calls as I’m working. “Come closer.” It’s written right on the screen, words in an ad on the page I’m searching. I can’t see how the words relate to the ad. I know how they relate to me. To Him. I’m startled, so softened by His desire for me that I join in the gentle laughter I see in His eyes.

“Come closer.” He reaches for my hands. But they’re full, holding dishes to wash, people to call, studies to complete.

I wonder how. This listening and loving and responding to His call, how do I do it while still being responsible to the relationships and tasks I’ve been given?

It’s easier now. I have fewer commitments, fewer people crying for attention. But what about my time overseas, surrounded by life and death needs. How, then? What about mothers with hungry children? Doctors with busy on call nights? All of us surrounded by hurting people asking for help?

Isn’t it selfish to step out of the fray and be with Jesus when the needs around are so huge?

I watch as He turns my question upside down, answering question with question. “What does it mean to be selfish?”

I pause. “Me at the center.” And I see it. Where Jesus calls, following Him is never selfish. If He asks me to come and be still, my insistence on meeting the needs of others may be more selfish – may contain more of me – than my letting go and responding to Him. Serving when I should be resting may be as self-centered as resting when He calls me to serve.

My two dimensions – me and others – shift into three. It’s He who is at the center, He who must remain there, always the focus of my attention. Forever the one who calls.

Sometimes He invites us to listen as He speaks with His Father, to learn to pray with Him. Sometimes He calls us into the crowds to share His work, healing the sick, proclaiming freedom, opening blind eyes. Sometimes to the mountain to soak up His teaching.

And sometimes He asks us to be with Him in the garden, to feel His agony, share His suffering for the world around us. Then, stretched to our limits, eyes heavy with grief and fatigue, we may feel we’ve been sent, not summoned, our deep longing for rest and communion unheeded. Only later, as we see His scarred hands, do we glimpse the awesome truth. He wanted us there with Him in the intensity of His suffering. He chose to open to us that most vulnerable part of His soul. The scars we bear mirror His deeper wounds, tokens of the privilege of entering this place in His heart.

From wherever He stands, always the call is the same. “Come closer.”

He reaches for my hands again, hands that are still full. What to do with it all? I can’t just put it down. There are hearts at stake. “Give it to Me.”

Can I trust Him with it?

Will I trust Him with my longing for stillness when He asks me to share the intense demands of His work? And will I trust Him with my responsibilities when He invites me to step aside for a time?

Jesus, let me hear Your call to me in this moment. And help me to trust You enough to give You what You ask for, to let you empty my hands so You can take them in your own and draw me to Yourself. I want to come closer.

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