But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge.
— Psalm 73:28 (NIV)
Last fall, my husband and I sold our home of twenty-one years. We loved our almost-100-year-old house and all its charm, yet for various reasons it no longer suited our needs. After a short search, we counted ourselves lucky to find a newer, more up-to-date house that provided a better fit for us right in the same community. We were delighted and looked forward to moving into our move-in-ready house. And then ... well, you know what comes next.
Without benefit of furniture and wall hangings, it was clear the house needed some new carpeting and a fresh coat of paint. After two weeks, we discovered the bathtub leaked into the basement. When we tried to shut off the plumbing valve, it wouldn’t turn in either direction. During the next rain, it became apparent the gutters were clogged. The overhead fan in the bedroom wouldn’t turn on. We had hired an engineer to inspect the house prior to signing the purchase agreement, and he had declared it a good house. It certainly looked like a good house and for a moment. I wondered, Had we all been fooled by the home’s outward appearance?
Ultimately, no. The engineer had declared it a good house, and it was a good house. Yet, even the best of things need proper and constant upkeep. So it is with our spiritual life as well.
Sometimes life rolls along just fine. Our job is steady, and we are up to date on our bills. We feel fit and strong. The new car drives like a dream. The kids are even getting straight A’s in school. We go to church, pray, read scripture, and maybe volunteer in the Lord’s service. Then ... well, if you’re like I have been at times, we get comfortable. Perhaps we skip a church service now and then or maybe put our Bible away and “forget” to pick it up again.
My life was rolling quietly along when I was fired from a job, encountered unexpected and costly repair bills, lost several family members in a one-year span, and faced illness myself. Only by the strength of God did I get through these trials and emerge stronger. Keeping up with our spiritual practices will not stop any of our earthly troubles from visiting us. Earthly troubles are just part of the human condition. But here is the good news: maintaining our spiritual practices keeps the tools we need to overcome such challenges right at our fingertips. God is always with us. God claimed us while we were growing in our mother’s womb (Psalm 22:10), engraved us in the palm of God's hand (Isaiah 49:16), and knows all the hairs of our head (Matthew 10:30). God will never forget us or neglect us. However, when we remain in daily prayer and study of the Word, and surround ourselves with a strong faith community, we stay closer to God. God feels more accessible, our faith and confidence is stronger, we are less tempted to give in to fear and anxiety. We forge ahead and don’t give up. And then ... with God’s help, we get through.
Don’t get lulled into complacency — don’t be fooled. Let us always take time to stay close to God.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
— John 16:33 (NIV)
PRAYER: Dear God, thank you for being my loving Heavenly Father. May I always remain as close to you as a faithful and trusting child. Amen.
Monica A. Andermann