June 20, 2021

The Nearness of God

Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near.

Isaiah 55:6
Who hath believed the tidings? Who?
Or felt the joys our words impart?
Gladly confessed our record true,
and found the Savior in their heart?
Planted in nature’s barren ground,
and cherished by our Sovereign's care,
There shall th’immortal Seed be found,
the Root divine shall flourish there.

See, the Desire of Nations comes,
nor outward pomp bespeaks him near:
A veil of flesh our God assumes,
a servant’s form he stoops to wear.
He lays his every glory by;
ignobly low, obscurely mean,
of beauty void, in reason’s eye,
the source of loveliness is seen.
 
This is the beginning of a 15-stanza hymn Charles Wesley wrote in 1739 on the theme of Isaiah 53. The point of both the hymn and the scripture it's based on is that God is found not only in beauty and pomp, but also in humility and pain. When Jesus speaks in the gospels, we hear God's words. When he heals, it is a miracle of God. And when he feeds the five thousand, we know God is feeding Israel in the wilderness.

But nowhere—not in the Bible, not in the history of the universe—has God been more present than in the crucified Christ. For, as Colossians 2:9 puts it, in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily. If we would seek God, we should begin our search at the crossroads of time and space, at Calvary. The crucifixion was a one-time event, yet it was as present in Genesis and in the Revelation as it was in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

How blest are we when we find God in the sunset or in a glorious anthem. But when neither nature nor pomp can do the job, let us look to the Crucified One, and there find the unimaginable love of the Creator of all things.
Prayer after thinking about today's devotion:
Great God, in Christ you call our name
and then receive us as your own,
not through some merit, right or claim,
but by your gracious love alone.
    We strain to glimpse your mercy seat
    and find you kneeling at our feet.
 Brian Wren (1975)

✙ 
After your own thanksgivings & petitions, close with the Lord's Prayer.

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