I spend the morning doing the usual last minute things you do when you and your husband are on your way out of town for the week and your mom is coming to keep the kids alive. Well it’s not the kids you’re worried about. They’re now old enough so that, hypothetically, not too many things should go wrong.
It’s the dog. He’s a big baby. To be more specific: he’s your big baby. He is super attached to you. When you leave he refuses to eat and he pretends he has go out to relieve himself only to hide under the neighbor’s bush and refuse to come out until you come home.
So, yeah, it was a morning throwing out the old food from the refrigerator and doing last minute laundry folding and trying to shove that last jacket in case it rains into a too-full/too-small duffle bag. (I’m asking for a rolling carry-on for my birthday.)
And then the dog.
There was a lot of worry about the dog. Can my awesome father-in-law come and hang out with him until my mom comes? Will he take him for a walk to cheer him up? Can he give him a massage? Can I get the dog to understand what I say when I tell him I will, indeed, not be gone forever? Please eat. I will come back.
I love him.
But, now we are on the plane, and I can think straight, and I have been assured by my mom that the dog, really, is fine. So, I am finally writing what is on my heart to say to you. What is actually not lame but important:
You are the beloved. You are adored. You are worth fighting for.
Even if the opposite of this feels most real.
Even if you don’t know how to take the first step to believing this.
Even if you don’t know how to get close to God.
Last month (how did time go by so fast?) I promised I would share with you what practical things I do to fight for my own heart when God feels oh, so far away. It has been a season of hard things—and a season of blessing.
There is so much more to say. But for now, let’s start with a simple list.
Are you ready?
Ten Things to Do to Get Closer to God
- Get your eyes off of you. When we are focused on our own self—our problems, our issues, our worries, our fears—we forget to look at God. This is super hard to do, right? Particularly when we feel overwhelmed. Stuck. Alone. But we need to do this.
We need to keep the eyes of our heart on God. His abundance. His presence. Right here. Right now. So, be bold—and, even if you don’t feel like it, praise Him for His goodness. Praise Him for His love. Name His attributes and look up verses that remind us of who He is. Speak them aloud. Write them down. Declare their truth over yourself.
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge” (Psalm 91: 1-4).
- Confess to God your brokenness. Ask Him to show you how your heart is struggling. Be specific. Don’t hold back. Don’t worry about your words—how to communicate what your heart is saying.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts,
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139: 23-24).
Just say what is on your mind. Trust your heart. The Holy Spirit will guide you toward Him.
- Look at what He’s given. Ask God to show you how He has shown up for you in the past. Remind your own heart of His faithfulness, the gifts He has given you, the way He continues to press in. How has He healed you? How has He pursued you? How has He helped you?
This is a prayer He loves to answer.
- Listen to music that creates space in your heart for God. When we are stuck—when our mind knows that God is close, but our heart struggles to believe it and move toward Him, it can help to listen to music that opens up our heart to Him.
There are certain songs I turn to when I am lonely, when I am far away from my Father and I am desperate for Him to pull me close. They are songs that help my heart be receptive to the Holy Spirit. They usher Him in. They open up heart and mind and spirit to receive more of Him—more of all He has. Check out this playlist I pulled together, for you.
- Change your posture. Wake up. Get your body positioned to better receive the presence of the Holy Spirit. This might mean finding a place of quiet, of removing yourself from distractions. Do whatever it takes—physically—to help yourself be present to Him.
Get on your knees. Or stand up. Lie down. Or raise your hands. Dance. Or run. Walk. Or be still. Concentrate your whole self on thinking about who He is, how He loves you, how He is with you, how He never leaves.
- Let your imagination run beautifully wild. Picture yourself with Him—with Jesus, or with God, the Father. Invite in the Holy Spirit and give Him full access to your mind. Let Him open up your heart. Ask Him to show you a scene—just you and God or Jesus. Stay there.
What does He look like? What is He doing? What are you doing? Where are you with Him? How do you feel? Stay there as long as you can. Stay. Let him show you what it is He sees when He looks at you. Let Him love you. Let Him come.
- Do something different. If you normally sit down and worship—stand up. If you normally stand, sit down, kneel, or lie down on the floor. Tell your mind to get out of your own way. Let your body respond to your heart. It is telling it what to do to wake yourself up to God’s presence. Trust it.
- Just do it—(do what you love). This might mean finding beauty—immersing yourself in it. Or going on an adventure. Or resting and reading a book. You are created to experience God’s presence in a way that is unique to you. Invite in the Holy Spirit to steer you toward an activity that brings you joy—and, in that joy, helps you experience God’s presence. And then do it.
- Be a rebel. Go against what your mind is telling you is true about yourself, and about God, and about the world that is actually false. Our Savior has risen up against the lies about ourselves and about the truth of who God—and who our Savior—is. He rises up again and again, just as the lies sneak in again and again.
Jesus never forsakes us. He never leaves us. He knows our hearts and how we need Him. He knows the false messages of the enemy and entreats us to pray—activate the armor He has given us. I am currently spending time, with sisters, in this study, by Priscilla Shirer. We can’t be passive, sisters. We have what it takes to stand, to be bold, to send to the foot of the cross the lies that threaten to pull us under.
Break the agreements you have made with the enemy about who you are, and who God is. Then you will hear Him and see Him and move with Him more easily. You can read more about this here. Go.
- Accept healing.This is big. This is the beginning of our life with Jesus—the laying down of our old life for His. This deep healing is difficult to do on our own. God welcomes us into community with Him—and into community with Saints—so that we can help each other toward healing.
This pursuit of deep healing can mean counseling. It can mean sharing our stories and receiving healing prayer. It definitely means doing the hard (and usually painful but necessary and good) work of letting Jesus into the places where we have never let Him in before. We need to let Him transform our wounded, broken hearts and make them whole again.
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified” (Isaiah 61:1-3).
The plane is about to land soon. And the whole time I am writing I am listening to this album on repeat. God is close, sisters. He is in us. We, the beloved. We, the ones who are loved.
Let’s fight for our own hearts now. He gives us the tools. He will guide us deeper into Him. We are not alone in this fight.
Father, let us step toward you now. Let us see You. Let us hear You. Remind us how we are Yours. Let us live this day believing You are right here.
Sister, what are your thoughts about this list? What would you add? What practical steps do you take to get yourself in the presence of God? I can’t wait to learn from you.
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