He Will Hold Them Close

“Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” Psalm 27:10

Field Story by Charlie James, India

It had been a year after moving to India, since my wife and I had seen our families. We anxiously exited the airport terminal and were met with a warm welcome. Our joy was the result of being with eyesight of each other. There were many hugs and kisses, as we made up for lost time. My Mom gripped my hand as we walked to the car, and I held tightly to my Dad’s. Video calls are wonderful, but there is nothing like proximity to someone you love.

Consider the prodigal son parable.  When the son was still quite far away, the father ran to him, threw his arms around him, and kissed him.  To the father, the time it would take the son to reach him was too long, and he ran. Despite the actions the son had taken, the father couldn’t wait to hold him close.

Although Indian culture isn’t known for its physical affection, the children on campus still hope for it. When they participate in a school dance or have a part in a play, they will ask, “Are you coming to my school?” If we are having a meal at one of the homes, many will say, “Charlie, please sit next to me.” They desire closeness.

The reason God can hold me close, is because of what Jesus did.  If it weren’t for Him, I would still be in my sin. On the cross Jesus cried out, “My God!  My God! Why have you forsaken me?” For the first time, He was experiencing separation from God, so I could be forgiven and seen as righteous.  He lost the proximity of closeness, and now I could receive it. 

If ever I don’t feel the closeness of God, it’s because I’m not aware just how close He is. Jesus was found with the sinner, the prostitute, and the tax collector. He shared meals and conversation with them. He didn’t allow sin to create a barrier between Himself and His children, but sometimes we do.  

Jesus values holding us close, and I need to do the same.  Closeness is not a reward and removing it is not a punishment. He never removes His presence, and presence is something I can give generously. We all want to be held close, because it is a sign of deep love and intimacy. When we experience it, it is a taste of heaven.

Think about the story of the Prodigal Son. The father is our Father – refusing to wait even one more second to embrace His wayward child. It may be difficult to grasp, the Savior desiring proximity with children who struggle to “get it right.” But, He does. As His children, we experience His love and kindness. Nothing will soothe lingering doubts, ongoing frustrations, or feelings of unworthiness like the Father’s presence. 

Our Heavenly Father chased after us while we were in sin and thought were knew a better way. Once we are His child, we are always near Him, even when our emotions say otherwise. When we fall short, we may think distance is necessary, but He doesn’t want to punish us by removing his presence. He is always ready for us to accept being held near.  

  1. Think of a time where you created distance between yourself and God. What led you to make this decision? How did God remind you distance isn’t the answer?
  2. Describe the moments that you have felt most intimate with God?
  3. Who in your life has modeled for you unconditional love?