19th January 2018. I’m seated at the parking lot waiting for the clock to tick 2pm. I can't believe I have a 3 hour class to sit through, let alone on a Friday afternoon. I've been down with gastroesophagal reflux (kinda just a big word really. lol) and hyperacidity since Sunday and I feel rather lethargic on top of feeling disappointed that I was rather ineffective through the week due to the illness. It's a fast moving life, always chasing against time. Sickness is such a bummer.
Amid a reflective moment, I'm drawn to look to my back left, at the sound of rather inharmonious choral singing. There's a group meeting at the school chapel. A deeply sentimental attachment to the place creeps over me, like it does every time I pass by there. Regardless of the clashing harmonies, I can sense they're having a beautiful moment. If not yet, they're in for one. I think so because my earliest memories of my personal times at the chapel are still so green. That chapel is, to me, an unforgettable haven. Well, not because of the chapel really, but well…you know Who.
Welcome to these streets.
“The Lord is near to all those who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.”
God is not as far away as the furthest star. He is as near as your next breath, your next heartbeat, your next blink. So close and so warm; with you in every single moment. Acts 17:27 says it; He is not far from any one of us. But we are quite naturally feeling-oriented and so when we cannot feel His nearness, then we doubt it. God is matchlessly constant and consistent and not one bit of our feelings can alter that reality. He doesn’t promise a life without storms, but He promises to be there always.
Kenyatta University City is darn huge. Conversance with a new place within is often influenced by an actual need to know the place, or idleness. A couple trips to our laboratories had me noticing the school chapel. I once heard one of my classmates talk about the corporate prayers that happen on specific days and times of the week. He invited me. Well, I didn’t get to go but I had it in mind that the chapel was ever open for anyone who wanted to pop in and say a prayer, as he mentioned further into the conversation. I resolved to do so some time.
The very first time I made my way through that door happened to be literally one of the hardest days of my life; last year in April. My life had been gradually falling apart before my face, my family had been so much shaken and my beloved grandfather ZK had just rested after a short battle with illness. May his soul rest in perfect peace. And yet I had to be in school – CATs were in session and I wasn’t sure I was willing to defer a semester since school was literally the ONLY thing that seemed to be working in my life at that time. School was also my escape, because every second of my time at home reminded me that I wouldn’t ever see grandpa again. Seeing my sweet Mom in deep pain was also shattering whatever pieces of my heart I had left. I also hadn’t gotten the chance to mourn. I was literally at my wits end, despair plastered on my face and lounging in my heart.
I walked into that door in all my brokenness into the arms of my Father. There, in my darkest of moments, I experienced the nearness of God in a heavier way than I can describe. And there, in His still small voice, He whispered, “I am near.” I will never forget.
And so, as I sat there, squinting towards the chapel against the sharp rays of the midday sun that Friday afternoon, one thing rang loud, deep and true – GOD IS NEAR. And I had to remind you.
We all hurt. Life throws a tad lot of curve balls even to the best of us. Children of God have for thousands of years poured out their laments, fears and questions to God, sometimes on their sick beds, other times smack in the middle of a heavy financial stronghold, in the rubble of heartbreak, deep in the clutter of frustration and rejection, in the face of betrayal as a friend proves a foe, dealing with unexpected messes and losses, while all hope seemed to have vanished. Jesus said it, that we would go through trials, and true to this, our hearts can only truly rest when we come into relationship with the Overcomer of the world.
“The Lord is near to the broken hearted, He saves the crushed in spirit.”
The next time a dark cloud hangs over you, ready to send a heavy gush on your life, remember, GOD IS NEAR. When the hot tears sting your eyes, even dimming your vision, remember, GOD IS NEAR. When no single microsecond of existence makes any sense anymore, remember, GOD IS NEAR. Just knowing that is not only comforting, but also liberating; for truly He did not lie when He said that the battle is not your own. If you think you are far too gone, He redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with faithful love and compassion (Ps 103:4). Our flesh and heart fail. Our strength and understanding can get unbearably weak and limited but He is great, vast in power and His understanding is limitless.
So it all brings us back to One place – God. Sometimes it’s in the foggiest of places that we see the clarity of Who God is. To me, the Lord’s nearness means close access; I don’t have to strain and cover extents to reach to Him because grace bridged the gap. It means He knows me – I am one guarded person, but the heights of God’s nature reach far above my walls and into every grain of my life. It means that I am loved and His love strengthens me. It means that I don’t have to bit about the bush regarding my thorns and stings; because He doesn’t nearly understand, instead, He is near in understanding – He gets me. It means that He doesn’t miss any tear that falls, he never sleeps through my high days nor slumbers through my deep groves. And in the words of David….
“But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.”
His nearness keeps me fresh and I celebrate it today in a very personal way, with this piece. I hope it serves as a good reminder to you as well.