My dog, Cubbie, is a high energy, alpha female that weighs about 38 pounds. Too big to pick up and carry. She is a sweet love, and will come and beg for you to pet her. If she wants more, she will put her nose under your hand and flip it back onto her head or back, but when you quit and she is satisfied, she goes away from you, spins 3-4 times until she plops down with a grunt and goes to sleep. My daughter has recently come home from college. She brought her small, very cuddly dog, Tuffy, with her. Tuffy would rather be held and cuddle than spend any time on his own. Cubbie sees the small one getting hands-on affection and loving attention, and Cubbie is learning this behavior. She will now put her paws up on us to get our attention (not crazy about that new habit), and she has learned to cuddle (which I love)! She will now occasionally come curl up next to us, or lay her head on our arm and doze off. It makes me wonder if we too can learn loving behavior.
Cubbie had love for us, already, but she didn’t need or desire physical closeness. Seeing Tuffy get extra attention and lap time seems to have given Cubbie enough desire to want to change. So she has. There are so many people who have faith and love for the Lord, but they don’t want to exert the effort necessary for a closer relationship. They don’t see the need for church attendance, accountable community or meaningful Bible study. What if those people actually saw a difference in the peace and joy of those who spend purposed time working on a closer relationship with Jesus, would they be willing to also be intentional with those things in hopes that they too could experience the same filling relationship with their Savior? If they would make a move toward their Savior, they would know a joyful closeness that fills and satisfies like nothing else!
James 4:8 says “draw near to God and He will draw near to you”. This is not a physical proximity, but rather a spiritual one. When Cubbie snuggles with me, I love it and I snuggle closer with her which she doesn’t seem to mind. With her learned behavior, it has brought me emotionally closer to her, too. As any circle happens, the more she draws close, the more she wants to, and so do I. Our relationship enjoys the fact that our love grows closer with each other’s desire for closeness. The difference with our relationship with the Lord is that He is always right with us, and has already poured all of His love out on us through His Son Jesus. When we train ourselves to learn to focus on Him, His presence and love become much more “felt”. He doesn’t force Himself on us, but rather waits for us to call on Him in prayer, to focus on Him in study, to fellowship with other believers for strength and encouragement in our journey with Him. Hebrews 12:1 says that in the process of learning to live closely with the Lord it may not be pleasant or natural for us, “yet to those who have been trained by it, afterward it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” If we draw close to the Lord, we enjoy the fruit of a close and intimate relationship with the God who desires to be closer to us.