Tate is our nephew on my wife’s side of the family. He’s almost two years old. There are two things/people that he cannot resist when in their presence: food and being in his Papa’s (grandfather) arms. Ideally he’d prefer eating food in Papa’s arms.
No matter what his Papa is doing, Tate makes it a necessity to be in his Papa’s presence. Sometimes, however, just his presence is not enough. He needs to be in Papa’s arms. Even if Papa is sleeping, grilling, eating, or holding a conversation, he will desperately do whatever it takes to be close to his Papa’s heart. He yearns for the attention of his grandfather.
My father-in-law’s (Papa) face lights up at every opportunity he has with Tate. He thoroughly enjoys Tate’s desire to be with him. He shows his grandson how to do things on his own, encourages him to try new things, and directs him when he makes mistakes. He enjoys eating, laughing, singing, and speaking with Tate in his arms as much as Tate does.
Tate, Papa, & Fear
However, there was one place that made Tate reluctant to follow his Papa – the swimming pool. He slipped at the edge of – and into – Papa’s pool. His mother and father were at the step catching him as soon as he plopped in. Though he was never in any danger, the splash, shock, and terror drowned him in an experience of being out of control. His fearful disposition toward the pool affected his reality of Papa’s love and protection.
Pleasure In God’s Presence
Like Tate, every Believer is privileged to be in the presence of our Heavenly Father. We are his children and have access to him through Jesus Christ (John 1:12). Though some earthly fathers may not enjoy the presence of their children, God’s door is always open for us to enter and rest in him.
God likes us and desires for us to be with him (Isaiah 55:3). We are the apple of his eye and he protects us from allowing our sin to destroy us (Psalm 17:8–9). He gives us only good things (Matthew 7:9–11; Ephesians 1:3–4). He enjoys holding us close to his heart (2 Corinthians 5:19).
He is wise – knowing exactly what we need to grow in holiness through his perfect discipline. And he encourages us to try new things and take risks – opportunities to trust him more (Hebrews 12:7–11; Acts 11:5–18).
Moments we feel close to God are sweet. But there are times he feels far from us. In those moments, we must not forget nor allow circumstances affect the reality of his presence and protection. Just because he feels far does not mean he is.
He never abandons us. But if we allow our doubt to remain, we will grow in hopelessness and despair. We will use – what seems like abandonment – as excuses for why we cannot trust God.
Longing For Him
But any excuse for doubting him is inadequate when remembering the truth of God’s character, love, and strength (Numbers 23:19; Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 29). God is always near. He does not abandon us (Acts 17:27). Life’s traumatic experiences attempt to separate us from the love of God, but his love is too strong for that (Romans 8:35–39).
So like Tate, when life’s traumatic experiences attempt to drive a wedge between God and us, we can be encouraged to cry out to our Father and long to be in his presence. That longing for the presence of God will grow into a longing to be nestled in God’s arms – close to his heart – abiding in his love (1 John 4:16). He will fulfill your desires.