“Darling, if you want me to be closer to you…”

I never get tired of the hilarity and the absurd closeness of God. Try to picture this.  I have just come back from a mind-blowing week of listening to people who are movers and shakers in the Kingdom. (More on that later.)  My head and heart is like a whirring blender full of questions, resurrected dreams, and — numbness.


You heard me. Last week, I was so completely overwhelmed by the reality of God’s movement on the earth, so undone by the hugeness of God that my heart shifted into paralysis mode. I suddenly felt very, very small.  My efforts seemed so insignificant. My “risky” endeavors now seemed ridiculous and little.  Was I hearing from God at all? Did I have faith at all?

I told a friend at lunch yesterday, “One common theme from all the speakers was intimacy more than outcomes.”   Even my spoken revelation didn’t help me in this blurry moment. It did trigger a tough question in my spirit.

“Lord. Am I loving you well?”


The question surfaced in my spirit at the conference. Here in the quiet aftermath, it surfaced again.

“Lord. Am I loving you well?”

After my lunch, I asked the question out loud in private, as in, wanting Him to answer. I really wanted some grand ray of sunshine to pour down out of heaven, or an angelic chorus, or a neon sign. Anything. But nada. Nothing. Silence. And to be honest, His silence scared me.

All I could do was cry out to the Lord. So I spent the day praying, seeking Him.  As I was going throughout my chore list, I just kept saying the same thing:  “Touch me again. Tell me again you love me. I am listening. I will do whatever you want.”


So I reviewed my notes.  I tried to collect the stories I had heard at the conference. I worshiped and studied. Still, nothing. No response.

Finally, I threw up this simple prayer more out of frustration than faith:

“Jesus.  I believe everything you have ever promised me. I know you love me even if I don’t feel it. I am going to stand on the truths you have deposited. I am going to move forward in faith, with or without the warm fuzzies. I am not quitting. I stop comparing myself to others. I love you. No matter what.”

I buried my thoughts in my work for a little while. When it was time to pack up, I noticed this oddly familiar song over the intercom. I hadn’t heard that song since high school. Who is that? Seals and Croft? Wait, what are they saying?

Darling if you want me to be closer to you
Get closer to me
Darling if you want me to be closer to you
Get closer to me
Darling if you want me to love, love only you
Then love only me
Darling if you want me to see, see only you
Then see only me

The lady in the store looked at me funny when I busted out laughing. God knows that is one of the few albums I owned in high school. God knows I have hardly heard that song since high school. God knows how to capture my heart. Again.

 But trust me, I didn’t miss the instruction. Get closer to Me. Love only Me. See only Me.
That whole intimacy over outcomes revelation? That’ll preach. That’ll change your life.
I am still unpacking my heart and head. But this is a great guide. He is always, ever always, after my heart. And that is the model we are to follow. To be ever always after His heart.
It’s not the What that matters, it’s the Who. And when the Who is rightly placed, then the What falls into place. It’s not the great feats, signs and wonders, tremendous salvations, or heroic endeavors, that matter. It’s the Great God of Love being well loved by His people that matters. Those other things will follow.
Here is something the Lord told me on my last beach trip. “Jana, your obedience is precious to me. There are seeds I have planted in you that will only grow through your obedience.”  Sometimes “Yes, Lord” and “I love you” mean the same thing.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
    you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:16-17



An Invitation to Trust

My friend Toni unknowingly blew my head off one day when she was talking about obedience. She said, “We have a wrong thought about obedience. It is not a hard, mean thing.  It is kind of like when you were a kid and your dad or mom says, ‘Hey I am going to the store, you wanna come?’ ” 

It’s an invitation. An invitation to trust the One who is asking you to come along.

I have brewed on this conversation with my insightful friend for a long time now. Every time I hear Chuck invite one of the girls to go on an errand, the Lord takes my understanding a little deeper. Why does Chuck ask? He wants to have some one-on-one time. He wants to talk to them about something specific. He has a surprise for them. He just enjoys their company.

Rarely do the girls fire off these questions:
Where are we going?
How will we get there?
How long will we be gone?
How much will it cost?
How will I pay for this?
How am I supposed to do this alone?

You see, all they know and rest in is that their dad, imperfect but loving dad, has asked them to go somewhere. The details don’t really matter because it is about the two of them going on an adventure.

If you told them, “you have to go”, the reactions would be different wouldn’t they? That Self kicks up in a moment. And this is the beauty, and the scandal, of our free will choosing of God. Our perfect Loving Father has asked us to trust His leading, trust His way. Trust Him. Even when we don’t understand the details and we can’t foresee the outcome. Jesus said, “Follow me.” He did not say, “You have to follow me.” He invited them into an adventure. And even though His followers surely did not know the future, they saw in His eyes something they could not refuse.

Where are you chafing?  What are you fighting for or against?  Who are you fighting? And what if you just looked instead into the eyes of God?  What if you listened again to what He said, ‘Follow me’, and without throwing out a thousand rebuttals, you just trusted the Heart that was asking you to come on an adventure?

 9 Do not be like the horse or the mule,
       which have no understanding
       but must be controlled by bit and bridle
       or they will not come to you.
Psalm 32:9

Who Is Driving?

You already know that the Lord is hilarious. And He speaks everywhere all the time.  Well my God story this week is from a bathroom in Hot Springs, North Carolina.

We were making a pit stop on the way to our WGR Leadership Retreat and I saw an open Bible on the bookshelf next to the potty.  So since I was just sitting there for a moment (ahem)  I looked over to see where it was opened.  Oh, surprise, surprise: Psalm 23, where most Bibles are marked in funeral homes and the like. But I sensed the Lord telling me to read Psalm 26 because I love that one.  I quickly realized it was in the King James Version, and this familiar verse took on a whole new kick.

“Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.” Psalm 26: 2

When was the last time you prayed that? How much do we give the Lord permission to examine and prove us?  I don’t know about you, but the term “try my reins and my heart” really grabbed my attention.  Reins are what you use to direct, to lead, to guide, to stop or correct. Reins are how you drive a horse, a carriage, a life.

“Try my reins.” See if I willingly hand them over to You. Are they supple in Your hands from firm, loving use?  Are they easy to hold from lots of hours of good following and obedience? Or are they stiff and unused?  Have I been running wild without reins or direction?

What about my heart?  Do I do the same for my heart? Willingly hand it over? Trust You to hold and lead? Is it soft and following, or hard and balking when You apply  tender pressure?  And honestly, what is the difference between my reins and my heart?

It is the difference between my will and my affection.  It is one thing to say you follow God. It is another to love Him. It is one thing to “obey” out of fear, and quite another to “go with Him” out of pure adoration. Both the reins (or will) and the heart are what God is after. Wholeheartedly His.

Examine me, Lord. Test how I am living life with You. Gauge how I am allowing my life to be led. By You or by my own selfish ways. You are the God of my will. You take the reins. And hold my heart, Lord. Keep it warm, safe and soft in Your mighty right hand.  Heal me and make me fully yours. Amen.