My firstborn spent a semester abroad in his junior year of college. Like any mom who’s separated from her child, I knew the exact distance between him and me those months he was away. It felt like a million miles, but it was actually only 4,533, including one very large body of water. While he was away, we weren’t even on the same continent, and truthfully, I hadn’t expected the ache to be so overwhelming. Thankfully, our weekly chats on video eased the sadness and served to remind me that, in spite of miles and time zones, there was no distance between our hearts.
Every journey is marked by distance and terrain. Distance tells you how far you have yet to go, and terrain indicates how much effort it’ll take to get to your destination. When traveling, we know we will be separated from comforts and the people we know and love, and we plan accordingly. In preparation for a journey, we pack survival kits, emergency contact cards, and try to minimize the unsettledness we inevitably experience when we’re far from home.
It’s not so different with our spiritual journeys. Whether we feel distant from or in close proximity to the things that give us assurance can be the difference between journeying in fear and anxious striving, or journeying from a position of courage and confidence.
We were made for the latter in our walks with God—a journey that traverses seasons of life and the difficult terrain of our hearts. It’s a journey that finds its purpose when we receive the gift of salvation through Christ and live as a new creation the rest of our days until we see our Savior face to face. The promises recorded for us in the Bible testify that while the journey is not easy, we do not walk alone.
So why do so many of us feel distant and alone? Why do we so often allow ourselves to believe that the distance between the God who rescues us and our sinful hearts is vast, when Christ erased the miles, the distance, and the eternal separation sin causes . . . and brought us near?
Maybe that’s why the apostle Paul so clearly addresses the true state of a Christ-follower’s near-ness to God, and wrote in Romans 8:38-39, “I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any-thing else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Paul wouldn’t have spelled out all the ways we cannot be separated from God’s love if it wasn’t so easy to forget. As if death, angels, and rulers were not enough, Paul says “nor anything else in all creation” (read: nothing in all the world) is capable of removing us from the active love of God in our lives as believers.
Let that sink in for just a moment . . .
You are loved.
You are welcomed.
Nothing can get in the way of God’s love for you.
Not even you.
Not the government.
Not even your own mistakes.
God’s love is so limitless that no one can stop it.
My guess is that, like me, it’s much easier for you to remember the ways you’ve caused distance with God than to remember the ways God has bridged the impossible chasm with His love. That’s why Paul makes such a dramatic point about the inability for anything to remove you from God’s love.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul teaches that God secured our salvation by grace, and not because of our righteousness or religious acts. He shows that it was God’s love that fulfilled the law we are unable to keep. It was God’s love that rescued us, and it is God’s love that sustains us. As Christ-followers, we can’t walk, follow, or go anywhere with Jesus if we don’t first surrender to the love of God that makes our journey with Him possible in the first place.
How might you think differently about your relationship with God this day if you took to heart the words of this hymn writer?
The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell; it goes beyond the highest star, and reaches to the lowest hell. The wand’ring child is reconciled by God’s beloved Son. The aching soul again made whole, and priceless pardon won.
Does God still seem distant when you consider the distance He traversed to rescue you?
Without wonder and amazement for God’s love for us, we will continue to live as if we’re separated from our Father by millions of miles. Without recognizing the nature of God’s love, we’ll believe we’ve stayed away from church too long to darken the doors and take part in Sunday worship. We’ll assume we’re too far off His radar to even know His care. We’ll act as though we walk alone, far from home. Don’t believe these lies, friend. Instead, be amazed by the limitless love of God. As Samuel Rutherford so wisely said, “Believe God’s love and power more than you believe your own feelings and experiences. Your rock is Christ, and it is not the rock that ebbs and flows but the sea.”
Nothing can separate us from God’s love because His love doesn’t depend on us or our feelings. It’s limitless and unending, and is in perfect harmony with His goodness, mercy, and justice. It’s not fickle. He’s not holding out on us. We don’t have to worry for the other shoe to drop. Because God’s love for us is infinite, our security in Him is infinite. Let that truth usher total assurance and peace into your worry-torn heart. You and I get to choose right now to realign our hearts with the truth of His love for us. It’s deeper, wider, more extravagant than we know. God’s love has eradicated the distance between our hearts and His; we have a forever companion who will stay at our side through every step of life’s journey.
When we could not be home with God, Christ became God with us on this journey. God with us . . . home with us. The very gift of salvation is that we might walk with God, forever.
Excerpted from: Pilgrim. Copyright © 2023 Ruth Chou Simons (art and text). Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon 97408. www.harvesthousepublishers.com