When life feels overwhelming, our spirits long for communion with God. So how do we grow closer to God when the world is thrown into chaos. How do we build a relationship with God when we feel stressed and overwhelmed?
I thought I knew stress, then came March 2020.
I had finally organized my life in a way that my goals seemed feasible. Even after months of stalling I was on my way to better physical health, increased focus on my passion projects, and quality quiet time with God. Then in rushed a season of uncertainty, changes, and if I’m honest anxiety.
This isn’t a post about the global pandemic that has found its voice in every segment of our world’s media outlets. I refuse to give it any more power. This is about the bit of hope I’ve found as I have wielded this mandated isolation and intentionally quieted my life. The short version of this post is this: the answer to getting closer to God is Jesus.
When I started this year, I set the intention to allow the phrase “uncomfortable faithfulness,” to guide my decisions. I made plans to do the multitude of things that God had called me to in the past.
I was focused on all the things. I wanted to be everything to everybody. I was worrying about everything except the one thing that fueled my faith. I didn’t realize that I had slipped into a pattern of checking off good things to combat the fact that I wasn’t pressing into Him.
Have you been there? Busy for the sake of being busy. Busy, to avoid being quiet?
In Luke 10:41 Jesus tells Martha, a woman very busy doing good things but missing the best thing, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed.”
We are called to focus first on what’s important, and during chaos, that’s growing closer to God.
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What does the bible say about getting closer to God?
WE NEED THE QUIET. It is ingrained in our DNA that we find space to simply be in God’s presence. His initial design, displayed in the garden of eden, was humanity and God walking alongside each other. Our only focus on His presence. Interestingly enough through all the mess that is March 2020, that is exactly where we find ourselves.
For reasons we wish were different, we have been given the opportunity to practice our faithfulness. With no other option, we have been given time to sit in quiet and accept the gift of peace and rest that the Lord offers in His presence.
In Mark 6:31 Jesus offers the same to his disciples,
“And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while. ‘For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.”
This and other bible verses about growing closer to God are clear. When we draw near to God, he draws near to us. This doesn’t mean that he is far away either. It means that our father, who is a true gentleman, will not force himself on you. Instead, he will love on you and wait for you to look for him, and when you do, you will realize he was there all the time.
What happens when you draw near to God?
There are many benefits to getting closer to god. When we seek God he shows himself everytime. When he shows himself, and we see just how present he is in our lives, we begin to see transformation in how we see the world and how the world sees us.
Some of the benefits of drawing near to God include:
- Peace from the worries of the world
- Rest from our weariness
- Joy unspeakable
- Power and Love
- Sense of Purpose
- Direction and Guidance
Our lives are made completely better when we draw near to god. When we spend time in his presence and and find different ways to grow our faith, we are able to live the life he planned for us.
How can I have a closer relationship with God?
When we think of building a relationship with God we often think of grand gestures like missions trips, or becoming a pastor. These are all excellent ways to serve God but getting to know him and growing closer to him doesn’t not require the same magnitude.
The best way to think about growing a relationship with God is to think of how we build our earthly relationships. When there is someone you desire to get to know better, you spend time with them. You ask them questions. You do things together.
This is the easiest way to understand what building a relationship with God is like. It requires time and commitment. When you put in these things, your relationship will blossom.
Here are a few ways to grow your faith and spend more quality time with God.
1. Meditate on God’s Word
The bible is the living word of God. It holds God’s direction for us, his heart towards us, encouragement for the struggle and so much more! Its more than a historical account of his greatness. It is a real-time guide for daily living!
The Word of God is our love letter from him and tells us what he thinks of us, and who he is. Building any relationship involves learning about one another. God already knows so much about us, we can grow closer to God by reading his word and learning more about him.
I’ve found bible study to be one of the easiest ways to keep my mind focused on him in the midst of the uncertainty of the current season. When the world seems to be falling apart, I simply close out the world and tune into His word. I open my bible and find hope! If you are currently facing fear or anxiety, check out these powerful scriptures to help combat fear.
2. Prioritize Prayer
One of the best quiet time with God ideas is to get before the father in prayer (even if its colored with children’s voices or suddenly all day face to face time with your spouse 😊)! God simply asks us to draw near to him. Because of this, praying can come in many forms.
I personally love journaling my prayers because it focuses my intention and allows me to have my own praise and testimony history. I can go back through my prayers and see how far God has brought me in real time! Seeing God’s hand in my life allows me to grow closer to God. Relationships are built when time is spent. If you are unsure how to start a prayer journal or need some ideas, here’s a guide to starting a prayer journal.
3. Give Thanks
Living with a grateful heart is one way to begin to train your mind to see God in everything. As we practice gratitude and praise him for his faithfulness our hearts begin to lean into him more. Offering our thanksgiving to God allows us to refocus on the good things he has provided for us, and see his hand more clearly in everything around us.
One amazing way to add more gratitude into your life is with the Joyful Living Toolbox by One Exceptional Life. This toolbox is for women who are struggling with fulfillment and are looking for reminders that through faith, gratitude and kindness, you can overcome anything.
The toolkit features:
- 7 days of Gratitude Journaling Pages
- 100+ Gratitude Prompts
- 2 Blessings pages
- 30 Printable Scripture cards
- 5 Scripture coloring pages
- 5 Scripture journal pages
- 24 biblically based affirmation cards
- And so much more!
Check out the Joyful Living Toolbox here!
4. Confess and Repent
Oftentimes our closeness with God is directly related to our perceived worthiness. Our worthiness, however, has nothing to do with us and everything to do with Jesus. None of us are worthy to direct access to the father and yet, he sent Jesus to die on the cross for our salvation. Because of Jesus, we have access to God and the riches of heaven. When we sin, we are reminded of this unworthiness, but worse, the enemy attempts to use this to drive a wedge between us and God.
Confession and Repentance is our key to righting our wrongs. When we confess and repent, the shame and guilt of our sins can no longer bind us to the world and the enemy can no longer hold our transgressions against us.
5. Spend time in worship
Can you name a song that ALWAYS gets you when you are in church service? Are you thinking of that one song that seems to move you immediately into the presence of the Lord? Why not replicate that feeling daily. Try blasting a new worship CD or check out one your favorite worship artist on youtube. Listen to the words, recite them, sing them out and feel the Lord’s presence wash over you!
Grow Closer to God during Chaos and Uncertainty
We get to choose what comes out of this season. Whether it is a builder of our fear or our faith we have the opportunity to reset our old ways of doing things are realign ourselves to the Father’s plans for us!
When we choose to draw near to God, the uncertainty of the time and the chaos around us seems to dim. When we focus on God’s presence in our lives, we are reminded of the truth that when Jesus overcame the world, he overcame everything. That means that the uncertainty and brokenness around us are momentary. Victory is ours.
Do you have additional ways to combat the stress and seek God? Share them in the comments below!