Up Close and Personal
By Renee Swope

“’I will bring him near and he will come close to me, for who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?' declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 30:21b (NIV)

"This is not how I wanted to spend the weekend,” I grumbled to my husband. It was cold and I wanted to be inside enjoying our kitchen renovations and completing some unfinished projects.

Instead we were scraping paint. A few weeks earlier, I’d found a notice on our door from the neighborhood architectural committee informing us that our windowsills and front porch columns needed to be painted within 30 days, or we’d be fined. I was so humiliated!

Did our house look bad enough to warrant an official notice? Had they taken time to peek inside the windows and see our kitchen renovations? I defended myself to the “neighborhood police” who weren’t even there to listen.

We’d been so focused on improving the inside of our home that we hadn’t had time to work on the outside. Now I wondered if my neighbors had sat around a table talking about us in a meeting.

Humiliation turned to ranting when my husband got home. “These people need to get a life. There are 400 homes in our neighborhood. Plenty of them are in much worse condition. Anyway, how could they see our windowsills and front porch? We have large trees in our yard that block the view from the street. They must have come onto our property!”

To prove my point, I marched to the curb and announced that I could barely see the windows or columns. From a distance, the house looked fine. However, as I got closer I noticed the sun’s heat and cold winter winds had worn the paint thin.

What we thought would take hours turned into days. We spent the weekend on ladders scraping, sanding, priming and painting. The more we sanded and scraped, the more the paint peeled. It was worse than I thought and I soon realized that if we hadn’t done the repairs, the damage would’ve gotten worse. Eventually the wood could have rotted.

I thought about how our house looked fine from a distance. It was only when someone came near that they could see its neglected condition. I didn’t feel offended anymore that someone had come up close and gotten very personal. I felt thankful they cared enough to tell us.

As I painted and pondered, I noticed similarities between my home and my life. I, too, can look like I’m doing fine - from a distance. I, too, can get so busy focusing on one area of my life that I easily neglect another. And I need someone who is close enough to notice things I may not see and cares enough to tell me.

We all need up close and personal relationships. We all need others in our lives that see areas that need special attention. Yet, it requires transparency and trust, and that can be hard.

Having up close and personal relationships is a risk. What if others see our imperfections and use them against us? Isn’t it safer to perfect or protect the image others see by pretending “everything is fine” even if things aren’t?

That’s why the best place to start is with Jesus. He’s an up-close and personal Savior who creates a safe place for us to be real with Him, ourselves and eventually others. His life and His death prove that He knows us fully, loves us completely and accepts us unconditionally. In Jesus we find a safe place to let someone see the peeling paint in our hearts and the rotting wood in our lives.

So today let’s commit to spending time getting to know Him and inviting Him to know us. He wants to help us maintain the condition of our hearts so we can experience the fullness of His!

Lord, I want an up close and personal relationship with You - where I feel safe in being known completely. I want to be so secure in how You see me and love me that I can even risk letting others get up close and personal. Show me how, in Jesus Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Jesus?

Searching for Satisfaction CD by Renee Swope

Dear Jesus by Sarah Young

Just to Be Close to You – Read more about an up close relationship with God, and share your thoughts/questions on Renee’s Blog.

Application Steps:
Have you ever asked Jesus to be your personal Savior? If not, click here to find out how you can know Jesus.

If you have a relationship with Jesus, ask Him to show you an area of your life that needs some up close and personal attention.

How will I spend more time getting to know Jesus?

How can I develop transparency and trust with Him and others?

Power Verses:
“So you will be my people, and I will be your God.” Jeremiah 30:22 (NIV)

”He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;” Isaiah 40:11 (NIV)

© 2008 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

God has used you to speak great truth in this devotional, Renee. Thank you for encouraging us to all go to God and to be more transparent with Him.

It is sometimes easier for me to go to my earthly friends/family first with my joys, troubles, etc., but I've come to realize that their attempts to listen, help or understand often fall short or leave me feeling too vulnerable.

God is my only source of perfect unconditional love, understanding, strength, and help, and I'm learning that he IS a personal God, a faithful friend, a loving father, a wonderful counselor and so much more. The more I experience that, the easier it becomes to be transparent and honest with others about what God is doing in my life.

I'm so grateful for Proverbs 31 and how the Lord is using all of you to speak His truth to all of us. Thank you for being a willing servant and vessel of his love.

Blessings to you.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So many times I lament about my lack of close relationships with other women. I am notoriously bad at writing letters and keeping in touch, so it is certainly my own fault. That does not diminish, however, the impact of the feelings of isolation. But again and again, God brings me back to the place where He lets me know that He is a better friend than any I could find on earth. He wants me to remember that He cares for me; that He wants to hear from me; that He wants to shoulder my burdens; that He alone can fulfill me completely; that He can not only listen to my issues with my kids and husband and job and my own heart, but He is the only one who can do something about it! Thank you for reminding me of the constancy of God, and His deep desire to be my all in all.

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