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Wide Open Spaces: Beyond Paint-by-Number Christianity by Jim Palmer



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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Jim Palmer

Monday, November 1

God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.
—John 3:17


I often use Mapquest for getting directions. It requires you to identify your starting and ending location. If the information you enter for either of these is off, the directions won't be very helpful. 

For example, I live in Nashville but if I accidentally click TX instead of TN in the drop-down box of states for my starting location, the directions will be way off. A short drive of 16 miles across town becomes a major road trip of 625 miles.

The distance one must travel to get to God depends on your starting location.

From my starting point, the distance I had to go to God seemed
unattainable. For many years I held an image of a person I surmised God would finally accept and be pleased with. Fulfilling this image signified the place I needed to be in order to have a relationship with God or experience God's best for my life. 

To make this all manageable, I created a mental checklist of do's and don'ts to help me feel good about where I was with God. Instead, no matter how hard I tried, I felt like I should do more and didn't seem to be getting any closer to God.

Aristotle wrote, "The least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousandfold." If the underlying premise of our spiritual journey is that God is displeased with us, then we are less likely to come to him and freely receive what he wants to give. Our energies will be spent striving for God's favor.

"Grace" is not just some legal position that gets you off the hook in the courtroom of heaven. "Grace" also means that when you woke up this morning you were covered and smothered in the love of God before you did one thing.

What if our proximity to God is not a matter of distance but dependence? In other words, perhaps the mentality of striving to shorten our distance to God based on our performance is an erroneous starting location. What if there really is no separation between us and God, and our starting place is simply relying on this to be true?

The scriptures say nothing can separate us from the love of God. Jesus Christ revealed that the hands of God are not pointing in condemnation but are open to receive us and raise us up into a life of untold intimacy with God. If your directions to God are showing you have a long way to travel, you might have clicked the wrong starting location in the drop-down box.

God, thank you that there really is no distance between us. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.