Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). (Matthew 1:23). And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20).
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’. (Acts 17:26-28).
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8).
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” (Revelation 21:3).
Perhaps the greatest news of the Christian story is that God has come from his high and lofty place down to us. The core message of the gospel is not that we must ascend to God through religious duty. The good news is that God has descended to us, by grace and mercy.
Centuries before Christ was born, Isaiah prophesied about one who would be called “Immanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” Thus, when Jesus was born, Matthew immediately made the connection from prophecy to fulfillment. Jesus had come, God was with his people. What a miracle to behold!
But the news gets better for us. Because Jesus has ascended back to the Father, we possess treasure greater than even having Jesus sitting next to us—the Holy Spirit living within us. Jesus promised his followers as he left that he would be with them always. How? Because the Holy Spirit would come to live in them.
Contrast this with how you feel most the time. Do you feel like God is with you? Or, do you feel as though he is far off? However you feel (because feelings can be deceiving), you and I and all who follow Christ should rejoice at this: God is near! He is not far. He isn’t like the absentee father who just works all the time, never having time for us. He is near to us. Does he feel far? Then do what James says. Draw near to him in prayer, in the Scriptures, and in worship. These are channels of grace—of the very presence of God in our lives.
The nearness of God is our future. The fall broke our closeness to God. But, when God makes all things new, we will be with him. Together, forever. We will be with him in still a measure greater than we are now, and he will be with us.
So what does this all mean? It means that no matter how you feel, what you think, or what your day is like, God is never too far away. He is not far from any of us. We simply must turn (repent) and see him (ask).