Who’s THAT?? My cousins and I were enjoying a family reunion at our favorite picnic grove nestled in a cluster of trees near our grandparents’ farm. There was much laughter and chatter going on as the adults prepared food and the kids played on the see-saw and swings. There were horseshoes to toss, and with an adult’s permission, an old hand water pump to operate.
Suddenly, activity stopped as a flashy car pulled up and a very handsome young man stepped out of the car and began greeting family members. Who was this Dash RipRock? My cousins and I strained to see facial details of the stranger as we followed him from a safe distance so as not to look too forward or ridiculous. He was pure class. What a car! What a guy! What a…cousin?? Really? Yes, he was our oldest first cousin. I don’t remember ever seeing him before, but even as a little girl I knew I’d never forget how tall and good-looking he was. Did I say crush? Yes, instant crush on this distant relative. My cousins and I were smitten.
A distant relative is one we are unlikely to encounter in normal life. Most of us don’t know our third or fourth cousins, and when we start removing them, as in “third cousin twice-removed, second cousin twice-removed,” family lines get complicated and blurred. It’s fascinating to learn that between fourth and sixth cousins there are potentially in excess of 200,000 distant cousins on average (www.census.com) That’s a lot of potential Dash RipRocks!
Dash (not his real name) was my first cousin, and I had never spoken to him before the reunion. Honestly, I don’t remember talking to him that day either. I was too timid and star struck to have made any sense. I’m sure I would have tripped over my shoelaces if I’d attempted communication.
To this day, I still don’t know Dash. Perhaps I’ll Google him and see if a connection can be made. Most of my shoes are slip-on, so shoelaces wouldn’t be an issue. I wonder if he knows the Lord? He is considerably older than me, and maybe he has passed on. If so, I hope he’s in heaven where once and for all of eternity I can get to know him. My distant relative could be brought near to me.
The Lord longs to be near to us, and when we take time to talk to Him and be with Him, He comes close to us. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you, James 4:8 tells us. Just because we can’t see Him doesn’t mean He’s not there. Just because He doesn’t pull up to our home in a flashy car and leap out at us doesn’t mean He isn’t right beside us, in our homes, and very much aware of our every move. “Am I a God near at hand,” says the Lord, “And not a God afar off?” (Jeremiah 23:23 NKJV).
Sometimes He IS far off. Sometimes the Lord is distant. Psalm 138:6 (NLT) records, Though the Lord is great, He cares for the humble, but He keeps His distance from the proud. Actually, James 4:6 says that God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
So He becomes like a distant relative—far off and seemingly unattached. My own pride and lack of communication with the Lord can cause distance in our relationship. I love all my cousins, but I know some better than others. The more I talked to them over the years since childhood, the better I knew them and the deeper our relationships grew. Some of my sweetest conversations are with the cousins who stood gawking with me at Dash that day. They are not distant relatives, but close friends and prayer partners today.
Is God distant to you? It’s a daily question to ask because our lives are a daily walk with Christ. I woke up this morning singing, how Great is our God, sing to Him, how great, how great is our God! After that I simply put my thoughts before Him and started talking to Him. I placed a burden into His capable hands and asked for His help today in whatever I do and say. Simple, honest conversation with my Savior and Friend, and I didn’t even have my face on yet!
That’s how we sense His nearness. That’s how He never, ever becomes a distant relative. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.
© 2022, Chris Werre