Feeling the Distance

New Year’s may be one of my favorite holidays, but this year I feel like I tripped and face-planted into 2018.

In an ideal world, I like to clean my room, write out my goals, process the old year, and wake up on January 1 excited for a fresh start.

However, this year, between the craziness of holiday travel and a certain freezing trip to a certain tragic bowl game, I’m having a hard time even remembering that it’s 2018 already.

I find that holidays are an easy time to go off the radar. And even though I love getting away for a little bit to spend quality time with family, a sense of distance definitely creeps in when I’m removed from normal routines and friends.

Except that this year, instead of just taking some necessary time off the grid, I lost touch with the Lord too.

It’s no one’s fault but my own. I got lazy and selfish and just didn’t take the time to talk to Him or listen to Him.

Which leaves me stumbling into the new year disoriented and distracted and feeling the distance.

And I guess that right there is sin for you: promising rest but delivering separation. Offering satisfaction but creating barriers.

And the more I see the way things play out, the more it seems like the story of the Bible is the story of God pushing back that distance, of Him fighting for the closeness that He created us to enjoy with Him.

He is slow and measured, but His timing is always right, and as the chapters of time unfold, step by step He is taking back the relational territory that sin has stolen.

In the Old Testament, God was around us. When Jesus was born, God was with us. Now that the Holy Spirit has come, God is within us. And one day when we get to heaven, God will be fully united with us. No more distance or barriers or separation.

The ultimate goal was perfect communion. Total closeness. Pure, unadulterated relationship. Which is a game-changer for this productivity addict.

No matter how much He could do for us or how little we could do for Him, it was always about the relationship.

The characters of the Bible long for it. Moses’ request in Exodus 33 is to experience His glory. David’s desire in Psalm 27 is to dwell in His house. Philip’s request in John 14 is to see the Father.

And Jesus confirms it in John 17 by telling us that eternal life is knowing God. No more, no less. I’ve been so struck by that recently—that He Himself fulfilled all the promises He made about redemption and salvation.

Paul summarizes it nicely for us: “For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding ‘Yes!’” —2 Corinthians 1:20

All His blessings aside, His presence is always the answer.

He alone is the joy of the garden, the guide in the desert, the glory of the temple, the fulfillment of the prophecies, the hope of the sinner, the comfort of the believer, and the reward of the faithful.

The saga of history is straining toward one epic reunion, when all the longing and waiting is put to rest and the gap between us and God is closed forever.

So as I celebrate my own mini-reunions with Greenville and routine and friends, I want to return to the Lord with the same zeal. I want to close gaps and push back distance and be as real as real can be, both with Him and with the people I am blessed to know.

Haley Barinowski

Haley is a shameless Clemson fanatic who believes in dessert, Christmas lights, and throwing football. She loves good books, good pens, and good runs. She attends our Downtown campus.