“Be near me, Lord Jesus
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me, I pray
Bless all the dear children
In Thy tender care
And fit us for Heaven
To live with Thee there”
Be near. Stay close. Love me. I want to always be with you.
Children have this down pat. Not just the simple Christmas hymn, “Away In A Manger,” but the main points in the last two verses of the song. Children ache to be near those they love. Once they are there, they just want to stay. As they sit on your lap or hold your hand, they are silently asking to be loved. When they are assured of your love they do not want to leave.
As adults, and especially in America, we are instructed to be independent, and self-sufficient. We enjoy spending time with people we love, but where is that longing to stay? We are afraid of ‘overstaying our welcome’ or thinking about the next thing to be done that day. We want to be loved, but are often too proud or insecure to show those around us how much we do need to be loved.
“Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” ~ Matthew 19:14
Where did not just our dependence, but longing for God go? Are we too proud or too scared to realize the true need we have of Jesus being near? You see, the “nearer” you are to a person, the better you are able to tell them if they have spinach in their teeth. The longer some “stays close by” the greater chance there is of them seeing your internal spinach. Oh, I mean, flaws. 😉 And love? Well love is accepting all the blemishes and choosing to see the best in you. Each of these things requires risk. But this is why Jesus came as a baby in that manger.
The King of kings and Lord of lords abandoned His heavenly thrown and entered earth, in a stable for heaven’s sake, and in the form of a human baby. As a human, Jesus was able to relate to us, and be as near to the human race as He possibly could – by lowering Himself to become one of us. Yes, Jesus remained fully God, but somehow someway, he was fully human too (yet without sin).
Although Jesus has long sense returned to His rightful home, enthroned on high, He is still very near. Jesus wants to stay close because He loves us. Because He loves us, He desires that we spend eternity with Him. When Jesus was born, He was nearer to us physically speaking in the way that you could touch him, see him and audibly hear his voice. As a man, Jesus was able to relate to us and understand personally and experience deeply the joys and sorrows life gives us. He was near with the twelve as they lived life together. He laughed with friends. He reached out and touched the sick. Jesus came to earth to be near to us. But 2,000 years later, Jesus’ nearness is still here.
One of my love languages is physical touch. I concur with people who say they would love to have Jesus have skin on again. I mean, a hug from the Son of God?!? That would be the best. A friend of mine made a good point relating to the nearness of Jesus and this common desire. Some ladies mentioned how cool it will be in heaven asking people; “What was it like to walk with Jesus on earth?” I will never forget her response. Without skipping a beat she said, “They’ll ask us, what was it like having the Holy Spirit living inside of you?!?” You see, for those of us who truly believe, the Lord is always near.
The nearness and closeness of Jesus is something many Christians desire. It’s something this Christmas season I especially am longing for. We won’t receive a “hug from Jesus with skin on.” But you may recently or in the past truly sensed the presence of the Lord. It is however, important to remember that even with or without ‘sensing,’ Jesus is always near – because the Holy Spirit has been promised to us.
So, to experience the joy of Jesus presence this Christmas, here are some thoughts. I truly believe all of these are examples in how the nearness and closeness of Jesus is felt in our lives.
Do we delight in His presence? Do we take the time to be still and know that He is God? Do we pause when we pray and actively listen? Do we get absorbed reading Scriptures and sigh when we put the book down? Jesus is near to us. All we have to do is open our hearts and invite him to enter our space. Ask him to stay. Humble yourself like a child and don’t be afraid to ask to be loved.
The final verse reminds us that we are His Children, and as such God will bless us – even when those blessings come in disguise. And trusting Jesus as our Lord indeed fits us for Heaven. We can delight in the hope we have that we will be able to get that hug from Jesus, and spend Heaven in His presence.
May the nearness of Jesus fill your heart with comfort and peace this Christmas.