The Book of James: Draw Near

Take me back.
Take me back to the place where the fullness of joy can be found, no matter the circumstances.
Bring my heart back to the place where fear does not cripple, define or motivate me.
Carry my mind back to the place of confidence and security.
You have set me free and I will remain steadfast.

Take me back.
No more pretending, no more empty words, let me walk authentically.
Let the cry of my heart be surrender.
Surrender to Your truth and freedom.

Let me love like You love,
Let me live like You lived,
Let mercy and life be on my lips.
Let me remember who I am because of who You have always been.
Faithful, unwavering Love.
— Poem by Rachel Joy adapted from the Sparrow 2017 Promo Video

 

I remember the day she gave it to me. It was like a treasure. I had never seen anything so beautiful in my ten years of life. Ruby red stones set on gold plated metal- my great grandmother’s cherry broach was finally mine. I must have looked at it a thousand times in her small jewelry box located in the corner of her room. As I rubbed the shiny crimson stones that day, she leaned over to me and said, “It’s yours. Take special care of it.”

I loved visiting her in the nursing home. Her room always smelled of cold cream and lemon drops. Hattie Neimeyer was full of life, and I suppose I loved the broach an extra measure because it was hers. It was my piece of her.

I remember the day I lost it. Over time, the broach no longer had the same luster, and I dropped it in my desk drawer for “safe keeping,” only taking it out occasionally. One day, I went to find the broach to put it in a new jewelry box I received for my birthday, but it was gone. I immediately had a pit in my stomach. I realized that I had not done what my great grandmother had told me to do. I hadn’t taken care of it. My mom, like all moms do, said the phrase that all children dread but know to be wise, “retrace your steps.” It is sad to say, although I retraced my steps, I never found my great grandmother’s broach.

At Sparrow 2017, we will be studying the Book of James. James wrote to Jewish Christians in the “Dispersion.” As you read through James, you will see that these men and women had faith in Jesus but somehow through trial and doubt their faith had become idle. They relied on worldly wisdom, they heard the word but did not do it, they showed favoritism, they judged others over extending mercy, and they used their tongues to tear apart rather than to build up. James was calling these men and women back to a genuine, practical faith. In essence, they needed to retrace their steps and take a long hard look at the current state of their hearts and actions.  How had it gotten this far? How were they going to shed the layers of sin and doubt to uncover the genuine faith they had been given?  However, as children of God, retracing our steps is unlike the story about my great grandmother’s broach in that we find that what we were looking for was never lost at all. As saved and redeemed children of God, we are always His children, secure in His everlasting love and grace. We find as we retrace our steps, God has been with us all along.

James says this simple phrase in chapter 4 verse 8, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.”  In the following verses, we learn that the act of drawing near involves us submitting ourselves to God, resisting the enemy and the world, cleansing our hands, purifying our hearts and humbling ourselves.  Our hope at Sparrow 2017 is to actively draw near to God. You see, innate within all humanity is a desire to draw near or connect deeply to someone or something. We were created this way. What are the things that you have drawn near to recently? Whether you are actively pursuing God or in a season where you have distanced yourself from Him, His desire is for you to commune with Him- to remember the joy of your salvation and walk out a genuine faith. If you do not know Jesus, His desire is the same- that you would commune with Him because in Him is everlasting life and joy. Jesus made a way for this broken, dying world to be healed and connected to a Father who will never waver in His love for us.


What a joy it will be to draw near to God together with hundreds of other women at Sparrow 2017!