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Ch. 3

Many people recognize that staying close to Christ is not just something they should do; it’s a sacred responsibility and a wonderful blessing. Still, a question plagues many believers: Is it really possible to always feel this connection, to live every moment in close friendship with the Savior? They see a few who seem to be so dedicated and spiritual and think that only these individuals can keep this precious bond strong all the time.

You might picture yourself in your daily life, bustling with the routine tasks and responsibilities that fill your hours, and wonder how this connection could possibly fit in. Can ordinary folks like us, wrapped up in the ordinary moments of life, truly feel this deep, constant connection to Jesus?

The idea of this relationship becomes more and more inspiring as we hear about others experiencing it, filling us with a yearning to feel it too. It’s as if a gentle voice is calling us, urging us to embrace this connection, and we would give anything to answer that call.

But sometimes, we feel small and frail in the face of such a profound relationship. Doubts creep in, and we might think that we need to be more faithful, more perfect, or more something to achieve it. It feels like a mountain we’re not sure we can climb.

Dear friends, you must understand that being close to Jesus is not just for the strong. It’s perfect for those of us who feel weak. You don’t have to do anything significant or be very holy before you can experience it. It’s simply about trusting Jesus to care for you, even if you can’t trust yourself. It is about relying on Jesus, who is entirely trustworthy.

Staying connected to Jesus is not something we have to work hard to earn. It is more about allowing Jesus to work in and through us. It’s about Jesus showing us the power of his love. All we need to do is let go, trust, and wait patiently for him to do what he promised.

Many Christians lack quiet trust and hope based on Jesus’s promise that he has a peaceful place for us. We often don’t fully grasp that when Jesus says, “Stay close to me,” he’s offering himself, the ever-watchful protector, with all his strength and love, as a living home for our souls.

He promises that his loving grace will always be stronger than our weaknesses, ensuring our safety and preventing us from being led astray. Many Christians think that our conversion and forgiveness are God’s work, but after that, it’s up to us to live as Christians and follow Jesus. We always feel like there’s work to be done, and even though we pray for help, we still think the task is ours. We often fail and feel hopeless, and this feeling of despair only makes us feel even more helpless.

But remember dear friend, it’s Jesus who invited you when he said “Come,” and it’s also Jesus who keeps you close when he says “Stay.” The grace that drew you close and keep you close are both from him alone. Like the word “Come” drew you close, “Stay” keeps you tied to him.

Listen carefully to Jesus’s voice. He says, “Your place is with me, in my powerful arms. I love you so much, and I say to you, ‘Stay with me.’ You can trust me.” When you genuinely listen to the voice of Jesus, your response will be one of trust and commitment: “Yes, Savior, I believe in you and will remain by your side.”

Jesus’ instruction to “Stay with me” is not an unattainable request but a compassionate directive embodying a pledge of love. Keep this in mind until all your fear and despair disappear, and when you hear about staying close to Jesus, your first thought is one of bright, joyful hope: This is for me, and I know I’ll experience it. Remember, you are not under a strict law that demands, but under grace that only asks you to believe in what Christ will do for you.

If you’re wondering whether there’s something for us to do, yes, there is. But our actions are just the result of what Christ is doing in us. When we fully rest in what Christ will do, we find the energy to act most effectively, knowing that he is working in us. When we understand that Jesus’s command to “Stay with me” manifests his love towards us, we are empowered to stay in his presence and maintain our connection with him.

The relationship between Jesus’s work and our own is perfectly described in Paul’s words: “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Paul knew that Jesus, powerful and faithful, had reached out to him to make him one with Himself. Because of this, Paul did everything he could to seize that fantastic goal.

The belief, the personal experience, and the complete assurance that “Christ has taken hold of me” gave Paul the courage and strength to keep going and seize the purpose for which Jesus had taken hold of him. Paul was driven to achieve nothing but greatness with each new understanding of Jesus’ grand plan for him.

The best way to understand Paul’s words and how they apply to our Christian lives is to imagine a father helping his child climb a steep cliff. The father is at the top, holding the child’s hand to help him up. He points to the place where he will help the child put his feet as he jumps up. The jump would be too high and risky for the child alone, but the child trusts the father’s hand and jumps to reach the spot the father has pointed to. It is the father’s strength that keeps him safe and lifts him up, and that is what motivates him to use all his strength.

Although you may feel weak and uncertain, this is the relationship between Jesus and you, dear believer. First, focus on the goal for which Jesus has reached out to you. He wants to lift you to a life of unbroken, close connection with him.

Everything you’ve already received—forgiveness, peace, the Spirit, and His grace—is a start. And everything you see promised for the future—holiness, productivity, eternal glory—is just the natural result of this connection. His ultimate goal is to be one with Jesus and the Father. Keep your eyes on this, and look until it becomes clear: Jesus wants me to stay close to him.

Allow this thought to fill your heart: Jesus has taken hold of me for a specific purpose. His powerful grip is ready to lift me to where he desires me to be. Keep your gaze on Jesus. Look into his loving eyes and ask if he will always hold you close and be dependable. Take a moment to observe his strong arm and ask yourself if you have any reason to doubt his ability to keep you by his side.

As you reflect on the divine purpose for which Jesus reached out to you, keep your focus on him. He is there for you, ready to support and guide you in your faith journey. Consider taking a leap of faith today and entering the blessed life of staying close to Jesus.

Yes, start right now, and say, “My Jesus, if you’re asking me to, and if you promise to lift me and keep me there, I will take the risk. I may be trembling, but I trust you. I will say: Jesus, I am staying close to you.”

My dear fellow believer, find a quiet moment alone with Jesus and express these feelings to Him. I do not want to talk about staying close to Him only to evoke a pleasing religious feeling. God’s truth should be immediately acted upon. Today, surrender yourself to our wonderful Savior in the one way He asks of you: commit to staying close to Him. God Almighty will work this in you. You can trust Him to keep you trusting and remaining close.

If doubts creep in or past failures tempt you to lose hope, remember where Paul found his strength: “Christ took hold of me.” In that assurance, you find a source of strength. From there, you can look up to the ultimate goal that He is focused on, and you can focus on it too.

From there, you gain confidence that He will finish the good work He has started. And with that confidence, you find the courage, each new day, to say again, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

Because Jesus reached out to you, and because Jesus keeps you, you can boldly declare: Savior, I stay close to You.