I have never been someone who feels comfortable with approaching authorities. Even last week at my children’s Back-to-School meetings, I found myself nervous about approaching principles and teachers, as if they might send me to detention or call my mother. When a police car is behind me, I automatically assume that their sirens and lights are alerting the world to my guilt, even if I am going 10 miles under the speed limit.
Additionally, I am not one to be comfortable with boldly approaching others. I don’t even like to ask waiters or waitresses for ketchup. I am much more comfortable with blending into the scenery than with being one to jump boldly out of the scenery. I feel a lot like Eli who won’t even ask our dearest friends for things he needs but prefers to whisper his request into my ear, inviting me to play a real life game of telephone with others.
I have always attributed my fear of approach and approaching to my own neuroses. But this week, I read something that made me think of these fears in a different light.
Flannery O’Connor, in an essay called “Novelist and Believer” in which she describes the intersection of her faith and her writing, wrote about the spiritual climate of our day.
“We live in an unbelieving age but one which is markedly and lopsidedly spiritual…Man wanders about caught in a maze of guilt he can’t identify, trying to reach a God he can’t approach, a God powerless to approach him.”
Juxtaposed with this accurate description of what I see lurking in society as well in my own heart, what the Bible says about God’s approach to us and our approach to Him seems revolutionary. Indeed it is. I wrote this poem to remind me of the way of God’s approach.
He who dwells in light unapproachable
approaches humanity in humanity.
He whose presence the priests feared to enter
as Great High Priest bids me boldly to come.
He who with a kiss we did betray
now approaches us with a lover’s kiss.
He who wore the thorny crown of our curse
approaches to present to us victor’s crowns.
We need not fear His approach.
His is always an approach of love.