Near To The Heart of God

quiet_rest_areasThere is a place of quiet rest,
Near to the heart of God.
A place where sin cannot molest,
Near to the heart of God.
O Jesus, blest Redeemer,
Sent from the heart of God,
Hold us who wait before Thee
Near to the heart of God.

There is a place of comfort sweet,
Near to the heart of God.
A place where we our Savior meet,
Near to the heart of God.
O Jesus, blest Redeemer,
Sent from the heart of God,
Hold us who wait before Thee
Near to the heart of God.

There is a place of full release,
Near to the heart of God.
A place where all is joy and peace,
Near to the heart of God.
O Jesus, blest Redeemer,
Sent from the heart of God,
Hold us who wait before Thee
Near to the heart of God.

Words and Music by Cleland B. McAfee, 1903

 


The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Mark 6:30 – 31

“He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart.”
Isaiah 40:11

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
James 4:7 – 8

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2 Corinthians 1:3 – 4

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Psalm 16:11


 

I have spent the last 27 years living in suburban Chicago.  It is a great place. I live far enough out of the city that I need only drive a few miles to find farms and yet when I feel compelled to go to into the city (which is few and far between) I can be there in 45 minutes. Now I do like where I live and all three of my children call it home, but ultimately as nice as it is, my home will always be in rural Iowa.  We all have those places that we feel ultimately comfortable. In a hectic, high pressure, stress filled life, where we face trials and struggles on a daily basis we need those places where we can find refuge, those places where we can renew and refresh.

I know that for me personally, I love to get away into the woods and to enjoy nature.  Whether it is a walk in the forest preserve, a hike through a canyon or a camping trip away from everything. It is an opportunity to escape from the things that seem, at times, to overwhelm my life. But as great as I find those times, there is only one place that truly fits the bill. This is the message found in Cleland B. McAfee’s hymn, “Near to the heart of God.”

The hymn begins, “There is a place of Quiet rest, Near to the heart of God.” Quiet rest is something we far to often forget to think about.  We get so caught up in what we are doing, what we think we have to do, that we forget to rest.  Sometimes these things are distractions that we put in place in our lives and sometimes they are things beyond our control.  Sometimes, we may put things out there that are good things in and of themselves, but we sacrifice our opportunities to find rest because we think we are doing something more important.

Perhaps we far to often let work get in the way. Yes, we have responsibilities, but how often do we let our work begin to dominate our lives. We find ourselves thinking about it all the time, going in odd hours because something has to get done.  Perhaps it is ministry commitments that begin to dominate our lives.  What can be wrong with that, we are serving God, right? But we may find ourselves putting in extended hours, cutting our sleep short to get things done, going to a Sunday school event here, a church outing there, leading a small group.  Before we know it we find ourselves busy every night of the week and weekends.

While these things may be good in, and of, themselves, they can begin to wear us down and wear us out, if we fail to take time to find a quiet place to rest.  Jesus himself understood this as we see in Mark 6:30 – 31 where we read, “The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.'”

The place of true rest and restoration that can be found for the believer is “near to the heart of God.” What does it mean to be near to the heart of God. Isaiah 40:11 give us the image of a shepherd caring for a lamb. When he finds the lamb that has been lost and wandering the shepherd, “gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart.” He carries them safely and securely back to the fold.  They have found comfort and safety being held close to the heart of the shepherd, so the image carries over to the believe who can find rest near to the heart of God.

So the hymn draws for us a picture of what it is like to be near to the heart of God.  It is “a place where sin cannot molest.”  For as James tells us in 4:7 – 8, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.”  When we draw near to God, when we find ourselves near to the heart of God, we can find the strength to resist temptations that come our way.

It says, “There is a place of comfort sweet.” When we face troubles in our lives, when we face the struggles that come our way, we can find comfort near to the heart of God. This is what Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 1:3 where we read, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction”

The hymn tells us that it is “a place where we our Savior meet.” When we draw near to God, we will find opportunity to grow in Christ.  It is “a place of full release”, “A place where all is joy and peace.” Psalm 16:11 tells us, “you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

In a world where we face so many struggles, where we face temptation on a daily basis, where we place so many things  in our way, we need to find time to step back.  We need to find opportunities to refresh.  We need to draw near to the heart of God.  When we take this time, we will find our faith growing and we will find ourselves refreshed and renewed. So we sing out, “O Jesus, blest Redeemer, Sent from the heart of God, Hold us who wait before Thee, Near to the heart of God.”

 

 

Read more about “Near To The Heart of God.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s