When my son, Harrington, was younger, he loved crawling into his mama’s lap. He’d look up at me as he played, I’d put my arms out toward him, he’d crawl excitedly over and up into my lap, and I’d scoop him up.
Sometimes he’d try to crawl while clutching a toy at the same time. It didn’t work. He couldn’t manage both holding onto a toy and climbing into my lap. The toy got in the way. He had to choose.
It struck me one day as I watched him wrestle stubbornly with not wanting to set down his toy how I act just like Harrington on a daily basis. God’s always there for me, arms open, smiling at me, excited to be close. But I let stuff get in the way. I want the best of both worlds. I want intimacy with God and I want to hang onto everything worldly. God’s love doesn’t waver, but my choices distance me from him.
I want to embrace James’ words: “Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:8). Like James encourages in the verses that follow this one, I want to repent and purify my heart. I want to give up the illusion that I can love God and the world at the same time. I can’t do these things on my own, but I know God wants to help. Then there’s a final promise that fits the illustration with my little boy so perfectly: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (verse 10).