“I want to sit next to daddy!”
We’ve all heard this, and most likely said it in our lives. And, as is so often the case, there’s a lesson hidden in the simple words of kids.
Children want to be close to those that are important to them. When they love and need someone or something – be that a parent, a friend or even a blanket – they want to keep it next to them.
This desire to latch on to things can be good, and it can be bad, depending on the person, or thing that we hold close.
The Bible gives us many examples of this concept of drawing close to things that are important, and it exhorts us to draw close to those that need our help.
The word “exhort” in the original Greek New Testament is the word Parakaleo. It means to call to one’s side. It’s that action of drawing someone close and the scripture uses the word to teach us the importance of keeping close to what is important.
A Centurion that needed Jesus’ help in Matthew 8:5 appealed [parakaleo] to Jesus for help. He drew close to him, because of his need.
The Beatitudes in Matthew 5:4 promises that “those who mourn”, those who are sad and in need, will be “comforted” [parakaleo].
When an Ethiopian was having trouble understanding the scriptures he was reading, he “invited” [parakaleo] Philip to come and join him in his Chariot (Acts 8:31).
A leper, in his desperate and helpless state implored Jesus, believing, “if you will, you can make me clean” (Mark 1:40).
God’s Word (and the wisdom that comes from it) is one of those things that we need to hold closest of all to us, especially when times are difficult. Proverbs 8:30 tells us that God holds His wisdom close to himself, and used it as a master worker in creation. Wisdom says “then I [wisdom] was beside Him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always.” God keeps wisdom close when he acts and he delights in it.
In our day to day life, what is it that we draw along side? or who do we draw along side to? The Christian life is a constant process of self-assessment, where we draw close to God and his word, and we look for the opportunities God gives us to help others. We draw close to God and we draw others alongside, “exhorting” others to draw close to their creator.
We have faithful individuals in scripture we can take example from, people who kept God close in their lives. Noah, who “walked with God” (Genesis 6:9) and overcame great obstacles is one of thme. The Lord Jesus Christ, who kept his God close to him every day, and who was “wakened morning by morning” is the most powerful one.
A wonderful passage to meditate on is that which Paul wrote the the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 1:3,4:
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforts [parakaleo] us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort [parakaleo] them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted [parakaleo] of God.