I feel a need to comment on my own post from February 24, “Just to Be Close to You.” I wrote that devotional based on Exodus 24 where Moses and the Israelite leaders climbed the mountain and worshiped God.

There is a danger here if you read too much into this. Even as I wrote it I tried to be careful not to use language that would sound legalistic, performance-based, or pressure-inducing. Climbing the mountain to be closer to God can sound that way. But that is not the spirit of Exodus 24 or my devotional post.

“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Come up to me on the mountain.'”
– Exodus 24:12

I was reading John Eldridge’s February 2010 newsletter the other day in which he discusses the pressure we put on ourselves in our love affair with God. I love his story of a woman whose desire and love for God became duty and pressure. Eldridge goes on to say:

All the things we are called to do – to pray, and sacrifice, and help others – all of it is easy when it comes out of a love for God. But pressure is sneaky; it works its way in here, too, doesn’t it? You’re not doing enough. Let us remember then that, “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). You are deeply and profoundly loved. As this seeps in, it releases us from guilt and pressure and frees our hearts to love God in return.

The point of my original post is that we allow things in our lives to keep us at a distance from God: our attitudes, decisions, indifference, etc. But God is always inviting and drawing us closer to him. He loves us, as Gary Thomas recently reminded me in a Focus on the Family newsletter, with an “Anyway Love,” not a “Because Love.” Yet, we must respond to this love, and that takes action, hard decisions, sacrifice, and surrender. It takes climbing the mountain to be with God. All of that is easy when it comes as a response to God’s love for us.

Father, I know you are always inviting me, drawing me, closer into a more intimate relationship with you. And that is my desire. Lord, so take away the the things in my life that are obstacles to me coming closer. Thank you for loving me first, with an unconditional, “anyway” kind of love. My desire is to be in relationship with you, and then, Lord, to be a leader after your own heart so you can use me in your Kingdom mission.

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Michael Mack has been involved in small group ministry as a pastor, writer, trainer, and speaker for more than 25 years. He founded SmallGroups.com in 1995 and started Small Group Leadership in 2012. He became the 12th editor of Christian Standard magazine in 2017 and continues to speak in churches about small groups, discipleship, and leadership. He lives in Pewee Valley, Kentucky (just outside Louisville), with his wife Heidi. They have four young adult children. Michael enjoys mountain and road biking with a group of friends. See the "About Michael Mack" page under About Us for more about him.

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