Picture it. Christmas Eve 2006, snow-capped hills in Saskatchewan, and a white 4×4 travelling down the road. Yes, I said hills in Saskatchewan. Four miles from our farm we drove to climb what was likely the highest hill within a hundred mile radius. Our “Butte” we call it. As we stepped out of the cab on this Christmas Eve, the full moon shone down on us protectively, watchfully, like it was telling us a Christmas tale of its own. We stared in awe and wonder and God’s night beauty. The Big Dipper. The frost on the fence posts. Something about the moon that night though, however many millions of miles away, captivated me. We sang songs, I’m sure, and climbed back in the truck, planning for hot chocolate when we got home.
That moon—I wanted to touch it. To have a Neil Armstrong moment and take one huge leap for mankind! But only from afar could I appreciate its beauty that night.
I’ve known many things from a distance. Like the guy I had a crush on in college that I always saw around campus but never said hello to. Like Facebook friends whom I never actually talk to. Or the greeter at Walmart who’s always the one to wish me a good night on my way out. We’re mildly engaged with so many things every day, yet how satisfying is it?
I’ve been reading in Matthew again about the cross. Jesus being betrayed by those He once held dearest. Those He taught and loved and ate countless meals with.
In Matthew 26:58, it tells of Jesus being led to the Sanhedrin to be convicted. The courtyard filled with onlookers camping around blazing fires, trying to keep warm. It says that “Peter followed at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome” (TNIV).
Peter couldn’t get any closer than he already was. Yet he needed to see Jesus. I believe that even though in a moment of panic he denied Christ, his heart yearned to touch Him one more time and know that He was real. In a moment, his “from a distance” story changed.
Later on in Matthew 27 it again tells of women watching from a distance the death of Jesus. This man they grew to love and respect. Among them were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph. As you read on, these were the very women who discovered the empty tomb three days later. They were watching, anticipating and curious—as anything from a distance usually is.
One doesn’t wait around for something he/she doesn’t have a curiosity about. I’d say watching from a distance means you genuinely want more, but you’re likely too afraid to act on it.
As the women found themselves that morning at the tomb, Matthew 28:9 says “Suddenly, Jesus met them.”
These women, once watching from a distance, had a life-change in a moment. Their curiosity turned into a real tangible moment with Christ—the first ones to see Him after His resurrection.
From a distance, now right in front of their very eyes. He was finally close enough to touch—and they did (v. 9).
As I read those three words “from a distance” I realized this week how unsatisfying from a distance is. How Jesus is right there, all the time, and we’ll often linger in curiosity, but at times without truly engaging. But you know what? That’s where it starts. Everything starts from a distance. We just can’t stay there.
We all just need that one “suddenly” when Jesus meets us. It’s so much more satisfying.
Let’s not stay “from a distance” with Jesus. Get in the game, watch the play unfold and stare in wonder at what God will do in your own life if you just come a little bit closer.
Lani Ledingham works as a Public Relations Consultant in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. She loves to travel, write and inspire others to dream big. She recently spent three months exploring and writing in England, and this writing piece came from that journey. There are many more "pieces" to come from her life, she is sure of that.