Encouragement for Today - Mar. 7, 2008

March 7, 2008


Up Close and Personal

Renee Swope

“’I will bring him near and he will come close to me, for who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?' declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 30:21b (NIV)


“This is not how I wanted to spend the weekend,” I grumbled to my husband. It was cold and I wanted to be inside enjoying our kitchen renovations and completing some unfinished projects.


Instead we were scraping paint. A few weeks earlier, I’d found a notice on our door from the neighborhood architectural committee informing us that our windowsills and front porch columns needed to be painted within 30 days, or we’d be fined. I was so humiliated!


Did our house look bad enough to warrant an official notice? Had they taken time to peek inside the windows and see our kitchen renovations? I defended myself to the “neighborhood police” who weren’t even there to listen.


We’d been so focused on improving the inside of our home that we hadn’t had time to work on the outside. Now I wondered if my neighbors had sat around a table talking about us in a meeting.


Humiliation turned to ranting when my husband got home. “These people need to get a life. There are 400 homes in our neighborhood. Plenty of them are in much worse condition. Anyway, how could they see our windowsills and front porch? We have large trees in our yard that block the view from the street. They must have come onto our property!”


To prove my point, I marched to the curb and announced that I could barely see the windows or columns. From a distance, the house looked fine. However, as I got closer I noticed the sun’s heat and cold winter winds had worn the paint thin.


What we thought would take hours turned into days. We spent the weekend on ladders scraping, sanding, priming and painting. The more we sanded and scraped, the more the paint peeled. It was worse than I thought and I soon realized that if we hadn’t done the repairs, the damage would’ve gotten worse. Eventually the wood could have rotted.


I thought about how our house looked fine from a distance. It was only when someone came near that they could see its neglected condition. I didn’t feel offended anymore that someone had come up close and gotten very personal. I felt thankful they cared enough to tell us.


As I painted and pondered, I noticed similarities between my home and my life. I, too, can look like I’m doing fine - from a distance. I, too, can get so busy focusing on one area of my life that I easily neglect another. And I need someone who is close enough to notice things I may not see and cares enough to tell me.


We all need up close and personal relationships. We all need others in our lives that see areas that need special attention. Yet, it requires transparency and trust, and that can be hard.


Having up close and personal relationships is a risk. What if others see our imperfections and use them against us? Isn’t it safer to perfect or protect the image others see by pretending “everything is fine” even if things aren’t?


That’s why the best place to start is with Jesus. He’s an up-close and personal Savior who creates a safe place for us to be real with Him, ourselves and eventually others. His life and His death prove that He knows us fully, loves us completely and accepts us unconditionally. In Jesus we find a safe place to let someone see the peeling paint in our hearts and the rotting wood in our lives.


So today let’s commit to spending time getting to know Him and inviting Him to know us. He wants to help us maintain the condition of our hearts so we can experience the fullness of His!

Lord, I want an up close and personal relationship with You - where I feel safe in being known completely. I want to be so secure in how You see me and love me that I can even risk letting others get up close and personal. Show me how, in Jesus Name, Amen.


Related Resources:


Do You Know Jesus?


Searching for Satisfaction CD by Renee Swope


Dear Jesus by Sarah Young

Just to Be Close to You Read more about an up close relationship with God, and share your thoughts/questions on Renee’s Blog.


Application Steps: 

Have you ever asked Jesus to be your personal Savior? If not, click here to find out how you can know Jesus.


If you have a relationship with Jesus, ask Him to show you an area of your life that needs some up close and personal attention.



How will I spend more time getting to know Jesus?


How can I develop transparency and trust with Him and others?


Power Verses:

“So you will be my people, and I will be your God.” Jeremiah 30:22 (NIV)

”He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;
Isaiah 40:11 (NIV)



Proverbs 31 Ministries

616-G, Matthews-Mint Hill Road

Matthews, NC 28105









Originally published Friday, 07 March 2008.