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Be Near Me, Lord Jesus

By Lauren Madsen

Confession: I get a little giddy the Sunday after Thanksgiving as I walk into our chapel and hear Christmas hymns being played for prelude music. Maybe it’s my imagination, but there seems to be something different about how we sing of Jesus at Christmastime. Deeper hope. Stronger love. Renewed devotion. 

I love the first lines of the third verse of Away in a Manger: 

“Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay

Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.”

Be near me, Lord Jesus. It’s a beautiful longing, made of pure motives and great faith. I love it. As I’ve pondered on it more I’ve recognized something important about desiring Him to stay close by us forever: singing that prayer is just the beginning.

In my experience, developing a solid relationship with anyone requires effort on my part. I cannot wish to be close to someone and expect results if I have done nothing to nurture the relationship. If I fail to think about, serve, or spend time with someone else, it is difficult to bond with them. I believe our connection with the Savior is the same. It requires intention. It requires focus. It requires prioritization and diligence. 

In D&C 88:63 we are given direction and a promise: “Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” If we draw near, so will He. If we seek, we will find Him. If we ask, we shall receive. If we knock, He will open the door.

In her talk “Are You the Woman I Think You Are?” Sheri Dew lists several ways to draw near to the Savior, including “meaningful prayer, offered in unrushed solitude and with a repentant heart”, partaking of “the ordinances of the house of the Lord as often as your circumstances allow”, and “immersion in the scriptures.” She assures us that in return for our efforts our testimony will grow and “we begin to care more about life forever than life today, and we have no desire but to do what He needs us to do and to live as He has asked us to live.”

There are many additional ways to build our relationship with Jesus Christ. I love what Mary Ellen Edmunds reminded us in her talk entitled, “It’s About Time”: “Skills and relationships and testimony and character traits—there are a lot of things that take time. They don't happen just in an instant. But you can tell something is happening all along the way as line is added upon line, slowly, steadily.” Drawing near to the Savior and Him drawing near to us takes consistency and time—for our entire lifetime! 

Christmastime gives us a chance to evaluate our lives and situations in an atmosphere of love and joy. While we live in a world of uncertainty and heartache, we are invited by Christ to experience the peace that comes through Him. He provides peace not only as a comfort in trial, but the opportunity for us to become peaceful, just as He is. The Prince of Peace. He invites us to invite Him in and it’s an invitation I can’t refuse. 

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