What Happens When You Draw Near to God

homeschool mom showing love to son

I’ve heard many commentaries on love and what Jesus meant when He told us to love one another. Years ago, I wholeheartedly agreed with the idea that love is a decision, not a feeling. The concept that love is expressed more out of choice than emotional sentiment made sense to me. I went along with that.

Until I got cancer.

When the lump was first detected, the doctors told me I might have cancer. They couldn’t tell for sure because the tumor was about the size of a pea, and the needle-like instrument was inconclusive with some suggestion of cancer. I was newly pregnant so the surgeon wanted to wait until I gave birth to make a decision.


Years before, I had begun a routine of praying with a fellow homeschooler. We prayed every week over the phone, without fail. My faith was tremendously small when we started, but it wasn’t long before we began to see God work miracle after miracle, great and small—from a good night’s sleep to a transformed marriage.

With each miraculous answer to prayer my faith grew bigger.  

I realized, like Dwight Moody, that not one decision should be made without first praying. “No learning can make up for the failure to pray. No earnestness, no diligence, no study, no gifts will supply its lack.”  E.M. Bounds

After several years of being totally dependent on God for everything and discovering through our prayer time what life was really all about—knowing Him—I learned about the cancer. It was as if He had prepared me for this moment.

Throughout the pregnancy I drew closer to God than ever before. One’s imminent death really can do amazing things for your relationship with God. The Word proved true: If you draw near to God, He will draw near to you. And He became, as the Word says, “closer than a brother.” 

Suddenly, the Scripture in Ephesians where Paul prays for believers made perfect sense.

… that you may know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:19


And as I drew near to God, I comprehended what it meant to be filled with the fullness of God. That fullness was the knowledge—the deep, personal, felt experience—of God’s incomprehensible, unimaginable love for me. And he filled me with the knowledge that He loves you, that He loves people, every single person—whether the drug dealing gang member with a history of murder or the devout nun prostrate before him—with that same unfathomable love. 

Most surprisingly, that fullness revealed itself in an overwhelming love for others—for everyone, every person, whether I knew them or not. The closer I drew, the more mercy and compassion I felt toward everyone around me, even those who were hard to love. But it wasn’t a choice kind of love at all. It was a total feeling kind. 

I genuinely felt love for others. It was amazing. It was supernatural. I could not stop praying for every person I encountered, even those I only saw from a distance.

I would see people at church and just want to love them, to find out what was going on in their lives, to pray for them, and to just care for them. I prayed for other people more than I prayed for myself, even when the tumor turned out to be an incurable rare form of cancer with a five-year survivability rate of 2%. 

Because I experienced a daily, hourly love from my Lord, I honestly had no fear of death. I felt excited to actually be with Him in Heaven. I was only sad that I would be leaving my three small children for my husband and possibly some other woman—a new wife—to raise.

A tiny drip in the ocean of His love was given to me and I felt it.

I’m certain that if you knew the depth of His love for you, the issues of this world wouldn’t phase you.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8


I was fully convinced God had total mercy and compassion for me, and I think it was that knowledge—the knowledge of God’s excessive, unwarranted, unreasonable love for me—that allowed me to forget about myself during my illness and immerse myself in caring for others.

I’m so thankful God allowed me that season of intimately knowing His love, of experiencing what it is like to genuinely love others from the heart. I know that I’m completely, in and of myself, incapable of loving anyone the way God allowed me to during that time. 

It was only through drawing near to Him in close relationship that He was able to flood me with that kind of supernatural love.

One of the most powerful revelations from that period was: the closer my relationship with God, the less dogmatic and religious I was. The less in the flesh I lived. 

Rules and religion (or rebellion) take the place of relationship when I’m not walking in deep fellowship with God. Irritation and a critical spirit toward others—including my children—is the hallmark of living in my flesh.

What it says in Galatians makes more sense: 

In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision (dogma and rules) means anything, but faith working through love. Galatians 5:6

Often, in the busy and harried days of homeschooling, we forget what it’s really about. What’s truly important and what will last.

We get bogged down in the details and feel frustrated that things aren’t going as planned. We feel anxious that we aren’t getting things done. And sometimes we feel like a total and complete failure.


I want to encourage you to write on notecards the Scriptures God has given you. You know the ones. Those verses that felt as if they jumped off the page, or flowed from the mouth of another, into your heart. Read them in bed at night. Listen to and sing a few favorite hymns before falling asleep. 

And early in the morning, before you fully wake, seek Him and allow His presence to fill you. 

Every afternoon, in the days of my cancer treatment, we established room time where my children were given an hour or so of personal time to pursue their own interests or take a nap. During that time, I neglected my chores and read through Paul’s epistles. And God opened the Word to my understanding. 

Did my house need cleaning? Yes. Did the laundry pile up? It did. 

But I chose “the better part.” I chose time with God, and He relieved my anxiety and worry over mundane issues. 

Prioritize drawing near to God before starting your day, before your children rise to greet you with fresh chaos, before your feet even hit the ground. 

Hebrews 11:6 promises us, 

…for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

If you fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith, you will find yourself empowered to live out your homeschool day from the heart. From a place of strength.

In His strength.

My experience with cancer left me fully convinced that when God tells us we must love others, it isn’t just a choice to be good to them, a choice to treat them with honor, a choice to show charity. It really is a true, supernatural feeling of love.

But this experience of love can only come through Him, seeking Him and allowing Him to fill us with His love for us.

He is the answer to our need for rest, peace, joy, and especially for the patience and compassionate, benevolent love we want to have for our precious children. For our husband. For our extended family. For all He places in our path. 

It’s the kind of love that overflows and doesn’t think about being loved back. 

It’s the kind of love that God has for you.

The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call out to Him in truth. Psalm 145:18