I haven’t felt really close to God for awhile now.
Are you shocked? Or are you nodding your head and thinking the same thing?
Maybe that seems hypocritical to say, but I’m just trying to be real. It’s not that I feel like I don’t know God, or that He’s pulled away from me. I just haven’t felt super close to Him like I have in the past.
Is it because of inconsistent personal time with God? Have I just not been reading the Bible enough? Is my prayer time a one-way conversation where I do all the talking?
Or maybe, it’s because I’ve been so happy that I haven’t needed to rely on God as much to heal my hurts. I finally know what it means to have a happy marriage – one in which we are partners in life! And for years in my previous marriage, I didn’t think I could get pregnant. Well, we just celebrated my son’s first birthday and will be celebrating the birth of our second child in March! I have wonderful friends and a fantastic church. I’ve been involved in worship leading and directed the choirs for our Christmas and Easter Cantatas. We’ve had amazing adventures – traveling, sailing, outdoor activities, family visits. Honestly, my life has been absolutely incredible the last several years. So, why do I feel distant from God?
A few weeks ago, I decided to try to get more consistent in my time with God. I like to read Christian-authored books along with the Bible. So, I chose a book that I’ve had on my shelf for almost a year, “Disappointment With God,” by Philip Yancey. I chose that book mostly because I really enjoy Philip Yancey, not because I feel disappointed with God. Along with reading a few pages a day, I’ve been reading Galatians. That is where our sermon topics come from and since I’ve been leading worship, I wanted to keep focused on the topic at hand.
I started journaling again today (it comes and goes in my life) to try to get more focused. I like to journal different things – my prayers to God, my thoughts about what I’m reading, my thoughts about my life or life in general. Today, I did a bit of a recap on what I’ve read in Yancey’s book. The last few chapters of his book have been a recap of the Old Testament which tell “amazing stories of [God’s] continuing personal encounters with humanity.” p. 63
Originally, God was very intimate with Adam and Eve before they ate the forbidden fruit. Of course, everything was downhill from there. But, God never gave up. It seems that He just continued to try different tactics. A customized punishment for Cain, a clean slate with Noah after generations of rejection from humans (along with the promise to never do it again!), starting a new race set apart from everyone else through Abraham, sending angels down for a chat, dreams (think Jacob and Joseph), major displays of divine power with the plagues, speaking audibly to Moses, pillars of clouds and fire, direct instructions on how to live (Ten Commandments and Leviticus), miraculous food out of thin air, kings (by request) and prophets (the kings didn’t work out so well).
A lot of these tactics brought out fear in the people He was trying to reach. (Remember, “Fear not!” was a common greeting when dealing with God and those He sent.) Then He tried something totally different. God allowed Jesus Christ, His Son, to be lowered to the status of mere human. And not only that, He had to grow up to end a perfect life in complete agony! I really can’t imagine allowing my beautiful baby boy to be killed so brutally! And after Jesus left the earth, he assured us that we would have God’s Spirit with us and living in us, if only we accepted him.
That got me thinking about the many ways God has pursued generations of men, women and children; how He has given us a way to stay connected to Him every day, without all the crazy sacrifices and rules that the Israelites had to keep to try to stay righteous.
So, why is it that I don’t feel really close to God right now? I think it goes back to time. So, I’ve decided to have some God-dates. (Does that sound cheesy?)
I think we all go through various seasons in our spiritual lives. I want this next season to be one of treasuring my time alone with God. Being a stay-at-home Mom means lots of housework, lots of meal planning and prep, and lots of baby time! So, I’ve committed a portion of Ethan’s daily nap time to spending time with God. Thankfully, I’ve been able to meet that goal 4-5 days a week. (Sometimes, I have to take a nap first, but that’s OK!)
And I know beyond doubt that if God went to that much effort to show people His love, power, grace and mercy; then recorded all those stories for me to be reassured; and gave me a “personal assistant” for life (a.k.a. Holy Spirit) … then He certainly won’t give up on me just because I missed a few dates or got too busy to go for a walk with my Friend. I’m so thankful that He is still hanging around, eager to spend time with me!
Jeremiah, the prophet, sent a letter to the people King Nebuchadnezzar had taken as captives from Jerusalem to Babylon. He told them in chapter 29, verses 12-13, that the Lord said:
“You will come to me and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will search for me. And when you search for me with all your heart, you will find me!”
I’m holding onto that promise for myself. And I can honestly say, I do feel a little closer to God these days!
But really, “What matters is not what I feel is true about myself at any moment, but what I know is true about God at every moment,” so profoundly spoken by the Welsh preacher, Martyn Lloyd Jones.
(Ironically, our pastor spoke on this exact topic yesterday … and I started this post a week ago. Interesting how God works!)