Like every Christian alive, I have had my own fair share of times when I have felt ‘distant’ from God. You know those times, when it feels like your prayers don’t reach beyond the ceiling; when it feels like God has taken a vacation to a galaxy far, far away; and you feel your faith seems as dusty as an outback highway. We have all experienced those times. It’s in those times that I have had various reactions – frustration, tears, tantrums – I have been through the gamut!!
But through it all, I feel like there have been some key lessons the Lord has taught me to keep going when it seems like there is nowhere to go. The biggest thing I had to learn – God doesn’t change. Just because I can’t feel His presence or know His peace, does not change the facts. Just as it says in
Matthew 28:20b (NIV) And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age;” and in Isaiah 26:3 (NIV) You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
So if God doesn’t change…I do have to look at my own life and figure out if something has changed for me. I have to ask myself – have I been consistent with spending time with the Lord, reading my Bible, seeking His face? If I can answer no to any of those things…I know where I am at. It means getting back into QUALITY time with God to renew and refresh my relationship with Him.
Knowing God doesn’t change, and His character is fixed, I also have to look at my own heart. What is holding me back from being close to God? Fear? Sin? Unbelief? Again, if I can identify something, I know where I am at, and that I need to do business with God to get my heart realigned. Prayer, repentance, crying out in desperation if needed, whatever it takes to deal with the things that are making me feel like I have to hold God at arms’ length. God is completely trustworthy. If He loved me when I was at my worst, there is nothing that I am currently experiencing that will withhold His love from me. It’s better to just be honest with Him than hold him at a distance…the truth is, He knows what I am struggling with anyway, so I might as well bring Him into the conversation.
Then there are those days when it seems that everything is just cold. I just feel a bit “meh”. For me, that’s where my home-truth comes to bear
“When I don’t know what to do, I know what to do…I do what I know.”
Just because I don’t feel something doesn’t change who God is. My feelings can change like the wind, God doesn’t. So that’s where I go back to what I know.
Lamentations 3: 21 – 23 (NIV) Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
It isn’t just quoting the scripture, but actively calling to mind the things of God.
Philippians 4:8 (NIV) Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.
As I call to mind specific situations when I have seen His love, mercy, kindness, goodness, etc, the memory of those things brings me to a place of being able to speak out His character and truths. And as I hear from my own mouth the truth of who He is, my spirit seems to remember and come alive to those truths as well. I promise, it does work! If you get to one of those moments, stop yourself from the negative internal dialogue and just start to remember the moments. As they come to mind just start to speak out who He is…”yes God, you have been kind to me, yes Lord, you are faithful”. And watch what happens to your spirit! Sure, at first it might feel a bit unnatural and stilted, but as the thoughts come, the moment turns from one of a dry barren land to roof raising praise! Ok, no guarantees on the roof-raising, but it does change your perspective.
Finally, another key to remember is sometimes we can ‘feel’ all kinds of things. Sometimes, the best thing to do is not pensively try to strain through the moment, but completely switch things up. Try going for a walk, do another activity you enjoy. As we switch out the momentary ‘feeling’ we can get our head and heart realigned with what is really true.
Whatever, you do, remember this – God called us first, and His heart is toward us. No matter how far you feel you are away from God, He has the power to change things in an instant. He loves it when you spend time with him!!
Before becoming a qualified teacher and before joining Youth With A Mission (YWAM), I always had a heart for the individual.It’s who I am! When I became part of YWAM 25 years ago, I never knew that I would be taking my teaching skills to YWAM classrooms in Australia and overseas teaching on the subject of Identity. Fundamentally, my belief is that in order to figure out who we are, we have to go back to the original designer – God himself! Through that incredible journey of discovery, we not only find more about who God is, but we get to discover more about who we are as well.