WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN GOD SEEMS FAR, FAR AWAY ?
What do you do when God seems far, far away? When you open your Bible and it looks like black ink on white paper but doesn’t say or mean anything to you? When you close your eyes to pray but you can’t concentrate for more than two or three seconds and you feel like you’re simply wasting your time? What do you do ? How do you reconnect that intimacy with God?
I think we all have times like that. We may not admit it very often, but we all have times of spiritual dryness or a lack of connection with the Lord Jesus. Sometimes it’s a gradual sin that’s made its way into our hearts or life that puts up a barrier between us and the Lord; or sometimes it’s just a matter of fatigue and emotions getting tangled that make us feel far away from God even though we may not be.
I think one of the great dangers in our relationship with Jesus is basing things on emotions. I want wonderful and great emotions as much or more than anyone. But I’ve learned that I can’t base the reality of my relationship with Christ on what my emotions tell me anymore than I can base the love I have for my Girl Friend on my emotions. There’s times I feel over-the-top, absolutely excited, and passionately crazy about my Girl Friend; but there’s other times when I’m tired, fatigued, out of sorts, and sick; at these times I know that I love her, but don’t feel much of anything. I think it’s important to remember what real love is and also not measure our spiritual intimacy simply by our emotions.
With that said, however, I think there are times when we move away from God so gradually and have times of dryness and don’t know how to get reconnected to the Lord. Let me suggest a couple things that I have been very helpful for me: Realize that the organ of intimacy with God is not knowledge, not ritual, it’s not trying harder, it’s obedience. Jesus said in John 14:21, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."
What I’ve learned is I must obey my way into intimacy with God. Notice what it says above: he that loves Me will keep My commandments and then we receive the promise—Jesus and the Father will come and make themselves known and be real to us in response to our obedience.
So when I get really bummed out and feel distant from God, sometimes I just open my Bible and say to the Lord, “I don’t feel much right now, but whatever I read I’m going to figure out some specific thing to do to obey You. It might be writing a note, doing a good deed, making a phone call, or walking out the door and asking God for someone specific to go and help. But I’m just going to “flat out obey anything that is remotely in that passage” to get my spiritual engine running again and refocused in the right direction. I’m not saying it’s a magic bullet, but I will say when I start focusing on application and obeying, the intimacy and the accompanying emotions are often not far away.
Sure, there are some dark times of the soul where God even tests us by withholding the emotional intimacy so we learn to walk by faith in a deeper way. But I think for a lot of us, we just gradually slide into an intellectual knowledge of Jesus, have our devotions, think thoughts about Him, but don’t really move toward Jesus in specific steps of obedience. So if you feel kind of bummed out and distant from God—let me encourage you—obey your way to intimacy. Open your Bible right now, read a paragraph or two, and then in some specific way respond to it. Love Him and love others. And I think you’ll see God’s going to show up right around the corner.
Keep Pressin’ Ahead.
L B DANIEL T
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