Monday, February 19, 2018

When God Feels Far Away

When my son was twenty, he spent six weeks in Iceland, hiking and backpacking all over the country. I picked him and his buddy up at the airport afterward. They looked disheveled, filthy and like they hadn't had a bath in weeks. Apparently, they hadn't had a bath in weeks! I wanted to give him a big hug anyway, after all, he's my son!  I didn't care what he smelled like, I was just glad he was safely home. But he was too embarrassed, so I told him I'd give him a hug after he got cleaned up.  Once he got home, he got took a long bath and then I was finally able to hug him and welcome him home! I would've hugged him no matter what, but I understood what he was doing. I do it, too.

Sometimes, I feel like that with God. Like I'm too dirty to approach Him. I stay away, as if to protect Him, thinking He certainly wouldn't want to have anything to do with me. I begin to avoid Him, and eventually, I feel far away from Him.

One thing I do know: when I feel far away from God, or unworthy of approaching Him, it's never because of Him. He promised to never leave me or forsake me. So, clearly it's me that moves when this happens. I begin to believe lies..."God probably really regrets making you His child since you can't seem to get it right." or "You're never going to get it right because you know, no matter how hard you try, you will never measure up." You know.... lies. Big ones, that seem so convincing and real.

Why do they seem real? I can tell you, if I'm being completely honest, that when I begin to fall into these thought patterns, I'm usually not in the Word. I think I can manage on my own, I've gotten "busy" or "distracted" and haven't taken the time to let the truths of His Word sink into my heart and mind. So, I'm easily deceived. We are all easily deceived by lies when we don't know the truth.

I was meditating on Ephesians 5:25-26 the other day, and God revealed something very sweet to my heart. Read this carefully:

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,  that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the Word." (Ephesians 5:25-26)

As I meditated on this Scripture the other day, it struck me how imperative it is that I study God's Word. I've always known that it was important, I've always felt it was necessary. This verse showed me why, in a way that I had never thought of before.

If you read the verse above again, you'll notice that Christ sanctifies (makes us holy) and cleanses us with the washing of water by the Word. When I'm not in God's Word, learning and meditating on the truths, I begin to feel dirty, in a sense. I begin to only see my sin, not my Savior. I begin to focus on my efforts instead of His. I begin to believe things that His Word clearly tells me are not true. So, what this verse shows me is that I need a "bath". A really good one! From the inside, out. He cleans us up by His Word!  It cleanses our hearts and our minds so we can hear from Him again. It restores hope where despair has set in. It replaces the lies with truth and it gives us peace where anxiety has slipped in.

If you find yourself feeling far from God, here are some practical steps you can take to draw near to Him:   

1. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8 Take some time each day to be still, with no distractions, and meditate on His Word. Before you begin, you'll want to pray that He will meet you there and draw near to you as you draw near to Him.  There is actually a wonderful app called Abide that can help you as you learn to meditate and connect with God on a deeper level. I highly recommend it if meditating on God's Word is a new activity for you!

2. "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success." Joshua 1:8  Take one verse each day and try to remember what it says. It doesn't have to be word-for-word, but if you can just remember the content of the verse, the context, and the application for your life, you can take your mind there throughout the day. Perhaps when you are at a stop light, when you're waiting in line, when you have a few moments.

3.  "Pray without ceasing." 1 Thessalonians 5:17 Talk to God throughout the day, like you would to a good friend. Prayer doesn't have to be with your eyes closed and on your knees all the time. It's just talking to God throughout the day, giving Him your cares, speaking Scripture back to Him and remembering that He is there, with you, every moment of every day. 

4.  "Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord." Psalm Psalm 89:15  Worship God throughout your day! When we worship Him, which basically means "the feeling of adoration and adoration for a deity", we bring delight to His heart, walk in His presence and find true joy.

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