Sometimes God feels far away. Like he just packed his bags and left no forwarding address. In all the hustle and bustle of life, the constant need to do all the things and be all the things to all the people, overwhelm is something we all will most definitely be met with. And during these moments, when you wonder if you even have anything left in your energy bank to pull from, you may feel like God couldn’t possibly be near to you in this place.
Afterall, if he was, wouldn’t it feel like it? I mean, if the God who flung the stars into the sky was near to me in all my hot-mess-ness, surely I would get some sort of nudge or jolt in my soul, or at the very least, I’d be able to get out of bed on time in the morning. Wouldn’t I? Honestly, I’m not so sure. Sigh. Sweet friend, these and others like it are the kind of questions that cause me to wonder if God is really there like he says he is when I need him to step up and FIX my mess.
How many great days that I’ve known beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is there, have I quoted Joshua 1:9, thinking, “surely this applies to me!” – have you read it? It’s a GREAT scripture that totally uplifts and encourages us as believers!
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
All the praise hands, Lord. This verse right here, is my JAM. It gives me power! It gives me so much strength and gusto to get moving on what I feel like I’m being called to do. Fo’ realz. You totally get me, God. Mwah.
Other days, I’m living more like Psalm 40:12..
“For evils beyond number have surrounded me; My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to see; They are more numerous than the hairs of my head, And my heart has failed me.”
Gah. Truth be told, I feel like I live in this zone waaay more than the former. Jesus, help.
And this isn’t to be like totally dramatic (okay, fine. It’s totally dramatic). My life really is GREAT. With all the actual bad and important things that happen in the world – you know – famine, terrorism, mass genocide (things that actually matter), my little pity party seems completely juvenile in comparison.
Still… my kids driving me crazy, my DVR not recording America’s Got Talent, and the traffic on the way to work, causing me to be late yet AGAIN, really do serve to rattle my cage a bit! And don’t get all judgy on me either, because I’m willing to bet that you stress over the exact same things!
But no matter whether you’re buried in diapers or files at the office, we all have our own rough places, none of which are TOO BIG or TOO MESSY for God! I have a secret for you, and since we’re girlfriends and all, I’m going to share so listen in… Actually, there are 3 secrets (it must be your lucky day!)…
- Part of the reason we can’t feel God when we are stuck on the hamster wheel of life is because we simply aren’t making any room for him! Our phones are filled with apps, messages, newsfeeds, and a constant influx of information that we were never meant to handle. If we’re forever hooked up to the IV drip of smartphone usage, how in the world can we ever detach long enough to feel God’s presence, listen for his voice, or follow his call?! Here’s a tip: use that nifty little power button on your phone and TURN. IT. OFF. – unplug from the constant demands of life and social media for a while so you can be attuned to the voice of God. Crazy, I know. But just trust me on this. It works!
- We are looking for God in all the big places when instead he might be in the places we’d never expect. The story of Elijah from 1 Kings always gives me all the feels. Elijah is running from Jezebel who wants to kill him. He’s so weary from the constant battles he’s facing and the struggle that accompanies standing up for your faith when no one else gets you. He’s exhausted, hungry, discouraged, and feeling alone. So he goes to a cave to get some sleep, and God shows up in his mess. God says, “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the LORD told him. And as Elijah stood there, the LORD passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave” (1 Kings 19:11-13). We can see here that God was NOT in any of the big places we’d expect him to show up. We see big beautiful wonders of nature and know God exists, but in this passage he is showing us that we can also find him in the gentleness of a whisper. A still small voice. And do you know why he is whispering? Because he’s close. He will never leave or forsake us – he is our constant help in times of trouble. He is there through it all.
- God is using the hard parts of life to bring us into deeper dependence on him. During the hard times in my life when I haven’t been able to sense God’s presence, I’ve often felt like King David: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.” (Psalm 22:1–2) But just because that was how I felt didn’t mean that that’s how it actually was. God is never indifferent towards us – he is unchanging and his love never fails, so he can’t, by nature, change his feeling about us. It’s us that change our feelings about him. And when we feel forsaken by God we are not forsaken (Hebrews 13:5). We are simply called to trust his promise more than our perception. Like the saying goes, “Distance makes the heart grow fonder”, God can use our distance from him to bring us into deeper dependence and desire for him. What we think we can handle on our own is brought down at the drop of a hat when we realize we’ve been doing everything in our own strength. Stress, anxiety, overwhelm are close frien-emies when we leave God out of our daily lives. But I believe God uses these feelings to show us our need for him. If everything was great all the time, we’d never think we needed rescuing! Instead, God is using the hard stuff to mold us and shape us into beautiful creations that can truly bloom and flourish the way he intended us to.
So be encouraged, sister… God has not abandoned you. He isn’t on vacation, and he isn’t mad at you. The Lord is always near, always loving, and always good. He never changes! Invite him into your situation. Make space for him. Watch what he will do.[contact-form-7 404 "Not Found"]