Here goes: I’ve really been struggling lately with not feeling close to God. There are a lot of reasons for this: I’m not as plugged into godly community right now as I was back in college, and if I’m being really honest here I’ve not been as consistent with my quiet times as I would like. While there is certainly room to improve there, it has brought back a lie that I have struggled with for some time, which is that when I don’t feel close to God then I’m not close to God and/or I’m doing something wrong in my Christian walk.
Praise God that is not how Christianity works.
1) To use some “Christianese,” we cannot live in the mountaintops. As a simple human, I cannot sustain the emotional highs of being close to God. My life is lived in a series of mountains and valleys and the transition between them. The mountains and the valleys are revealing and sometimes life changing, but most of life is lived somewhere in between. And that’s a good thing! Because in this in-between space I have the opportunity to be faithful and obedient despite not “feeling” close to God. In The Screwtape Letters, Wormwood (the master tempter) says to his nephew (a junior tempter),
“Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring but still intending to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”Now I’m not sure I’m quite there yet, though I’ve certainly had days of questioning like this in the past, but it was still a striking reminder that my obedience should not be based on my emotions, but on my trust in God’s character and the promise that I have made to follow him unequivocally.
2) I am so very grateful that God has promised, “never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5, Joshua 1:5). Over and over again, God promises to be with us (Mt 28:20, Joshua 1:9, etc.) promises that he is faithful (Dt 7:9, Ps 33:4, etc.), promises himself to us (Eph 5:25-27). His promises are true and trustworthy (Ps 145:17). So when I’m exhausted from trying to hold on and make myself feel something, I can take peace and comfort from the fact that God will never let me go. I am his and I am his forever. I love the line in Just Be Held by Casting Crowns that says to “stop holding on and just be held.” Sometime I’m like a little child, try to clutch so tightly to God for fear that he will disappear, when all I need to do is relax and be held, knowing that I am secure in his love and in his care.
When I’m caught in the grip of a lie, the most effective thing for me to do is remember that while my emotions may deceive me, I can trust in the truth of God’s word. These Bible verses remind me that the truth of the situation is far removed from my anxious imaginings. Whatever lie I’m facing, a verse I turn to often is Proverbs 3:5-6, which says to “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path.” The lies that cloud my mind can often confuse me, but I know that I can trust God, the author of truth, to direct my path and reveal these lies for what they are.
So that’s been my struggle over the past few weeks. Is there anything that has been on your heart that you’ve been struggling with, or maybe a lie that you are just now recognizing? I’d love to hear about it to celebrate God revealing truth, or maybe if you are just recognizing a lie to pray for you and share some Bible verses that can combat it. Feel free to leave a comment below or message me! As always, I'm praying for you!