You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. -Jeremiah 29:13
There are times when all of us struggle to feel God is close. Times we go through an emotional desert where we feel numb… It’s in those times it’s important to know where to look for emotional connection with our Heavenly Father. When we can’t feel anything and the Bible seems like dry toast instead of the Bread of Life, where can we be sure to find him? Places that connect with the emotions and the excite the heart…
4 Places to Look
What does the sky look like right now where you are? Maybe the sky brilliant black and popping with beautiful stars. The sky could be dreary and gray or bursting with sunshine. Even when the sky is relatively unremarkable, it’s this-couldn’t-be-an-accident complexity that is a reminder of God’s handiwork. If God could make each of those stars and place them precisely so humans could use them as guides for time and navigation… you most certainly are not an accident. If he puts mountains on the horizon and layers of pinks, oranges and yellows in a sunset… he most certainly has your problems under control.
I am grateful that our family decided to move this spring to a home with a view that points me to God. Even living on a lake I physically have to remove myself from looking at my kitchen and walk out to the dock. When I sit there and the only thing in front of me is water, trees and sky my soul rests. Spend time in nature away from tasks and look up.
Think back on how has shown himself faithful to you in the past. Chances are you have some remarkable God stories and now may be the time to tell yourself those stories.
As a toddler and preschooler I spent about two days a month in the hospital. My dad was a teacher and my mom worked very part-time as a hair stylist. Money was tight and they didn’t know what was wrong with me. One doctor said I had chronic bronchitis. The only answer was to wait until I could barely breathe, rush to the hospital and get an IV with adrenaline. There would be immediate relief and then the cycle would begin again a few weeks later.
I will never forget staying in an oxygen tent bed with a little zipper along the side where my mom could put her plastic gloved hand through the opening. She held my hand. I was fragile. When I was a five-year-old I gave my heart to Jesus and that was also the year a doctor told my parents I had Cystic Fibrosis and would most likely not live past my early 20s. They grieved. I didn’t know anything except all the allergy test pricks on my back hurt and I thought they just felt bad about my pain from the testing.
My parents decided to get a second opinion at the University of Iowa a few weeks later. In the meantime I was on every prayer chain and our pastor came to pray with my parents. I am not sure how it happened but the second opinion was diametrically opposed to the first. “She most certainly does NOT have Cystic Fibrosis.” I was diagnosed was severe asthma and put on morning and night medications to keep my breathing in check. I tend to think God healed me from Cystic Fibrosis and extended my life as an answer to the prayers of his people.
I am alive today and it is a gift. Every day is a gift.
What is something you can look back in your past and see God’s active involvement? An answered prayer? Protection? Unmerited favor? A miracle? Look back to those moments in your own personal history and connect with them as a reminder God is still active today as He was then.
Look in Christian Music
Notice how I didn’t says listen to Christian music. Listening to Christian music is great, but reading and absorbing the lyrics makes it much more powerful. Here’s an example. You might hear this Chris Tomlin song on your Christian radio station:
It’s different when you aren’t trying to follow along at church to sing along. It’s different when you don’t have the crazy morning rush happening while you have the radio on. Listening to music and concentrating on God’s message to you in the lyrics is a powerful way to feel God close. Another way is worshiping God while you are alone and can belt out the words from your heart without inhibitions.
Look at Scripture
I add this one fourth because I feel the others, those less important, may be more palatable for someone who is really struggling to feel God near. “Meh” in one’s spiritual life often comes after work and striving to feel God’s favor. When the Bible has been a chore and hasn’t seemed to work to create emotional passion, more reading isn’t the answer. Quantity is legalistic. Reading for relationship is the goal. Be prepared, if you have tried to read mass quantities to earn His favor you may actually have deep seated anger and bitterness. I know, I get it. If you see this in yourself, talk to the Lord about it. He understands.
Focus now on Scriptures which show God’s mercy and care for his own. Here are a few to get started. You may have others that come to mind.
*So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. -Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)
*I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. – Isaiah 43:25
* Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” -John 8:10-11 ESV
*Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” -Romans 8:1-2 NIV
What has worked for you when you have had trouble feeling the Lord close? How did your emotions come around to agree with the Truth that God is close? I’d love to hear your story. Feel free to share it below.