When God Seems Far Away

Maybe you’ve experienced days, weeks and even months when God seemed far away. You pray, but you don’t hear His answer. You read your Bible but no revelation seems to come. You try to worship or praise, but you feel empty.

Unfortunately, I’ve felt that way many times in my life. Thankfully the Bible is full of such experiences. This is a reoccurring theme in David’s life. I was reading one of his prayers and noticed a question David asked God that I had not seen before: “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?”[1]

David wrestled with his thoughts. He recognized the battle he faced in his mind, just as you and I face each day. When I didn’t hear from God, I would dig for answers with faithless questions like:

  • Where is God?
  • Why can’t I hear Him?
  • Why won’t He answer me?
  • Has He forgotten me?
  • Have I done something wrong?

My negative thoughts captivated my heart and imprisoned me.

I struggled to have a right perspective—a view of God’s truth. Before the self-assaulting thoughts came to the forefront of my mind, I knew His promises. I believed His truth.

  • He loves me with an everlasting love.[2]
  • He is faithful and just.[3]
  • He will never leave me or forsake me.[4]
  • He has given me a future and a hope.[5]
  • Nothing and no one can separate me from His love.[6]

But the prison bars rose and imprisoned me with each unbelieving, doubting thought I allowed inside. I could no longer see the truth. I no longer felt His presence. I can no longer heard His voice. I’d built a barrier in my mind. I’ve believed a lie.

But from deep within me, I get a grip and refocus. Like David, I come to my spiritual senses. My eyes are opened. The light of God’s truth makes it way in, and I remember. I remember His goodness, His mercy and truth. I remember how He’s faithfully worked behind the scenes on my behalf—over and over again—most often when I couldn’t see Him, hear Him, or feel Him. Yet, unknown to me at the time, I was experiencing Him.

That little glimpse of light gave me what I need to break free. I went to the Word and began to renew my mind. I removed the barriers my deceitful thoughts created with God’s promises.

I can hope again. I may not yet hear him, or have the answers I desperately need. But I know He is there—as He has always been.

David closes Psalm 13 with these words: “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me,” and I echo David’s words.[7]

 

[1] Psalm 13:2 NIV

[2] Jeremiah 31:3

[3] 1 John 1:19

[4] Deuteronomy 31:6

[5] Jeremiah 29:11

[6] Romans 8:39

[7] Psalm 13:5-6 NIV

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Memory Stones – Again

I shared this particular content early in my blog postings. I was thinking about it the other day, so I decided to share it again.

History wasn’t my favorite subject in school, but some elements of it have intrigued me for most of my life. The Jewish culture and all that God’s first, chosen people endured throughout history  fascinated me. As a child, I was an avid reader and true stories like The Diary of Anne Frank and The Hiding Place, pulled me completely into the world they lived in as soon as I turned the first page.

Sad movies based on real people, places and times before were difficult for me to watch because I knew real people endured those horrible things. That was the case of Shindler’s List. I knew it would rock me deep into my soul, so I waited until I felt I was ready to see it. Three years after the movie premiered, I watched a commercial-free version of it on television. And I carry some of those scenes with me even today.

The final scene takes place at the grave of Oskar Schindler. The amazing part is the custom the Jews have of placing stones on the grave—not flowers as I would have assumed. Even today you can Google “Oskar Schindler’s grave” and view pictures of his memorial stone with small stones of all shapes and sizes placed respectfully one on top of the other.

It seems that each stone placed is a promise made by the one who left it to remember something significant. No words—just pebbles—memory stones. Each memory is respectfully placed at the discretion of each visitor. Perhaps they are thanking God for one man’s courage to stand up when it seemed no one else could. Maybe they owe their very lives to him because without him they would never have been born. Others may hope they have enough boldness for what they believe in when their time comes to stand.

I’d like to think that my faith grows with each obstacle I’ve faced. And each time a new challenge to my faith taunts me to doubt God and his faithfulness, I can pull a memory stone from my past to remind me God was there for me then, and He will help me make it through whatever crisis standing in my way in this moment.

The challenge is to remember to take those memory stones out and remember.

God has done some amazing and very miraculous acts in my life. Joshua 4:6-7 says, When your children ask in time to come, “What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them…. So these stones shall be to the Israelites a memorial forever,” (NIV)

I am sure you can think of times in your life that would serve as a reminder of God at work in your life. I encourage you to take memory stones from your own life and use them with the help of the Holy Spirit to develop your faith, build your family and shape your future.

Feel free to share a precious, memory stone in the comments below. I’d love to hear your stories.

Miraculous Provider

Billy Graham, said, “God doesn’t owe us anything—yet in His grace, He still gives us good things.”

The same God we serve today performed many miracles recorded in the Bible. These accounts are detailed for us that we may know who God is and the miraculous He will do. God does not change. The God you serve today is the same One who rained down bread from heaven to feed the children of Israel.[1]

The Israelites didn’t need food for lack of planning. They brought what they could with them, but they had no idea how long they’d be in the desert. When the food ran out, they complained to Moses, and he asked God about it. God gave them meat in the evening and bread in the morning with the condition that they only take what they need for that day.

He wanted to be their miraculous provider.

When some of the people disobeyed and kept the bread into the next day, it became rotten. God desired for them to trust Him for their needs daily. God faithfully sustained them for 40 years in the desert with meat and bread from heaven, until they reached the Promised Land.

Growing up, my family didn’t have a lot of extras, but the Lord made sure we had what we needed—and often gave us things we wanted.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you (Exodus 16:4 NKJV).

It’s nothing we’ve done to deserve the things He gives. His rich mercy and love compels Him to pour out blessings to us. he wants to be your miracle provider, too!

How has God provided supernaturally for you or for your family members?

 

 

[1] Malachi 3:6

Let Your Spirit Lead

God created you in His likeness— for your spirit to rule your mind, will, and emotions and to direct your body in what is right in unison and agreement with Him.

When Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command, their relationship with God was severed. They were created in His image — for their spirit to lead their thoughts and actions. Their desire to go their own way led to the death of their spirits and caused them to depend on physical knowledge. Their physical senses told them what to feel and think. The physical and natural became dominant over the spirit.

Before we accept Christ, our spirits are in that fallen-from-grace darkness, the same condition of Adam and Eve’s hearts after the fall. Our spiritual senses sit in darkness allowing our physical senses to interpret our lives for us.

When we accept the sacrifice Jesus made to bring us back to God, His life and light immediately illuminate our spirits.

Our revived spirits are ready to go to work; however, our physical senses have told us how to respond to everything around us for so long that we are conflicted by old habits and new abilities. That’s why Paul reminds us that we are new creatures. The old person—ruled by the physical world—dies, and we become alive in Christ to forever be led by our spirit man.[1]

Although there are good people in the earth, the world we live in today has become extremely hostile and full of hate. The world exhibits the very nature of the god of this world, Satan. He opposes God, and wants to destroy the object of his hate—or we could say he opposes God’s love.

God’s design is to bring every man, woman and child back into fellowship with Him. As the ultimate Father, He doesn’t want to be separated from us. He loves us—no matter what!

[1] 2 Corinthians 5:17

All Because of Love

It’s been a journey for me, but over the years I have come to truly believe God is a good Father. From a very young age (maybe two years old) I’ve been aware of God’s presence in my life. He was always my friend. And I’ve come to trust that no matter what I do (or don’t do), He never changes. He is dependable, trustworthy and always responds to me with an abundant, overflowing, immeasurable love.

In Romans 5:8, God reveals His faith in action: But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Our Heavenly Father’s love is not an emotion, but a decision. Perhaps the very first decision God made about us was to love his creation (you and me) unconditionally.

Everything He’s done from the beginning of time is all because of love.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.[1]

He had faith that His creation (you and me) would return to fellowship with Him. God’s love produces goodness. Everything good originates from love. Everything bad is a distorted, twisted form of love. Because of His love for us, by faith, He gave Jesus.

God’s desire for relationship caused Him to create man, and that same desire continues to draw us to Him by His love working in us. I am so thankful He pursued me and never gave up.

First John 4:8 says, He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. It’s who and what He is. It’s His makeup—His essence— His character. So we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.[2]

Thank God He is conforming us into His image and likeness.

When we make a decision to accept Jesus, we choose by faith to accept Him, and what He’s done for us. Why should love be any different? We love God by our very act of faith—believing that He exists and accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We love God by accepting that He is a good God and wants the very best for us. This takes faith. And loving others takes a daily practice to choose to love no matter what.

As you choose to love others with God’s supernatural, unconditional love, what changes do you believe God for in your relationship with others? And in your relationship with him?

 

Triumphant, Only by Love

1 Corinthians 13 says, Love suffers long and is kind. One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story about Joseph, a highly favored, younger son, who truly suffered long and responded—in the end—with unconditional, amazing love.

Throughout my journey with him, I’ve learned God can take anything — even that terrible, horrible thing that happened to you or to someone you love — and use it for His goodness and glory.

Joseph’s ten older brothers were so jealous of him, they plotted to get rid of him (one even planned to kill him). They sold him into slavery and told their father a wild animal killed his favorite son. They even took the coat their father had made for Joseph, soaked it in the blood of an animal and presented it to their father as proof to back their story. You can read the full account in Genesis 37.

What was the catalyst that provoked Joseph’s brothers, you ask? Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers. In his dream he shared who his brothers would bow down to him, and with that the Bible says they hated him even more.[1]

But God, through the actions of Joseph’s jealous brothers, was able to save Joseph’s family during the years of famine that ravaged his nation many years later. After betrayal, slavery, prison, and finally finding his God-given place in a foreign land, Joseph’s ability to love and forgive his brothers in spite of all he’d been through at their hand gave life to his family and all of Israel.

Who do you need to respond to with unconditional, amazing love? Are you finding it difficult? Ask God today to show you how, and expect Him to take something once painful and use it for His goodness and glory.

[1] Genesis 37:5

Rain in Me Again!

I lived in the desert for nearly eight years, and there were only a few times of year we actually experienced rain. Monsoons are desert storms that pass quickly and dump a lot of rain. Growing up in Texas and Oklahoma, I learned to love the seasonal thunderstorms and warm summer rains.

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During a Florida vacation, our family was thrilled to exit the airport terminal to find ourselves in the middle of a soft, gentle summer rain. I walked out into the rain and let it sprinkle me with that familiar feeling a southern summer downpour. I had no concerns about getting wet; but instead let the water fall on me and refresh my soul.

Throughout that week near the beach, we experienced rain at least twice a day. I needed a vacation physically—but even more so, my heart and soul hungered for time in the Lord’s presence.

I was ready for His presence to consume me and fill me like rain floods the dry and thirsty grooves in the earth.

In my quiet and alone moments, I sat listening to the washing of the waves across the shells and sand on the beach. His presence and peace consumed me. I closed my eyes and took a deep drink of His refreshing presence.

Those who have been ransomed by the LORD will return to Jerusalem, singing songs of everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be overcome with joy and gladness (Isaiah 34:10 NLT).

You don’t have to get away to another state to drink in His refreshment. You can sit or stand quietly anywhere and open your heart to Him. He is faithful to quench your thirst.

“The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful.”

~E. E. Cummings