“It feels like whenever I pray about it, the worse case scenario still happens. I’m fighting really hard not to lose faith,” she shared as we sat cross-legged on the floor during Bible study.
My heart broke as it beat to an eerily familiar drum.
I know that feeling. I know how frustrating it can be…I know what it’s like to feel so stuck and far away from God that you begin to wonder if your faith is fake–not as real, personal, or strong as everyone else’s.
We almost begin to wonder if something is wrong with us, don’t we?
What do you do when you feel far from God? When you’re feeling like a whirling tornado of doubt, pain, fear, and shame has taken over your life and robbed you of your faith? I mean, how does one handle that?
That’s what I hope to help you with today because I’ve been there, too.
I’m a person, not a machine that’s “on” 24/7 or that never wrestles with Him. Growing closer to God is a process and a journey and the reality is that there will be pot holes along the way. We all go through deserts and we all drift a little…but that doesn’t mean we have to stay there.
I’m going to tell you right now that I don’t have a magic solution or three-step plan for you to fix it.
While I do encourage you to take action and keep pursuing the God who always pursues you, I know that all our stories are different and all of our hearts are in different places along the way.
That being said, I simply want to dare you to change something. It may be the simplest yet the hardest thing you have to change, but I’m going to dare you to change it, anyway.
I’m going to dare you to change your mindset–your whole perspective and entire understanding of what being close to God is in the first place.
If you look at His Word, the tool He uses to clearly communicate with us all that we need to know, you’ll find something interesting.
He never once says, “feel close to me.”
What does He say, then?
He DOES tell us to, “Know Him,” over and over.
Here are just a few examples:
“Thus you are to know in your heart that the LORD your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son.” Deuteronomy 8:5
“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death…” John 10:4
“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” John 17:3
“And to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:19
“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:8
Think about it like this: When we know someone well, we begin to grow in relationship with them and become friends, right? We begin to feel closer to them as a result of knowing their hearts, their characteristics, their ways, their desires, and ultimately–their love. But we have to take time to learn those things about them.
They can tell us some of those things through conversation so communication is important.
However, there are other things that we begin to see and learn as we interact with them, as we see them handle conflict, make decisions, and live each day. We get to know their hearts and character by observing their actions.
We can’t have one without the other if we hope to really get to know someone and connect with them as a friend. You can only know about them by reading their Instagram bio or asking basic questions. You really know them when we spend time with them day after day, listen to their heart, observe how they live, and do life with them.
The same is true when it comes to knowing God. It’s not just knowing about God that brings us closer, it means know Him–know His heart, as you would a friend or family member. It means opening up and letting ourselves be known. Vulnerability brings closeness in the very best way.
You get to know Him personally by communicating with Him through prayer, learning about Him and leaning into what He reveals in His Word but also by paying attention to His movements, seeing His actions, tuning into His silences, and trusting in His leading.
You get to know Him, you learn to love Him, by doing life with Him and more often than not, that’s possible by loving people that can’t love you back. Loving God is inseparable and impossible without loving His people because He has told us that when we serve and love the least of these, we serve and love Him.
The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40
I don’t know about you, but when I show up and serve others, I immediately experience a connection with them–even if I didn’t know them before.
Perhaps compassion driven by the heart of God creates connection with the heart of God that lives in the eyes of the blind, the beggars, and the broken.
Here’s the thing: You may not always get the warm fuzzies every time you read a Bible verse or when you pray, but I don’t always feel the warm fuzzies when I’m with my husband, yet I still choose to love him and serve him. I still get up and make dinner for him, I still ask him about his day, I still tune into his voice even when it’s not complimenting me or making me feel great about myself. We have to look at communicating and loving God the same way.
Life may not go how you like and every prayer may not get answered how you think it ought to be. But God is not your puppet and when we really know Him, we know that we wouldn’t want Him to be. We know that His ways are higher than our ways and we can walk in confidence of that, even when it hurts and especially when it’s hard.
You might feel really gross or guilty but when you know Him, when you walk with Him and invite Him into the darkest seasons and the driest deserts, you see how He handles our weakness and rebellion: with grace and mercy.
So, when your heart begins to wander, when you walk through hard seasons, or when your shame make you feel incredibly far from God, we have to remember that God is not a feeling but a faithful friend and Father. And true friends love at all times (Proverbs 17:17). Faithful fathers are never far from their children.
Friend, the God of the Universe is not too big or distant or mighty to hang out in your living room. He’s not as far as you think. He knows you and wants you to know Him. Simply feeling close to Him won’t cut it because feelings are fleeting. It won’t give you a solid, unshake-able faith like knowing Him will.
Because God doesn’t want you to FEEL close to Him. He wants you to BE close to Him.
Remember: When we are faithless, He is faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). He’s never far, even when we separate ourselves. Distance doesn’t exist in God’s Kingdom unless we choose to create it. You draw near when you stop drawing lines in the sand, drop your facades, and decide to learn, listen, and lean into observe and follow His lead.