We all go through times when it feels like God has distanced himself from us. It seems like we are crying out for his help, but it doesn’t seem like he is there. I feel like God is teaching me recently that he doesn’t distance himself from us, but we distance ourselves from him. We busy ourselves so much with the things of this world that we aren’t looking to God or being relational with him.
We just got back from a week at summer camp. We were able to go as chaplains and talk to the campers about Jesus. One of the things we told them is that God is always available for us, but we aren’t always available for him.
If you are stuck feeling like God is far from you, here are a few steps that you can take to draw closer to him. These aren’t in any particular order. To fully draw close to God we should be practicing all of them.
1.) Remove all Distractions
We live in a world where everything is right in front of us and we can get mostly anything we want immediately. We are afraid of silence and we don’t want a lot of time in silence. When we do have quiet time we turn to social media, television, or other people. We are essentially making these things idols and putting them in front of God. When we remove distractions, we are taking down a wall that separates us from him.
2.) Get in the Word
I also told campers that much of my childhood faith was taught to me instead of me reading it for myself. I didn’t go digging into the word to find God’s truths, because they were taught to me and I didn’t think that I needed to read them for myself. As an adult I have gotten into his word and it is amazing how close I feel to him. I feel like he reveals new things to me all the time about his character and how much he loves and cares for me.
God’s word is his way of communicating his truths to us. It is his way of showing us his love and teaching us how to obey him.
There are so many Bible reading plans out there and good studies that really help you dig into the word. I would suggest that you get out there and find one that works for you! Peter and I are doing a plan from Biblegateway.com. There are so many plans out there. Do your research!
Again, praying and letting God know how we feel about anything is also essential to feeling close to him. I think prayer has been a struggle for me most of my life because I don’t always feel like I get a response. For the last 3 months I have started a prayer journal and it has empowered me to pray bolder prayers and feel God’s presence more in my life. It also enables me to remember loved ones and friends more easily. So when I tell someone I will pray for them I don’t drop the ball because I have it all written down in one place.
This is the one I use. I really like it because it goes month by month and helps me look back and even has a section for answered prayers! It has been so nice to see at the end of the month. Also, I am not getting any reimbursement for the link, I just thought I would share the one that I use and love.
Many of our sins stem from our pride. I think pride essentially lets us think that we know more than God. Pride allows us to take our own path instead of considering what God wants to do with our lives. When we are prideful, we can’t be used by God because we think our own way is better. Ouch! My own way better than God’s? It sounds incredibly silly when we say it out loud, but how can God use us when we are being defiant?
One of my favorite verses of the bible is John 3:30 “He must become greater; I must become less.”
It seems so simple, but we don’t usually follow this verse and when we don’t it creates a big divide between us and our creator.
God has been teaching me lately that he loves to hear praise for what he created. He has created so many beautiful things in this world. Recently I have been talking to our kids about simple things like watching the wind blow through the trees. It is beautiful and mesmerizing to see God at work in our world today. The photo above was taken last week at camp. God gave us so many gorgeous views and it felt like he was right there with us.
Instead of just saying, “Look at the wind blow through the trees,” we can say, “Look how God is blowing the wind through the trees, he makes things so beautiful.” That way we are giving credit where it is due!
I want to walk through a little exercise with you. I want you to imagine a person in your life doing to you the things that we do to God.
1.) You are spending time with your significant other and you are looking forward to it, but they will never look up from the screen in front of them to acknowledge you. They tell you occasionally that you mean a great deal to them, but they never slow down to take in the relationship in front of them.
2.) You have a friend that only wants to talk about themselves. They go on and on and on about their likes, dislikes, plans, and interests but they never take time to learn more about you.
3.) You have been meaning to get together with your significant other for a long time to talk about life and enjoy each other’s company. Your significant other keeps blowing you off with different excuses every time. You want to know them and enjoy relationship and they say the same about you but they never invest the time to do it.
4.) Your children disrespect you and won’t be obedient. They don’t want to listen to your ideas for their life or your hopes and dreams for them. They know a better way and don’t want any of your help.
5.) You work hard to provide a nice life for your children, but they never say thank you or show any appreciation. You feel very taken advantage of.
If we look back on these scenarios I think most of us would feel pretty hurt under these circumstances. It doesn’t feel nice to have someone not spend any time with you or disrespect you. It is hard when people treat us that way.
Unfortunately, all those things that we said would hurt our feelings if a friend, spouse, or child acted that way towards us is how we treat God. We busy ourselves to the point of not spending time with him; we don’t want to get in his word and know more about him; we don’t communicate with him and when we do we treat him like an ATM machine; we think we know better than him; and we are ungrateful very rarely giving thanks for the things he has provided us. It feels heavy when I realize that I am the selfish one not willing to give God my all.
The last way to grow closer to God is:
Some of what takes us away from God is our guilt and shame for our sin. God knows our hearts, souls, and minds. There isn’t anything that we can hide from him, but yet we try to. Adam and Eve hid from him in shame in the Garden of Eden and we do it still today in our own lives. God created a way for us (sinners) to be connected with him again. He is not asking for our perfection, he is asking for our hearts. He wants us to trust in him and know that Jesus truly did pay it all. We don’t need to hide in guilt and shame but we do need to ask for forgiveness and turn from the path we were taking.
Even after we treat him poorly, God is right there waiting for us to come back to him. He wants our attention, love, and communication. He wants us to get in his word and find out more about him. He wants us to understand that apart from him we can’t do anything and he wants us to thank him for the wonderful gifts he gives us.
If you are feeling like God is distant from you, maybe try these things and see how you can draw closer to him instead of pushing him away. Our lives were meant to be spent living closely united with our creator.