Question from a Site Viewer
In middle school I was an atheist. I didn’t believe that God existed. I was empty and depressed. A friend invited me to her church, so I went to her church’s youth group. The place seemed so refreshing and alive. I kept attending youth group hoping to find God. One night the pastor came to me and prayed. Suddenly I felt like I could sense my soul. It felt like it was being pulled upwards as if God was reaching down to my body and lifting my soul up under my arms to hug me. I was filled with overwhelming love that I haven’t experienced since this event. God showed me that He existed and that He loved me. But years have passed and nothing like this has happened again. Sometimes God feels a little bit close but that’s about it. Overall I feel that God is not close to me and that He is no longer interested in interacting with me.
Thanks for taking the time to share.
Your story has touched me and I want to encourage you to follow after Christ. The experience you had is very much like God. He comes and meets us and draws us to Himself. He wants a relationship with us. What you experienced reminds me of Peter, James, and John’s experience on the Mount of Transfiguration. There they saw Jesus in His glory. In our lives as we seek to follow God, God sometimes deems it appropriate to make Himself very real to us, in ways that are almost overpowering. Blaise Pascal, the famous French mathemetician (you may have used Pascal’s triangle in algebra), had an experience when he met God. He describes it as encountering the fire of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. These events can be transformative in one’s life.
But they are almost never repeated. If we seek for the same experience, we will spend our lives in fruitless wandering and we will be disappointed. We may feel that God is not close. God’s path for us is a journey. He generally does not revisit past experiences (those we tuck away in our memories of faith) but He leads us forward into a life of faith where we cling to His promises and seek His Son, Jesus Christ. And as we seek Him, we will have future experiences that are equally faith-building. But life is not most lived in these experiences; it is most lived in the in-between times. It is there that we shape our hearts to love Him supremely. It is in the in-between times that we count His promises to be true—even when we do not see and do not experience the closeness. One chapter of Scripture that has really challenged me is Lamentations 3. In the first part of that chapter, the prophet Jeremiah described His situation. It seemed as if God was his enemy, not hearing his prayer, and was around only to make life worse. Job described much the same sense in Job 19. Jesus cried out on the cross “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” In the times when we do not experience God, we are most tested. And at those moments we have the opportunity to act in a way that stupifies Satan. At those moments, we can look up and remember, and praise God for His presence (Hebrews 13:5) even when we do not sense it. This is what Jeremiah did. He paused (Lamentations 3:21) and looked up and remembered. He expressed his faith in a poignant and deeply moving way. The situation had not changed, but his thoughts moved from the situation to God Himself. And what he wrote was his chronicle of faith.
The Psalmist, in Psalm 73, wondered why the wicked seem to have it so well and those who seek God seem to suffer. But the Psalmist, like Jeremiah, looked up and remembered. In Psalm 73:17, his perspective changed and faith kicked in. In Psalm 73:26 he wrote “God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
It is when we are not experiencing the closeness of God that we most are tempted to sin. It is also at those very times that we are given the privilege of most demonstrating our faith towards God. I encourage you to read and memorize Scripture. Prepare your mind for a life of following Jesus. Learn to walk with Him in the quietness of your heart as well as in the boisterousness of life. Bring Him into everything you do. Talk with Him constantly. Live a life of asking and seeking and do not forget His answers and His presence. They may often surprise you. He is the God of joy and happiness, of peace and security. He is also the God who can handle our sorrow and is with us when we are in the presence of our enemies. The journey you have begun is the greatest in all the universe. It is a walk with the King, doing the mission of the King in the ordinary matters of life, and being a blessing to God and man.
May the Lord Jesus bless you.
a fellow pilgrim,