Question from a Site Viewer
In middle school I was an atheist. I was depressed, empty and devoid of emotion. I went to church with a friend and I experienced God. He came to me in such a powerful way. I literally felt His presence fill my body. It was such an amazing and unforgettable experience. Since that time I’ve waited for God to give me another such experience. But it’s been a few years and nothing similar has ever happened again. It’s as if I’m spiritually dead. Life just continues day to day and nothing seems special anymore. Why can’t I be close to God again? Where is God?
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. 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 is describing His situation. It seems as if God is his enemy, not hearing his prayer, and is around only to make life worse. Job describes much the same sense in Job 19. Jesus cried out on the cross “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” At those moments of time when we do not experience God, we are most tested. And at those moments of time 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 pauses at Lamentations 3:21 and looks up and remembers. He expresses his faith in a poignant and deeply moving way. The situation has not changed, but his thoughts move from the situation to God Himself and what he writes is his chronicle of faith.
The Psalmist does the same thing in Psalm 73, wondering why the wicked seem to have it so well and those who seek God seem to suffer. But the Psalmist, like Jeremiah, looks up and remembers. In Psalm 73:17, his perspective changes and faith kicks in. He states in Psalm 73:26 that “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,