There are times in life when the ground beneath your feet doesn’t feel solid, fixed, or secure. It’s a scary feeling. It’s as if the rug’s been pulled out from under you and you’re left to drift through life, desperately seeking a footing.
We’ve all been there. Some of us are there now. We approach God and hear nothing. His overwhelming presence isn’t like it once was and we wonder why, why does He feel so distant?
Well, I’m here to tell you: I don’t know why, exactly. But, after being through times of silence and distance from Him (even if they’re just perceived) I’ve learned a few possibilities.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.”
Jeremiah 31:3 (NASB)
His love is everlasting. It doesn’t change, ever. How He feels about me is the same today as it was yesterday and won’t change tomorrow. Because of the everlastingness of His love, he draws me into Himself with His lovingkindness. He loves me enough to give me the greatest thing in the entire universe – Himself.
As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I’m revering the One that will bring me through. (Psalm 23:2,4)
Sleep is a gift.
I never realized how much so until I couldn’t get it. It’s not that I didn’t want to sleep (I don’t know many adults that don’t want to sleep!), or that my body wasn’t craving it, it just wouldn’t come.
It was elusive.
Though sleep was hiding from me, I was still dreaming, dreaming of those lovely moments when I can feel myself drifting away – my body getting heavier and heavier and my bed getting comfier and comfier. Musing over the moment when I can feel myself sinking in, my bed welcoming the weight of my body and wrapping me in its warm embrace. (Okay, now I’m just making myself tired.)
I had a few of those moments, but they each ended with a jolt of consciousness and sleep hiding in the shadows. (I don’t find those moments as lovely.)
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
When your focus is on one thing it’s natural for everything else to become a blur. Even though you see what’s around it, they’re not clear; for it’s only possible to focus on one thing at a time. Have you ever tried to focus your eyes on multiple things at once? I have. It makes my brain hurt.
Jesus calls us to live a simple life, not the life of disorder and chaos.
Last spring I shifted my daily routine from exercising first thing and squeezing in a quiet time to having my quiet time first thing and exercising later. The fruit of just a minor change was amazing – my attitude improved, my outlook on life was better, I had more clarity and discernment, and best of all my relationship with God was richer, deeper, and satisfying. But sometime in the last few months my habits shifted back to my old ways and the fruit I had was shriveling up. When crunched for time I’d spend less time with God instead of exercising and I noticed an increase in anxiety, the feeling of distance from God, and uncertainty in decision-making. Thankfully after a relatively short season of confusion, God made it clear to me why I was feeling the way I was. So, I’ve committed to start my day with Him. If I don’t get to work out that day, then so be it. It’s better to miss that than my time with God. (1 Timothy 4:8)
I want everything to be clear and understandable at. all. times. I’m all for God being the one to give me the direction and the focus, (He really is the only one that can.) but why doesn’t He do it more often? It seems like the more I step out the more confusion and chaos I feel. I start to question His voice and wonder if He even told me to step out in the first place. Doubts creep in and worry takes over. I physically have trouble breathing and I feel like I’m drowning in the questions that mostly don’t even need to be asked, let alone have an answer.
Like I talked about in the first post I ever wrote (here), God does call us to step out of the boat, out of our comfort zone. But, did you notice that when Jesus told Peter to step out He was calling him out into the storm?!
So, what do we do when we feel like this? When our focus is blurred and there are a million and a half things being thrown in our direction and pulled from our grips. (Have you ever tried to hold onto something while in a raging storm? It’s pretty impossible, especially if what you’re clinging to is of little weight.)
This past week’s been a tough one. My anxiety has flared it’s ugly head and I’ve found myself trapped in a vicious cycle of negative mind-talk and overall feelings of inadequacy and burden.
There isn’t a specific reason this started, (I’m sure it’s a cluster of reasons) but I’m done trying to over-analyze this beast. It’s here, I hate it, but I know it’s not here to stay. This time, instead of dwelling on why it’s here, I’m going to work on how to get rid of it; all the while praying that if it be beneficial for me to know the why (to hopefully prevent future “visits”) that God would make it clear. I’m done wasting my energy on the wrong question.
So how am I getting rid of it this time? I’m taking that adage “Don’t look back, you’re not going there” and doing the opposite. (Leave it to me to do the opposite…) Granted, I’m not going back to where I was, but I’m allowing myself to go back, to remember, the times God has brought be through before – so many times before (Psalm 77:11).
God is in control. Like complete and total control. He is sovereign. He can do (and does) anything He pleases (Psalm 115:3), and it pleases Him to use us for the good of others and His glory (Philippians 2:13). The fact that He chooses us, beckons us even, to be a part of His greater plan is amazing (and that word doesn’t seem sufficient).
When taken wrongly, to think that He uses us for His great purpose can feel like a burden, a huge pressure. It’s a big deal to follow Him! The things He asks of us not only affect ourselves but the lives of those closest to us, of the world, and even future generations. It’s heavy stuff. But, Jesus says that His way isn’t heavy, He specifically says that His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). But, how can that be? I mean, it’s such a big deal!