Can you remember the first time you ever met Christ, or the first time He ever met you? It is life altering, to say the least. He showed us His love for the first time, and we saw with new eyes the weight and beauty of His cross. Searching the Bible, listening to sermons, fellowship with believers; all of these gifts of grace were loved and desired for the first time. We pursued with all of our might, and with great joy. I will never forget it, that day when I realized my zeal for God had lessened. I hated it to be completely honest. I Immediately decided to "try harder." I spent more time reading the Bible. I read more books about the bible and topics on Christianity by sound authors. I took up journaling more seriously, I took more notes during sermons at church...anything I could think of! It was about two months of my trying before I went to my pastor for counsel.
I told him about my struggle, and he did not seem surprised. This is because ALL Christians have these seasons. So if you, Christian, currently find yourself in this way, know that it is normal! There is nothing wrong with you, assuming that you have asked the Lord to show any sinful matters that might be the cause of feeling distant from Him. This may be a time where you question if you really are a Christian. Many true Christians even have these doubts at times. The answer is always "look to Christ." However, most of us already know that, and it does not always get us out of the ditch. After my pastor encouraged me to not feel like something terrible had happened, he did give advice that has never left me. He gave an analogy of a baby. When a baby is newly born, it is held and carried, responded of it's every cry. However, when it is time for the baby to learn how to crawl, the loving parent allows the child to struggle along the floor in an effort to help it grow. The parent is still right there with the child, never leaving its presence. This is similar spiritually as well. After being held for a period of time, God will let us learn how to grow in faith. Like the loving parent, God never leaves us. He stays right next to us as we struggle to crawl. Also, as the perfect Father, He knows the right time to pick us back up and to comfort.
God is still there with you, even when He feels very far away. You must preach that to yourself when doubts plague your mind. I said preach to yourself for a reason. We have a tendency to look at our faith in order to measure where we are. Examining yourself will never bring you into closer fellowship with God. It will oftentimes do the opposite. We have nothing good in ourselves to look at or congratulate. All the good we may see come from Him. Do not look to yourself. Do not study your feelings. There is a principle that I read from a women named Francis Havergal. In short, she says that it does no good to look at the temperature in an effort to warm yourself. No, we go to the fireplace! We cannot grow closer to God by looking at our feeling. His blood determines our salvation, not our feelings. Feelings change, our Salvation never will.
Some Helpful Points
1. We cannot change our feeling, but we can change our gaze
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1
When walking with Christ, sometimes we look at our feet to see our progress. However, we are not trying to get closer to our feet. We want to grow closer to God. When you find yourself walking anywhere, you rarely look only at your feet. We take glances to make sure we are on the right path, but we keep most of our focus on the direction of were we are going. Looking at your faith, or your feet, will not help you grow closer to God. Look to Him, the object of your first desire!
2. Talk to yourself
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation Psalm 42:5
Yes, you will need to remind yourself of what is true, because your feelings have a lot to say...and they scream louder than the truth during these times. You must not trust your faulty thoughts. Do not believe your doubts. I have heard it said plainly, "Doubt your doubts and trust your beliefs." And by your beliefs, I mean Scripture. Talk back to your unbelief in times of darkness.
3. An Opportunity to love
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12
God matures us through times of distance. This is where our faith is tested. We walk by faith during this season. Though it might not be that you are overjoyed at the thought of opening your Bible and finding yet again coldness towards Him, forsake the flesh and be led by the Spirit. This is your opportunity to show love to Him by faithfully coming, not because you feel it, but because you love Him.
I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes I will remember your wonders of old. Psalm 77:11
Follow the example of David and remember what God has done. Pull out journals, think back over your life, and remember when He made Himself known to you personally. God reminded Israel not to forget what He had done for them. The enemy will pounce, but remind yourself of God's goodness. It is helpful even to go to Scripture to see what He has done. Think of what Jesus has accomplished on the cross, and the work of regeneration he has done in your heart.
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify you name forever. Psalm 86:12
We can also follow David in doing this with the Psalms. David would question God, or cry out in despair in one verse, but he usually ends with praise. Sing songs to Him, go outside and praise God for His creation. Praise Him just for who He is. Turn on some worshipful music and turn your heart towards Him.
He will not leave His precious child. He is right there with you now. When we talk of distance, we do not mean physically. We are talking about distance experimentally. One truth that I grabbed from a sermon I once heard has helped me through some dry season. My heart may be cold towards Him, but His heart is never cold towards me! This is so true! He is always pursuing us!
A.W. Tozer said "And always He is trying to get our attention, to reveal Himself to us, to communicate with us." We are pursuing Him, because He is pursuing us first.
What has helped you during times of dryness?
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