Nov 17 2013
When God Seems Far Away: A Young Wife and Mom Asks an Honest Question

Consider this possibility: God gives us certain "spiritual feelings" for a season, like a dad holding up his toddler… and then we learn to walk.

 

Hi Brant,

 

I grew up in the church, that's all I have really ever known. When i was 17 i gave my life to the Lord and the next few years were really a blessing, I grew in my relationship with him and started to see him in a way i had never before. Now, I'm 23, a wife and a mom and I love it, but the past three years have been hard on my relationship with God.

 

I have started to wonder about my faith. It's hard to see the point. I wonder why do I pray? I know that God is going to do what he will and me praying won't change it. People tell me pray to be close to God but i feel like im talking to the wall. I'm in a very empty place in my walk with God.

 

Sorry to bother you but i just thoght maybe you would have some advice for me. 

 

Thanks so much!

Lindsay

 

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Great question!

 

Lindsay, I almost always feel like I'm talking to the wall when I pray. I've gotten used to it. 

 

I don't prefer it. I wish I felt more. But this used to bother me a LOT when I was your age (In fact, I, too, was about 20 when I started asking people about this feeling that God has left the building.)

 

The bad news is, I'm still "there". Things haven't changed much, in terms of feelings. And I'm old, compared to you. It's been a long time.

 

The good news is: God is still there, too. 

 

I can't look back and say, "Yep, God left me when my feelings left," because of the way my life has unfolded. It's not likeHis blessings stopped. It's not like His protection stopped. It's not like He stopped using me.

 

So I keep praying, anyway. And, in a few occasions - not lots, but a few - I've seen immediate, hard-to-explain-otherwise answers to prayer. 

 

God doesn't come and go with our feelings. Truth is, you've gone through HUGE changes in your life, stressful ones, and you're a different person than you were as a teenager. Your focus is different, your daily goals are different, and, being amom, your body chemistry is even different.

 

Consider this possibility: God gives us certain "spiritual feelings" for a season, like a dad holding up his toddler… and then we learn to walk.

 

Why pray?  A few reasons:

 

Jesus prayed. And I'm told to do it. It's obedience. And, like other things I'm told to do, I need a childlike trust that it's best for me to do it.

 

Second: It changes me. Especially when I'm praying for others, it softens my heart toward them. It brings me in line with God's heart for people. 

 

Third: It becomes a refuge, a quiet place. You've likely noticed by now that the world makes no sense. It's bluster andnoise and signs and commercials and chatter and headlines and hype. But prayer, especially the kind where we put down the iPhone, gives us a break.

 

And the best reason: I'm convinced your presupposition that "God is going to do what He will and my prayer won't change it" isn't true.

 

Lindsay, you've embarked on a relationship, just like with your husband. And you're not relating to Siri. You're relating to a Person. There are examples of people in the Bible openly BARGAINING with God, like Abraham. Or wrestling with Him, like Jacob. 

 

Jesus tells us we can relate to God like a widow who was seeking justice from a judge. She just kept pestering him, until he gave her what she wanted. If God is a computer, all binary code and inevitability, prayer is way less interesting. 

 

But He's not.

 

Jesus tells us to ask the Father for what we need. It matters. And, it makes sense, too: God DOES have a desire for the right things to be done, but He allows us the freedom to do it, or not. Just like with feeding the hungry: He wants them fed, but allows us to play a role in it, and waits for us to at. Prayer may be very similar. Maybe things go wrong, sometimes, because we didn't ask. 

 

I think prayer is taking action.

 

I don't have all this figured out, but I'm confident on that last part. If God is our Father, and we are His adopted children, He is waiting to be asked. 

 

So I ask, feelings or no. Don't wait for the feelings to come back, because you'll miss out. Use prayer as a break from your daily life, and ask God for eyes to see meaning and beauty amidst the routines of motherhood.

 

And - I keep telling people this - relax. It's not only not about your feelings, or your performance, it's not about you, at all. We're in HIS story, and the weight of the world, and the weight of your "rightness" with God, needn't rest on your already-tired mommy shoulders. 

 

He's good that way.

 

Mar 11 2013
If Jesus Had a Blog: Go and Sin No More!

What up!

Haven't blogged for awhile because Matthew ditched his Mac and got an iPad, which he says is great, but I can barely type on the thing.  (So NOT a replacement for a laptop.) I'm a carpenter. I build stuff. I'm not a super-typist.

Anyway: MAN, this planet is off-kilter. Seriously. 

For example, these religious leaders today. They decided to stone a woman to death, because they caught her in adultery.  (Where's the guy she was with? Don't ask. Double-standard.)

Anyway, they're all the "good", Bible-reading, law-keeping sort, and take "stands" against sin - other people's, anyway. So I pointed out that they could go ahead and do that, provided none of them have sinned. 

That ticked them off (surprise!) and they left.

And I told the lady that I didn't condemn her, and to go and sin no more.

This made her VERY happy.

Posted today at 4:32 p.m.

 

------------------

COMMENTS

 

Well, Jesus, I'm sure your well intended, but once again, your not really teaching her a lesson.  She DID sin, and sin is serious. Those were some of our top Bible teachers there today, and you certainly came off like you think its OK to do adultery.  

Again, I know you're well intended, but you can't let people think its OK to sin.

-- lizlovesjesus21

Ya, I agree with Liz up there. It's one thing to be for "grace", because we ALL are for that, of course, but its another thing to just let her walk away after what she did.  You probably had some kids watching, too, who now think God is just fine with sexual immorality.  

Grace is great, BUT... we can't be all "grace, grace, grace..."  

-- randy_g

Jesus, you're throwing the baby out with the bathwater, again.  There's a whole movement of people like you who are just trying to be "cool", and aren't taking a stand against adultery. I'm sure it earns you friends, but at what cost?  You can take the grace thing TOO FAR.  

-- christie

I've been reading your blog for awhile, Jesus, and I'm afraid I'm going to have to switch blogs.

I know you're God and so forth, and I go to church multiple times a week to be on your good side, along with my kids.  But they read this blog, too, and they are going to get the idea that, when they grow up, it's okay to have adulterous sex.  That's not something I want them to be doing.  

I like the stuff you said about how we need to be a GOOD person.  Maybe stick to that.  I'm switching to a blog that's safer for my family.

-- concerned mom

Well, I like the "sin no more" part, but in our culture, so many people just ignore that.

-- Bill

Wait: Are you guys serious?

You honestly think this woman's life wasn't totally changed by this? You honestly think the law changes people, deep-down? 

You'd seriously RATHER they kept their law and killed her?  

You guys genuinely don't think you're just as guilty as she is?  

You think if people are afraid of the law, their hearts will be right with God, and they'll stop sinning?

UH... obvious question here, but... have YOU?

You actually say, "Grace, BUT..."?  Like you really, truly WANT a "but" when it comes to the grace God is showing YOU?

REALLY?

You're worried about the example for everyone ELSE, when you, yourselves have sinful hearts, and you're fully aware of the law?

You WANT to be under the law?

You'd RATHER have big-shot religious leaders pretend they've got their moral acts together, so your kids learn to be THAT way?

You think, "I don't condemn you, go and sin no more," doesn't take sin seriously enough?  Do you think what Jesus does on the cross takes sin "seriously enough" to cover this woman's sin?

Or, let's be honest here, you'd actually rather it didn't.  That way you can keep your, "Grace, BUT..."

You know what?  It's sad, really. Apparently, you haven't experienced grace at all, like this woman just did, or you'd never have this reaction. 

-- Paul of Tarsus

Yeah, Jesus, I'm with most of the people here.  Grace is great and all, but you can over-do it.

I *know* you've got a good heart, and love how you've healed some people, etc.

But just telling someone to "sin no more" after taking away the consequences isn't going to work.

She'll just go do it again, since now she doesn't have to worry about the consequences because you got involved.

-- Ed H.

Yeah, I'm confused, Jesus. I thought you came to teach us how to stop sinning. If that was your point, then why would you do this?

I mean, if you're whole point is "Stop sinning NOW!" it doesn't make any sense that you would do something like this. 

-- Ashlie23asdfasdf

HEY THERE I TOTALLY WORK FROM HOME AND MAKE $36 AN HOUR AND YOU CAN TOO!!!!  I NEVER THOUGHT IT WOULD HAPPEN TO ME JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND START MAKING DREAMS COME TRUE WWW.WORKFROMHOMEMAKEMONEY.ORG/BIGBUCKS  

-- iworkfromhome

Well, Jesus, I happen to know several of the men you TRIED to embarrass today. And they are EXCELLENT men of God.  So for you to side with a KNOWN adulteress, in front of everyone, when THEY were just doing what God's law calls for, well, that's terrible.

I can see why they are really made at you.  And you claim to be a Christian!

-- Upset

jesus i am so glad u rescued me, to. 

-- horsegurl9

 

Jan 25 2013
Email: Why Do I Feel Far Away from God?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hey Brant,

So I have been feeling really far away from God reasently. I've tried praying and reading my Bible but nothing is changing. Do you have any advise? 

Thanks,

Maddie

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Hey Maddie!

A couple thoughts about this:

I have felt like this before.  MANY times, and sometimes... for years.  

I've thought, "Maybe I'm sinning so much, and maybe that's the problem." And I had people even questioning whether I was really a Christian at all.  But I don’t think that was it.  I was honestly calling out to God for forgiveness, honestly calling out to him for some kind of sign, or reassurance that he was the there – all that.  

And you know what?  I'm a stronger believer now. 

Turns out, the "feelings" element of our relationship is a wonderful thing, but FAITH is not founded on that. If we're dependent on it, we begin to mistake feelings for reality.  We are called to actually TRUST God. 

You can hear the words "trust God" or "trust Jesus", and they start to lose their meaning after awhile.  But now, now that you have no warm, God-is-here feelings, you really DO have to trust him, and what he has promised you.  "I am with you, always," Jesus said.

Always.  He's with you, whether you feel it or not.

I even think, now, that the loss of that God-is-close feeling helped me understand him more, and my faith is more mature.  

Some of my "heroes", the people I admire for their faith, have gone through the same thing, sometimes for decades.

This is not a reason to despair.  It IS a reason to re-think what a relationship with God might look like.  Remember, God blesses us in many ways, not just feelings.  And – this is REALLY important – God wants us to want him for HIMSELF, not for the stuff he gives us.  

As a father, I "get" this.  I want my kids to love ME, their loving dad, and not just for the fact that I give them stuff like, say, food, a phone, college, or even warm, protected feelings.  I want them to love me not for what they get, but because they freely can love someone besides themselves.

And THAT, of course, is real love.  If they love ME, I'm thrilled. In our relationship with God, valuing his GIFTS higher than God, himself, is actually idolatry.  He's a jealous lover. And he's good. He knows the "stuff", even feelings, aren't, ultimately, what we need.  What we need is him.

So be honest with him, call out to him, even be open about your anger or frustration. But TRUST him, and know that he may be taking you to a place you haven't been before.

One last thing. Someone gave me a brief example on this:  If I'm in a large room with you, and I'm yelling our conversation, you can hear me just fine.  But if I whisper, just barely whisper, you can only hear me…

...if you come closer.

I think there's something to that.  And I think there's something maturing about just KNOWING God is good, being reminded by other believers that he is good, and serving people, even without the feelings. 

Okay, one REALLY last thing.  I mean it this time, since I have a meeting to go to:  Our feelings are just plain untrustworthy, anyway.  

They're dependent on so many things that have NOTHING to do with the subject of our feelings.  Like, am I sleeping enough?  Have I eaten well today? Am I hydrated? Have I had too much (or not enough!) coffee?  Am I exercising? What's happening to me, physically, right now? Am I tired? Have other things happened that have been really stressful, like a break-up, or a move, or a death in the family, or even something good, but big and stress-inducing, like a recent trip?  Many reasons to be suspicious of our feelings.

So many factors. Everything changes.  

He does not.

God bless you, Maddie!

Best,

Brant