Sunday, June 26, 2011

Why Is God So Hard to Find? (Part 1)

In the last post I explained why we need to keep on seeking God and not give up, even when we feel we're coming up empty. This post and the next one are meant to consider some of the reasons why God can seem so distant or absent. I compared this feeling in the last post with a well that is no longer giving water. But why would God stop refreshing us when we come to Him in need?

It would be one thing if you were stubbornly sinning, and trying to have a deep relationship with God without confessing that sin and turning away from it. That's an obvious problem. But I am assuming here that you've already searched your heart and there isn't any stubborn refusal to confess sin. You simply can't find a reason for why God suddenly seems distant or absent. You know you're not perfect, but you've been seeking Him and trying sincerely to follow Him. So what happened?

Here's some of what my experience and the Scriptures have taught me:

1. Perhaps, without knowing it, you've only been skimming the shallowness of the water, and there are deep wells below that which will refresh you beyond anything you've ever experienced. God may be saying: "I love you completely, and I will never give up on you. But this living at 75% of your fullness must stop. Dig deep and experience me fully so that you will live your life with freedom and boldness!" God knows you won't dig down and find the deep satisfaction waiting for you unless He leaves you no choice. As long as the shallow water is enough to get by on, we're likely to just skim it off and try to make it through the day. One way I've realized this in my life is in reading the Bible much more deeply and intensely than ever before. Where I might have read a passage four or five times, and thought I grasped it well enough, deep concentration and prayer have often revealed truth and wisdom in the words that I never saw before.

If reading the Bible or praying aren't fulfilling your need for God's spirit like they used to, and you double your efforts to press in and experience God, you often find self-awareness or knowledge of God you never had before. Some of the Scriptures that have impressed themselves on me during times like this have become the most precious words in the Bible to me. They encourage me more than just about anything else, and they often encourage me when nothing else will. Imagine if God stopped up your well and left you parched with thirst, so you would dig feverishly down and down, because He knew there was a magnificent ruby buried down there. When you find something as precious and valuable as those Scriptures have become to me, all the dryness and pain seem well worth it. Suddenly you find that God has so much more to give you to sustain you and bring you joy than you ever realized.

2. Another possibility is that God is preparing you for something much more important and more significant than you've ever experienced before. Instead of your relationship with God being off track, it may be that what you've been doing in your relationship with God has been precisely right, and thus you've matured and grown in your faith. Now you're prepared to handle something greater than you ever imagined. God doesn't call us to lounge about in His courts. He calls us to take up the battle against darkness and bring light to those still enslaved to sin. In order to meet the challenge, He knows you need to have access to a much greater store of faith and confidence than you ever had before. As Hebrews 12:7-11 describes, God is treating you as an heir and training you to stand firm in righteousness.

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