Have you ever had a time in your life that God felt almost tangible to you? I have had many times like that. Unfortunately, in my life, it was often almost immediately followed by spells of perceived distance and the feeling of almost aloofness by the very same God. It is frustrating. Especially when I am aware of issues that I cannot seem to figure out on my own. I know in my head and heart that God is not the one who moved. But what do you do when you don’t even remember moving and don’t recognize where you are?
If you have 30 minutes, this is the BEST message I have ever heard on this subject. Craig Groeschel is one of my favorite pastors of all time and I love the way he illustrates this topic.
David was a man who drifted in and out of nearness with the Lord. The man after God’s own heart struggled with sin and experienced times where he felt so far from God, that he penned some of the most heart wrenching verses in our Bible describing the distance he felt.
I love this particular piece from the aforementioned article:
“The test of your faith is not when God’s presence is real, when you see God at work in your life. The real test of your faith is when God seems distant. Do you seek Him then? If you seek Him, you will find Him, but if you turn to the world or look for a quick fix for your problems without seeking God, you won’t find Him. Seek God especially when He seems distant.”
– Stephen J. Cole
David’s choice must be our choice as well. Lament, repent, seek, and praise. Even when the report is undeniably bad. When the salary is so low, you worry how you will make it. If the path is too steep and the pain is too great, trust the One who can see the entire journey. It is not meant to be easy because we live in a fallen world. Faith is not easy. It is as hard as we make it to be with the thoughts we choose to identify our situation with.
Sometimes, I choose poorly. I mull over things that I cannot control. I confuse myself with my own behavior. Like Pastor Craig mentioned in the sermon above, my life looks like I have been listening to “Bad Advice.” Why? No clue. I know better. Yet, I still fall prey to familiar patterns of thinking. Granted, these patterns never got me anywhere worth being before, but still, I repeat them.
The Message (MSG)
14-16 I can anticipate the response that is coming: “I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?” Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.
17-20 But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
Paul illustrates this perfectly. He suffered from similar feelings about his sin and his behavior. Two men of extraordinary faith shared their experiences with us through the Living Word. Why? I believe it is because God wanted us to connect with them and learn from them. So we could understand that God is bigger than our sin and any distance we could ever put between ourselves and Him. David and Paul also were recipients of personal restorations from God Himself. They poured out their frustrations and sought Him even when the what ifs became realities in their lives. And He showed up. How cool that the same God Paul and David knew intimately is the same then, today and tomorrow…