I remember when I first encountered the Lord. Out of a place of desperation, He met me. Everything seemed to change in an instant. My walk with Him seemed so easy in those first few seasons. I felt courageous and empowered. I felt near to Him and rested in the peace and joy that came from His presence. Since then, weeks and months and years have passed. Life has changed and relationships have shifted. Sweet friend, I want to be bold enough to tell you that I have looked back in longing on these first few seasons with the Lord and have been afraid that I did something wrong. Things aren’t always as easy as they used to be. There are times when God seems silent. He feels far. There are times when I wonder if I lost my chance for the passionate, faith-filled, vibrant life that I have believed so many times that other Christians must be living out.
I have had to tuck away the shame that stems from believing that I had somehow messed up in my relationship with God. I would look around me and see other Christians with their hands lifted high in worship. They seemed to be so enamored and consumed by the closeness they felt. I would see Bibles highlighted to the brim or journals that fill up in no time and think, “gosh, what glorious wisdom they get and what a connection with God they must have!” Because highlighting means deep spiritual connection, obviously. (I only underline, maybe that is my issue.) I felt as though my spiritual garden was growing weeds and withering up while others had their own gardens… Probably overflowing with peonies and overbooked with garden parties to exhibit their breathtaking and evergreen Eden.
Over time, the Lord has shown me that I’m not alone in these seasons. And neither are you! It is a valuable part of growing in Him. My human heart and want for quick-fixes still get in the way at times. It ebbs, back-and-forth. Between moments when I feel so near to the Lord into times when I feel so distant that I begin to feel it and see it affect my heart. But more than my shame or doubt or feelings of being less than is the overwhelming reassurance that there is no doubting my first encounter with the Lord and what He has done. There is no doubting how my life has forever changed because of His faithfulness and love. And if He was able to meet me where I was and give me a brand new life, then during each dry season I have had to hold onto the truth of knowing that He is more than enough for me.
Beloved, if you’re going through a season of feeling far from the Lord, then please first find peace in knowing you’re not alone. I have been there. I know others who have too. Even David, a man after God’s own heart, had times of feeling like God was being quiet or distant (Psalm 13, Psalm 22). I really believe that it is a part of the natural life of a Christian because of our human nature. Our hearts may wander, our focus may change, our seasons may shift – but these 3 ways to draw near to God will always bring your heart back to Him.
3 Ways to Draw Near to God When You Feel Far Away
1. Rest in Knowing That This Time Serves a Purpose
Sweet friend, how precious these moments are. How dear and sweet I truly believe that they must be to our Father. We are never alone, despite what our feelings may want to convince us. God has promised that He is with us always, until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). During these moments of feeling lonely, feeling ashamed or feeling frustrated – our understanding of this truth can become blurred. But on the other end of these times is such a sweeter relationship with the Lord. It is during these times that we learn to lean on Him. We long for Him. We see our human nature, our human anxieties, and our human fragility. It is during these winter seasons that we can better understand our need for Him, and we see how He meets it exceedingly. Rest in knowing that this time serves a purpose. You will live out the fruit of this moment.
2. Speak Life and truth Over Your Situation
When I feel distant from the Lord, I often find a symptom of that is not believing that what I’m going through or the distance I’m feeling is important to Him. This isn’t true. But if I’m not mindful, my thoughts often will wander to a place of desolation. We have to remember that our struggle is not against flesh and bone! Satan is the father of lies and will do whatever he can to take advantage of a vulnerable mind. I know that if I’m going through a dry or distracted season in my walk with God that my mind easily can fill with anxieties, worries, insecurity, and uncertainty. But the truth remains as a constant – He hasn’t left us, and He is near.
When you feel distant, proclaim the truth of who you are in God and what His promises are for you. The Bible promises that the tongue has the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21). Instead of allowing our anxieties and loneliness to continue to speak hopelessness over our situation, we have to replace that with the real Word of God. Even if your heart doesn’t seem in it or it is hard to resonate with these truths right away, know that in time it will. God’s promise to us is that His Word will not return void (Isaiah 55:11). If our lives are saturated with it, it will produce fruit! Write encouraging Bible verses regarding your situation or verses about who the Bible promises you are onto sticky notes or write them in notes on your phone. Place them anywhere you can see them. Begin to take captive your thoughts and make them obedient to what God says about you (2 Corinthians 10:15).
3. Find Hope In Knowing That This Isn’t Forever
I love the truth found in Psalm 40, and I love that David’s writing is brimming with such transparency. Verses 1-4 say (emphasis added),
“I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.“
Beloved, take heart. Many times throughout the Bible we are told to wait. To take heart, and wait on the Lord (Psalm 27:14). But the beauty of the waiting process is that it is not rooted in the Lord being slow. He has promised to give us a hope and future, not to harm us (Jeremiah 29:11). This dry season may seem painful, and it may seem endless. But know that He has promised hope for you, and He who has promised is faithful to complete the work He has started (Phil. 1:6).
Find strength in knowing that waiting on the Lord is not stagnant or passive. Waiting is a verb, and it is an active willingness to trust in the Lord. You are not giving up by choosing to believe that God will do what only He can do instead of trying to take this season into your own hands! You are submitting to His love and His provision. He will use this time for your good and is patient in seeing out the fruit of this season (Romans 8:28, 2 Peter 3:9). Dive into the Word, take time to pray. Wait expectantly. It may take a moment, it may take awhile – but seasons will change. And through this time, just like with David, He will put a new song in your mouth. He will give you a new story to tell of His grace. And many will see and fear the Lord because of it, and put their trust in Him.