Do you feel distant from God? Do you struggle to connect with God on a deeper level? Are you discouraged by the state of your relationship with God? Whether or not you relate to feeling distant at this current point in your life, many people will experience seasons of feeling distant from God over the course of their life time. This blog post is meant to be one in a series of posts addressing the struggle of feeling distant from God. Let me briefly provide some background for what will unravel over the course of the next several months.
Early on in my Christian faith I recall being baffled that Christians would sometimes report feeling "distant from God." I was initially taken aback by this revelation. I wrongly believed that individuals who state they are Christians automatically have a close relationship with God. I have since had my own struggles feeling distant from God. The vastness of this struggle to feel close to God became even more clear to me as I started to engage in counseling with Christians. People who sat across from me struggled to make the connection between their heads (what they know to be true about God), and their hearts (experiencing the peace and joy that comes from knowing God intimately).
I have found that many Christians I have counseled are not completely transparent and open about their struggles with connecting with God. Hence, this issue is not talked about as much as it should be. Two major contributing factors for this appear to be shame (i.e., hiding from one another out of fear of being exposed and known) and pride (i.e., we don’t need other people, we can be self-sufficient beings). I am left wondering, if I am seeing many Christians in counseling sessions report feeling distant from God, then is it possible that other Christians are struggling with the same thing? Is feeling distant from God only unique to those I see in counseling? Or, is it more universal and the people I see are a small sample size of a greater struggle?
The blog series will explore common issues people may experience that prevent them from experiencing God on a deeper level. We'll then dig into strategies for helping make the connection between the head and the heart. If you choose to embark on this journey, then please know it is not for the faint of heart. You will likely face things that you will have to make decisions about - do you continue on in hopes of connecting your head to your heart, or do you jump ship when the waters start to get rough? When it comes to reflecting on your relationship with God, you may find it difficult or uncomfortable due to past or present relational issues with others or God. Embarking on this journey may lead you to think and process thoughts and emotions that are discomforting. Seeking to engage God in a meaningful and personal way can be a joyful experience while also being painful and frightening.
When it comes to engaging God I am reminded of C.S. Lewis’ book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Lucy, the youngest of four siblings, finds herself in Narnia talking to the Beavers about Aslan.
“Is he a man?” asked Lucy. “Aslan a man!” said Mr Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is King of the wood and the son of the great emperor-beyond-the-sea. Don’t you know who is the King of the Beasts? Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great lion.” “Ooh!” said Lucy, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” “That you will, dearie, and no mistake” said Mrs Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.” “Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy. “Safe?” said Mr Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
Seeking to encounter God in a deep personal way can be a scary and frightening experience. He’s not predictable or controllable. Encountering a powerful wild animal, such as a lion, will cause the bravest person’s knees to shake and be unsteady. To stand in the presence of something more powerful than ourselves stirs within us a holy reverence. How much more so when we seek to know God? The prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 6 found himself in the presence of God, and he stated, ”Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Isaiah cursed himself (i.e., “Woe is me!”) and then felt himself come undone psychologically to the point of seeing himself exposed and naked -- a man of unclean lips and intentions. As you seek to make the connection between your head and your heart, and seek to encounter God more intimately, it’s likely you’ll get glimpses of yourself kneeling before the King fully exposed and vulnerable. It’s both frightening and liberating at the same time; fully exposed and known and yet also fully accepted and loved. Are you ready?
A prayer for you: Abba Father, I pray for the readers who choose to embark on this journey toward growing deeper with you. I also pray for those who are ambivalent about embarking on this journey. You know each and every one of the readers of this blog (Psalm 139) and I know you desire to relate to us intimately and personally. Holy Spirit, help these readers discern your voice within them. I ask these things in Jesus’ glorious name, who stands as our mediator and advocate before God the Father.
Dr. Ruel Tyer is the Director of Care and Counseling for OneDay Counseling at Portico church. To learn more about OneDay Counseling visit the website - www.onedaycville.org. Dr. Tyer provides counseling services for individuals, couples, and families. If you are interested in learning more about counseling services please contact Dr. Tyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.