I am your stereotypical female. I’m the girl that can make the tiniest issue seem like the world is about to be over. I’m the girl that cries every time I see those hallmark commercials at mothers day where the old lady gets a sweet card from the neighbor family so she doesn’t feel alone. And I am that girl who every time Mr. Darcey tells Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice that he loves her, my heart skips a beat. I am an emotional being, bound to live out my days being driven and motivated by the feelings that fuel me. Not always do they have the best outcomes, but they are there none the less. So what happens when those feelings go away? What happens when life, or more importantly our walk with Christ, becomes something void of emotion? What happens when everything that relates to me and Jesus just comes up feeling….numb?
So many of you have commented or emailed in the last few weeks about this very idea. This idea that you are or have felt like you cannot feel God and you are uncertain as to what is wrong. Many of you feel as though it means God isn’t there or He isn’t listening. And many of you wonder if you’ll ever get back to that place where you felt God so strongly. So let’s tackle this then, shall we?
Feelings at their deepest part are not a constant thing. They ebb and flow based on the environment around us and the circumstances we encounter. They are temporary. They are fleeting. Knowing this, why should our feelings be something to trust? If I’m having a great day and genuinely happy and then get fired from my job, my feelings of happiness will change. The same is true in this situation. Our walk with God is like any other relationship in that it has peaks and valleys. There are times of great joy and there are times of great sorrow. Times we are close and times we are distant. If I was solely led by my feelings to guide my relationship with God I would waver from loving him to hating him quite frequently. And if He were any other relationship, I’d probably end it and walk away due to the instability of my emotions. So this leads me to a question.
Is being able to feel God a requirement for following God?
Scripture, especially in the Old testament, is littered with men and women struggling because they don’t feel God’s presence in their lives. David talks about it in the Psalms. Job cries out to his friends about it. Nehemiah…Joshua…Saul….and so on and so on…. But what all of these people have in common is one thing. Even when they didn’t sense God’s nearness, it did not stop them from continuing to pursue, follow and serve God. If anything, they sought harder. They knew that just because they couldn’t feel God, it never meant He left, it just may have meant that He was giving them the chance to understand the joy of seeking him.
Take Elijah for instance. In 1 Kings Elijah has suffered greatly and is feeling emotionally undone. He is crying out to God in his pain. God decides to encourage Elijah so He guides Elijah to stand on a mountain so Elijah can “feel” God as He passes by. There first came a huge wind that shattered rocks, then a massive earthquake, and then came a fire-but God was in none of these places. It wasn’t until Elijah felt a gentle whisper that he fell to his knees and saw that the Lord was there. Do you see? God is not always going to be present in your life sending your heart into a violent earthquake of emotion. Sometimes, he is off in the distance, silently whispering to you “Come to me sweet child. I’m right here.”
So what do we do? If our feelings are what drive us, but their inconsistancy cannot be trusted, how do we seek God in the emotional desert? The answer is simple: WE KEEP SEEKING. We use the seasons of numbness as a summoning by the Lord to draw near. Not because of the giddy-twitterpated-warm and fuzzies we think we’ll get at the end of the road, but simply because He is God. And because He is God, He deserves our affections. He owes us nothing but the sheer pleasure of being allowed to be in fellowship with Him in the first place. He is God..we are nothing. Yet this God…he aches to relate to us. So even if we never get the joy of feeling Him ever again, we should simply consider it a joy that we can be near Him at all. Because although we cannot feel it…He never leaves us. Never has, never will.
I often find that sometimes music can express the words my heart longs to say but can never quite get out. Below is a song I feel does just that. It’s chorus says exactly what we need to be feeling when these moments of numbness come upon us:
Father, I praise You because You are
Jesus, I love You because You are
Spirit, I worship You because You are
And if no one can see that Your love’s moving me
I worship You still and forever will
Because You are
So let us follow Him not for the joy or the happiness or the sorrow or the pain that He may make us feel. Let us following Him simply because He IS.
Listen to: Because You Are