I’ve heard a lot of Christians talk about ‘that time in your life when God feels distant’. I mean, I’ve talked about it too, even throwing out the word ‘season’ in classic Christian fashion. I think it’s safe to say we expect these times and we weather them, waiting for the time when we feel close to God again, believing that there was a good reason he went silent.
In the Bible, though, I see a totally different story.
People who knew God intimately still died without having a clue of what he was up to. Think of every faithful person in the Old Testament. Think of Abraham, Moses, Joseph, Ruth, Esther, David, Daniel, Isaiah. They all obeyed God but if we’re honest, none of them saw the fulfillment of what he was doing. Abraham had a promise, but never saw the result of that promise. Moses didn’t see the Israelites get into the promised land. Daniel lived and died in exile. In the New Testament as well, the early church were at the beginning of something enormous; they had the whole world to reach with a message of salvation and were only just starting. Their joy didn’t come because the things God had promised happened, their joy came because they believed so strongly that they would one day happen.
Our default as Christians shouldn’t be feeling snuggly and warm in God’s presence. Our default should be faith.
Being a Christian is not about waiting for that next time we ‘get’ God and see his bigger plan. Yes, those times feel safe, but being a Christian was never about feeling safe. God is love, holiness, power, presence, grace, and so much more, and this life as a Christian isn’t about sitting down and getting to know him over a cup of tea. It’s about faith. It’s about simply believing that he is all of these things and acting like it; without needing to go and beg him to reveal himself all the time. Sitting there and trying to understand God will only get you so far. Living in faith without demanding proof for it every second; that is how you get to know God.
I get comfort from this: I have had times of hearing God, of feeling his love, and feeling his undeniable presence. In fact, I’ve been floored by this. But I haven’t seen anything yet. If God was the Universe, I’ve only stepped out into my back garden. The God I worship is incomprehensible, he does things that I don’t understand, and the more I see of him, the bigger and more incomprehensible he becomes.