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by Cheryl Sinasac
What do you do when your passion for the Lord has disappeared?
What do you do when you feel empty, dry and numb and because of that, you feel like you have nothing to give?
What do you do when guilt and fear of failure cloud the truth of God’s great love and grace?
This is where I am right now, and it’s a painful place to be. Yet, as I’ve started to talk about these emotions I’m experiencing, I’m strangely comforted by the fact that everyone who follows Christ has experienced the same struggles.
How did I get to this place? The answer that keeps popping up is simple, but complicated. I’ve been so distracted. It hasn’t been just one distraction. It’s been many — big ones and small ones. Life is busy, and there is always something fighting for our attention and time. The problem is I didn’t fully realize how distracted I was and how much it was affecting my relationship with God.
Until recently, that is.
I was supposed to lead a couple of things at church, and I came face-to-face with the fact that I was empty and felt as though I had nothing to give. I discovered that I’d been blinded to the fact that I had been running on the fumes of my past experiences with God and was trying to live out my faith through other people’s experiences with God. I was running on “E,” and I finally ran out of gas.
Now God seems further away, but I realize that He wasn’t the One who moved; it was me. I have distanced myself from Him, and right now it feels like we are more like strangers and conversation is awkward.
I hate being in this place, and I don’t want to stay here any longer than I have to.
I believe God is pursuing me by showing me these things, so how do I pursue Him in return? How can I feel Him close again? Ultimately I can’t control the seasons God decides to bring into my life. Hebrews 12 talks about how God disciplines all those He loves, so this season may be a time in my life God wants to produce in me deeper levels of perseverance and trust in His steadfast love for me. I can continue to pursue God through praying, reading the Bible, going to church, and being around other Christians who spur me on, all out of my love and desire for the Lord knowing that my feelings may not always follow. I never feel like going to the dentist, but I still go because I don’t want my teeth to fall out someday. I am so prone to live according to my feelings, and most of the time my feelings aren’t based on the truth of the Gospel.
I’ve also been reminded of the necessity and privilege of talking about my struggles with the people in my life who I trust and look up to. It’s in these discussions I realize I’m not alone. God has put people in my life who are wiser than I, and I want to learn as much as I can from them. One particular conversation I had recently that has really spurred me on was with my brother. Even though he is younger than I am, I still learn so much from him. He shared his strategy for getting into the Bible every day. It’s the very first thing he does each morning, before checking his phone or having breakfast. I’ve been imitating his strategy, and it has been very helpful.
So often we forget that we are in a war. I think the greatest weapons Satan uses against God’s people are busyness and distraction. There is no such thing as a super-Christian; we are all as equally bankrupt and needy apart from the Lord. We will all go through seasons of being distracted, dry and empty, so we need each other. In the times when we are barely hanging on to Jesus, let’s remind each other of two things: (1) Jesus is still hanging on to us and His grip is infinitely powerful. He will not ever let us go! (2) God’s love remains sure and strong, and His goodness and unfailing love will pursue us all the days of our lives (Psalm 23:6).
Cheryl Sinasac lives in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and is a daughter, sister, friend, church member, cook, activity aide at a nursing home, babysitter, volunteer and an aspiring writer in her spare time.
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--My relationship with God was distant and strained for a long time. In the end I found it was important to re-evaluate everything I believed and had been taught growing up to see how much was from God and how much was harmful teachings invented by people. I had been burned badly by the latter, but I didn't see any other options so I just kept my distance from all things related to God.
I agree Christian community is really important because a lot of people wiser than me have helped me deconstruct and rebuild from the ground up. I saw God's love through other people when I couldn't see him anywhere else. Christians go through spiritual deserts for lots of reasons, and learning from others can really help. I found a church that was both a safe place and a challenging place.
--Thanks, Cheryl, for your frankness.
Recently, I have felt a (perhaps similar?) distance from God–after one of the most intimate and powerful years of knowing him and growing spiritually. I listened to a sermon by Ron Dunn last week, "Seeking the Lord." In it he says, “We were on our way to Jesus and we met something else along the way and we settled for that.” That "something else" he describes as service, gift (talent), gift (blessing), or experience, for example. I realized that's what happened with me. I stopped at the gift, became distracted by giving (out of my own resources rather than his), and forgot to come back to the Great Giver. I forgot to listen, forgot that I need him, forgot that the gifts are not mine but his. It only happened in a few months.
Time to rest from service, and go back to my Lord. Idols fall hard, but I know through experience that it's worth it. I'm looking forward to being with HIM again.
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