Sometimes we feel near to…
Sometimes we feel far from…
Sometimes we feel numb to….
Sometimes we feel guilty towards…
Whoever you are and no matter what you believe, there is an innate longing to experience a closeness. A fulfillment to the longing. God made you. Just like a child longs to know their parent, longs to have a relationship with them, God’s creation longs for their creator. You are hungry the moment you are born for relationship. A thirst for the inexplicable, the miraculous. As a child, you accept the unseen and thrust your faith into the abyss trusting that there is something beyond. Why is make-believe the choice pastime of children? It’s fun to believe in the unbelievable.
Imagine a relationship with someone who loves you unconditionally, who is always there, and always forgives your failings but will never fail you. If you are not madly in love with Jesus, it’s not because he doesn’t exist and it’s not because you have done something terribly wrong. It’s simply because you don’t know the real Jesus. You don’t know your creator, yet your entire human faculty desperately longs to know your Heavenly father.
You think you don’t want Jesus or you seriously doubt that is the missing link to why you feel nothing satiates. I am not just talking to non-believers. I am talking to believers who go to church, read their Bible, and tithe consistently. I am talking to those people who don’t participate in lewd behavior but still feel empty. A few years ago, I was at a conference where I was surrounded by radical, serious Christians whose fervor for the Lord was magnetic. I frequented mass prayer and worship sessions where spontaneous worshipped ensued. It was glorious. The entire weekend, I joined in prayer, fasting and worship where I was a zealot like all the rest. In the midst of an acapella, spontaneous worship session, I realized that I could not lift my hands high enough or sing loud enough or dance wild enough to get God’s attention. I wanted him so much but felt it wasn’t enough. In the midst of this congregation of avid believers I had never felt so disconnected and distant from God. It was a worthless, empty feeling. I felt I had come to the end of my ability to find God. I didn’t know what to do. I wondered if others around me felt like that. I plopped on my bed after I returned from the conference and thought to myself if any other Christian felt like I did, like no matter what they did to please God it would never be enough to really “feel” him; “feel” that He was present and loved me. My desperation wasn’t even enough to make Him feel near.
After that miserable experience, I left God. Not officially but I left church. I left those who were submitted to God and found myself in my own personal study. I didn’t go and waste my time on stupidity like the wrong people or wrong behaviors, I just took time off from organized religion. the next two years that followed were unusual. I made mistakes, more than I had ever made in my life, but I was asking God real questions like, “Why don’t I feel you?” “Why didn’t you come to me the way I asked?” “Is this what you want from me?” I was a little abrasive with God and kind of mean but I persevered. He still didn’t feel close for months following the conference until one day. I was in church, a rare occurrence. I didn’t like what I was hearing from the pulpit, another message telling me to do more and sacrifice more in order to obtain that closeness. God had me open my notebook and I wrote a passage in my journal. He took me to a place I knew very well in my childhood. It was a patch of 2-3 acres of land to the left of my old house. It was always unkempt and never managed. It contained an old barn and a 20 story silo. It was barricaded on both sides with barbed-wire and had two openings on the north and south ends. The south end led to the road while the north led to 90 acres of beautiful, well-manicured pasture. The 90 acres became my playground as a child. I found Jesus out there. He was always so close I could touch him. When I wrote these words in 2006, I had lost feeling.
May 14, 2006
God has made a place to lie down in a pasture of brush, thorns and tall overgrown grasses. He has made a place to find refuge and rest in the place of disgust and abandonment. In this pasture, you feel stuck and trapped. You can see the escape but you feel like you can’t escape. To your left and right are two options. To your left, the familiar. To your right, the new. You don’t know whether you should go left or right. You don’t need to make a decision, you simply need to rest.
I, the Lord, have cleared pockets in the brush. I have made places where you can rest. They are made specifically for you. The birds of the air will not bother you. The vermin in the grass with not come near you. Do not be worried about what lives in the brush, the unknown. They will not come near you. Do not be fooled by their ability. Do not feel that you need to get out of the confusion because of what is around you. You CAN rest. You are commanded to rest. You see that silo in front of you. That symbolizes that I am your soul supply. I tower above your confusion, circumstance and fears. You are my child. I see you in the maze. I have made a way of escape in the maze. It is not my maze. I did not put you there, but that is no significant matter. My love for you creates a place of rest. Beyond the old barn and silo, is a promised land. A pasture where you can be liberated and free to explore. You began to find me in that pasture. Do you remember how you danced before me? I have fathered you since the beginning. I have cradled you in my arms not because you were in the pasture but because I love you. I cradle you in my arms when you are lost in the brush. You please me as much in the brush as you did in the pasture. Stop doing and allow me to father you. Allow me to wrap my strong, able, loving arms around you. In my hand, I’ll take you to the pasture. The right or left is not my will. I am not asking you to make the decision, I am asking you to allow me to take you to the pasture. I find for you the “lush meadows” and I find you “quiet pools”. Stop running to what you think is the right way. Yes, you feel that you are in the “valley of death”. I am your shepherd in this death. My love, this is death for you. Not death to what you are afraid to lose but death to your ability to do. Your need to find the right way your own way. Let’s say you go right, to the new, you still miss the pasture. The key to your peace is the pasture not the right decision. Find that patch of rest and I’ll lead you to the pasture. Keep your eyes on the silo. Be reminded that I am your soul supply. Just stop and rest. I’ll secure you. Overlook the road and ignore the spectators. You do not have to go left or right because the spectators are demanding a decision. Turn your eyes to the hills from whence cometh your help. My beauty and love chases after you and corrals you to my place of rest away from the road. I am your everything. You want for nothing. I love you.
It’s like the Holy Spirit began to tell me the story and then God took over. I love when God tells stories. No one knows me like Him. No one.
You may feel God doesn’t talk to people like that. This story he told me proves that God is real. I live by these principles now but everything I wrote defied the doctrine I had clung to in years passed. At the time, I was in misery. Torn between the decision to marry and not marry. I had no idea who God was even though I had served him since I was four. I was at a crossroads with a ring on my finger and unreal pressure from others to not marry. I wanted to make a decision but God kept telling me that the answer was not making a decision. It was resting. God and I were going on another journey that had nothing to do with my decision. I was in love, or so I thought, but something felt amiss. What did I do after this encounter? I took a left to the familiar. I did not stay and rest. I didn’t know how. I tried to do what I thought was right to impress God and prove the spectators wrong. I married. Two years later, I divorced. It was tumultuous for both. It was doomed from the beginning. The spectators were right. I should have gone left. But, what did God say about going left or right? He said that I would miss the promise land. Six years later, after having suffered a failed marriage and foreclosure, I am living in a promise land that far exceeds my every longing. Despite my wrong decision, God still kept His word. Over the last six years, there has not been a day that I haven’t fallen head over heels in love with Jesus. I feel him. I feel his touch. He is always near, always present. I don’t have to desperately seek him with my religious activity. I just seek and I find, I knock and the door is opened, I ask and receive. There is still wastelands and wild frontiers that plague me but my heart is certain that I am loved.