Have you ever had a season of life where you were sure God had left you?
Like He was there so close and consistently for months or years then, seemingly without any cause, He was just…gone?
Or maybe it’s felt like a slow fade until you no longer felt Him at all one day?
Have you gone through a season where it felt like everything was falling apart and no matter how hard you screamed and cried He was dead silent?
Been there. I felt like I lived in a season of near total separation from God for 4 solid years; the last 2 years being the most deprived of His presence I’ve ever been in my total 8 years of being a Christian. It felt awful.
I remember begging Him to draw near to me. Some days I would cry and pout. Other days I’d demand He say or do something. Gradually I got to the point of thinking I could bargain or negotiate Him close to me until I eventually found myself living recklessly to tempt Him to step in. (Bad idea, by the way.) Nothing seemed to work. I finally stopped believing He’d ever show up altogether.
It’s not been until I gave up across the board, decided to restart and began to get on the other side of things that I’ve gained some valuable insight into the nearness of God’s presence when we think He’s far off.
My therapist asked me a few weeks ago what it would take for me to fully begin to trust God again. My answer was simple…, “I need Him to show me where He’s been over the 2 years I’ve felt abandoned. I just need Him to show me where He was.” Half of my mind didn’t think He’d show me anything and the other half thought that He would show Him dealing with more important issues in the world than my stuff during that time. Nevertheless, I knew I needed that question answered before I could trust Him with my heart once more.
One evening later that week I was driving my car and decided to put some worship music on. (Something I hadn’t done in quite a while). While listening the lyrics began to hit me in a particularly profound and unexpected fashion. I began to feel different; no…I simply began to feel. I felt real, tender emotions towards God for the first time in a LONG time. Ever so eloquently I could sense something happening in my heart…something English fails to explain and somehow along the way He answered the question I’d told my therapist.
Get ready for His anti-climactic answer. Where had He been for 2 years?
He’d been right there with me all along, acting daily in and through my Dad.
Now, I’m a total “Daddy’s girl” so that wasn’t all that hard to believe but then He began systematically showing me a play-by-play of every.single.time my earthly Dad picked me up when I was broken, spoke life into me when I was dying, pulled me out of the pit when I was drowning, defended me when I was surrounded, received me when everyone rejected me, and loved me when I thought myself unlovable. For the past 2 years my Dad had gone above and beyond the call of an earthly Father and lived totally yielded to Jesus as He walked me through my entire season of despair. He couldn’t stop negative things from happening to me, but he could see me through them. With these realizations I broke. The dam of held back tears burst in those moments and I fell into a puddle of humbled gratefulness.
God had never left me, He simply took the form of a person.
But isn’t that the gospel? Why had this not been obvious to me? Why is it so hard to see Jesus in other Christians? At some point we have to stop looking for the sign in the heavens or those huge supernatural demonstrations of the nearness of God and recognize that God is in His people, or at least should be. We are His temple, right? (1 Corinthians 3:16). He is supposed to be living in us with His Holy Spirit operating through us. The Apostle Paul even wrote in Galations 2:20, “…I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Dad was Jesus in human form to me (for my whole lifetime but especially these last two years) and I was too blind to see it.
“…Christ in us, the hope of glory.” – Colossians 1:27
I wanted God to appear to me like He had before or in some new dynamic way that I couldn’t doubt. But the thing about God is, He doesn’t do what we tell Him to and He’s always out to teach us something new. He’s set Christianity up to run through His people. What’s the point of all of us modeling our lives around Him if we don’t eventually start looking and acting like Him, right? I mean, really.
Why was it so hard for me to see Him in a person? Especially someone whose life looks so much like Him! Maybe we take these people for granted. Who knows. All I know was God answered my question and He taught me how valuable other believers close to us are. They are oftentimes the largest way He communicates to us. Unsung heroes, if you will. 🙂
So, I want to challenge you. Shake off the blindness and take a look around. Who has been lifting you up? Who’s been there for you? Whether they are close to you personally, a fleeting stranger, a minister on TV…it really doesn’t matter. The point is, look around. God may have been and may currently be ministering to your broken heart through vessels right in front of you. He said, “I’ll never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) and He isn’t a man that He should lie. But, He does get to choose how and through what means He speaks to you. He never goes silent. Allow Him to show you who He’s been speaking through. It might surprise you.
Having eyes to see,