Sometimes God seems no closer than the Milky Way.
What is it that makes God seem distant?
Is it because he is holy and majestic and needs to be detached from a far from perfect mortal like myself? Are my day-to-day activities too insignificant to receive his undivided attention? Does he withdraw because, well frankly, I miss the mark—too often—and could do better?
How do we pray when God feels far away?
To begin, we must understand God’s purpose is to be near us and with us. Always.
God does not deliberately separate himself from us.
From day one, God intended to be intimate with people made in his image.
“Where are you?” He called out to Adam and Eve when he came to enjoy an evening stroll in the Garden. His question is packed with disappointment in them not being there to meet him, and longing for their fellowship.
God Almighty, who loads the clouds with moisture and turns them into a mighty downpour, (Job 37), the Creator who hangs the stars, determines their number, and calls them each by name came down from heaven onto earth to enjoy the company of the man and woman.
Yet, Adam and Eve were not there to meet him.
Do you know what it’s like to be stood up? I feel gutted when I turn up to meet a friend, but they never arrive.
Adam and Eve’s actions had made them ashamed. They were the ones who separated themselves from God.
How often do we hide rather than come out in the open and admit our pride, anger, jealousy, selfish ambition…?
Unfortunately, when we go our own way, we create the gap between God and us.
‘Here am I, here am I.’ All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations. Isaiah 65:2 (NIV)
The only people I see who hold out their hands are beggars on the street. Have I caused my holy God to take this humble position so he can get near to me?
We should never accuse God of being distant.
When we can’t feel God’s warmth, it isn’t punishment. This is far from the truth.
Nor are difficult trials or the isolation we feel during them a result of sin. That God seems withdrawn during these times is something we all face.
God does not delight in distance from us.
When we have alienated ourselves from God, everything in scripture points to a relationship that can be made right because God has humbled himself.
Nothing should make us think we cannot be close to God again.
Any separation–God has taken care of.
God has done everything to rectify the chasm created by sin.
God the Father, through his Son Jesus, has done everything in his power to be inseparable from us.
It began with an intimate relationship with a baby who needed to be cleaned, fed, watched, and cuddled.
Then God allowed his Son to die.
God always makes the move towards us. We never work our way up to God.
So along with me, will you get on your knees before a big-hearted, loving God.
Acknowledge that your wrongdoing puts a distance between you and God. Bring whatever you have done to him and ask for forgiveness.
Thank God—who has humbled himself before us—for his goodness.