Why You May Have A Hard Time Connecting with God
Your connection with God is the most important thing about you. Each and every day as you wake up God intends to meet you and live the entire day with you. It's in his nature to want to be with you. He even reveals one of his names as Emmanuel which means "God with Us". So why does it feel like its so hard to connect to him at times?
The Problem is not on God's end.
God doesn't pull away from you, reject you, or decide to distance himself for a season. God has sent the Holy Spirit to live inside of all believers and we are now the dwelling place of God. Its outside of his nature to move away from you. The only thing that will create the perception of distance is wrong beliefs about God and yourself.
You don't see yourself the way God does
Many of us grew up believing that God was merely putting up with us. We were taught that the cross showed us how sinful and in need of a savior we were. I was taught that God had to die on the cross because I was a sinner. I believe that I was a sinner, but I don't believe that this is what motivated Jesus to die for me. It's not the whole truth.
Jesus had to die on the cross to remove sin from your life because he loves you. I don't believe that my sin strong-armed Jesus into doing something that he didn't want to. Jesus died so that he could be with me. He died so I could be an object of his love. He died because he needed to get sin off of me so that I could live in what he originally created me to be. Love is what made Jesus die on the cross, not obligation.
God no longer primarily sees you as a sinner. You and him are no longer opposed. God sees you as a son or daughter. Romans 5 says that since we have been declared righteous (Justified) we have peace with God. God sees you for who he created you to be.
Your sin doesn't separate you from God
You can't scare God away with your sin. For a large part of my relationship with Jesus, I believed that when I sinned I created a divide between me and Jesus. I was taught that God was holy (which he is) and that my sin forced him to separate from me. This is not true.
When God gave the Israelites the law at Mount Sinai, they were told that they had to keep laws to remain in relationship with God. If they kept the laws then they would experience the blessing of God and would have his presence. If they failed to keep the laws, they would experience judgment and curses and Gods presence would not dwell with them. Thankfully, this is no longer the system that we live under. Jesus has created what is called the New Covenant. In this covenant, we have a relationship with God solely through Jesus, not the law. Our relationship is based upon what he did on the cross and the fact that he declared us righteous (Justified). A sinful action in our life cannot make him change his mind about the cross and change how he sees you.
The life of Jesus reveals how God relates to humanity under this New Covenant. (This idea will be explored in depth in a later blog post). Interestingly, Jesus did not pull away from people who had sin in their life. He was not offended or distant from those who were constantly messing up. Even when the disciples engaged in things that were sinful he actually pursued them.
Peter was the disciple that denied Jesus three times on the night that he was killed. At the time that Jesus would have needed him the most Peter was denying that he had even been his disciple. After all of this happens, Peter assumes that he no longer has a place with Jesus. He has just committed a horrible sin of denying Jesus, so he goes back to his old job as a fisherman. It is there that Jesus encounters Peter on the beach. Jesus actually comes to him after the biggest mistake and sin of Peter's life in order to restore relationship.
In the story of the prodigal son, the younger son insults his father by asking for his portion of the inheritance. After going and living recklessly and sinfully he comes to his senses and goes back to his father. The son decides to ask for a place as a servant in his father's house, but even while he was a long way off the father saw his son and ran to him. The son that had actively insulted his father and soiled a large portion of his family's wealth was completely restored. You can choose to move away from God, but he will never move away from you.
Not even your worst sin separates you from God.
Just a thought about feelings
We may have a hard time connecting with God because we are not living from truth. Feeling like God is distant or feeling like you are having a hard time connecting to God is just that. It's a feeling. If you let feelings determine what is true in your life, then you will be ruled by emotions. In the times that God feels distant, you must engage with truth and let it be your teacher.
You don't need to feel anything to engage with God. In fact, if you don't feel close to him then it is an opportunity to exercise faith in the fact that he is close.
When there are times that I feel like God is not close I begin to pray something like this:
God, I thank you that my feelings don't determine reality. I thank you that you delight in being close to me. God, you chose to draw close to me before I ever chose you, so the feeling that you aren't close right now is a lie. I thank you that you are the one that pursues me in this relationship. Your name is Emmanuel and you are with me right here, right now. I welcome you and open up my heart to you.