Feeling Distant

“And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision…” 1 Samuel 3:1

I’ve been reading from 1 Samuel for devotions lately. This phrase struck me and rolled around my mind for a few days.

It’s a painful and sad thing to feel distance from someone you love.

How important is it to feel close to Him?

Why was a word from the Lord scarce during the time of 1 Samuel?

I want to feel close to the Lord…and yet…some days He feels so far away, so impersonal. I feel as if a word from Him is scarce.

Matthew Henry’s commentary says this about the passage:

“Perhaps the impiety and impurity that prevailed in the tabernacle (Eli’s sons were wicked and unchecked), and no doubt corrupted the whole nation, had provoked God, as a token of his displeasure, to withdraw the Spirit of prophecy, till the decree had gone forth for the raising up of a more faithful priest, and then, as an earnest of that, this faithful prophet was raised up.”

I search my heart for sin.

Reveal it to me, Lord! But otherwise…why do you feel so far away?

And then I read His word, trusting, trusting, (trying to trust?), always saying “I believe, Lord help my unbelief!”

His Word is living and active, sharper than a double-edged sword. Surely He will speak to me through it?

Lord, I want to feel closer to you.

I savor the Psalmists’ words – oh, that thirsty soul who sang “earnestly I seek you.”

“For God alone my soul waits in silence…”

“Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.”

I am not alone. Others have felt the flesh-fainting, the soul-thirsting, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. They humbled and quieted their souls, trusting in the Lord, earnestly seeking Him.

Waiting, quieting…memorizing the words of Jesus:

“Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” – John 14:21

Again, Matthew Henry’s commentary helps me understand from a fuller context of John and the whole of Scripture:

What returns he will make to them for their love; rich returns; there is no love lost upon Christ…He loves them, and lets them know that he loves them, smiles upon them, and embraces them…Christ was now leaving his disciples, but promises to continue his love to them; for he not only retains a kindness for believers, though absent, but is doing them kindness while absent, for he bears them on his heart, and ever lives interceding for them…There is a spiritual manifestation of Christ and his love made to all believers. When he enlightens their minds to know his love, and the dimensions of it, enlivens their graces,and draws them into exercise, and thus enlarges their comforts in himself—when he clears up the evidences of their interest in him, and gives them tokens of his love, experience of his tenderness, and earnests of his kingdom and glory,—then he manifests himself to them; and Christ is manifested to none but those to whom he is pleased to manifest himself.”

A promise from the Savior! My heart is comforted in this: 1) I am loved, 2) He will manifest Himself to me.

But there is more: “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them…”

I must continue to follow and trust.

But what about when I feel that He is so distant?

“Feelings aren’t the most important thing. They will come and they will go…” – my faithful husband’s reminder.

And then from C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters” a bit of light is cast on my own soul as the fictional demon-uncle “Screwtape” instructs his young demon-nephew in how to ruin the life of his charge (a man):

“…even if a particular train of thought can be twisted so as to end in our favour, you will find that you have been strengthening in your patient the fatal habit of attending to universal issues and withdrawing his attention from the stream of immediate sense experiences. Your business is to fix his attention on the stream. Teach him to call it ‘real life’ and don’t let him ask what he means by ‘real.'”

My attention is too often fixed on “the stream of immediate sense experiences,” rather than universal issues, or absolute truths that I know from God’s word. How easy it is to be focused on my feelings of nearness or distance – rather than on what is actually real and important – the invisible, eternal.

In the ordinary days, it is easy to forget that there is so much in the unseen. I feel far away, but is He really so distant?

Perhaps He is here, beside me in the morning, directing my fingers as I turn His pages…

Perhaps His love is too big for my finite emotions to absorb and feel

Perhaps one day, in Heaven (where He is preparing a place for me), I will understand and the “distance” will be a distant memory.

❤ jc

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6 thoughts on “Feeling Distant

  1. Thanks, Jordan! I really needed that. I have felt like a horrible person lately because here I am, a pastor, and I’m telling all these other people how to do things God’s way and then I don’t feel him close sometimes – even after confessing any sin.

  2. Kind of like when we all too often pray, “Lord, be with so-and-so…” He has promised to be with us always…I rarely “feel” His presence, but that does not mean others don’t. He has made each of us uniquely, to include emotions etc. I think that is one reason why there are such a variety of worship “styles”…as long as the focus is on Jesus (and not Holy Spirit…whose ministry is to bring glory/attention to Jesus)…style matters very little, though some folks are perfectly content in a formal attitude whilst others are more, ah, boistrous? It’s a matter of the heart, and the calm recognition, though we may long for something tangible, that “I am with you always.” Blessings, sister.

  3. This just came to me from Joshua Harris; ties in:

    “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5 ESV

    When we think about what it means to abide in Jesus our temptation is to ask for a checklist. But abiding isn’t a program. Abiding is a relationship.

    We live in an electronic world and we want to treat this like charging an electronic device. How long do I have to be plugged into God through a quiet time or prayer or reading a book to get the charge I need to then go out and do my thing?

    But Jesus doesn’t say “I am power cord you are the cell phone.” He says, “I’m the vine. You’re the branch.” If you want life, there can’t be any disconnect. Abiding is living in this constant awareness of total dependence. Abiding is what desperate people do who realize that they have no life, power, no inward resource of themselves.

    When I think about abiding I can want to make it overly mystical. But it’s not a special spiritual state that we work ourselves into. More than anything abiding is a posture of heart. It’s opposite of self-reliance. It’s the opposite of the “I can handle this” feeling. It is dependence and child-like faith that says, “All I have is Jesus and his life, death and resurrection for me.”

    Here’s the truth: you and I know how to abide. When there’s someone in our life that we know we can’t live without, we know how to stay close to them. We talk to them. We listen to them. We don’t go on long vacations away from them. We remember to call. We do the things that please them. We give up other things and relationships to prioritize them.

    That’s what Jesus tells us to do this in John 15. If you want to abide in Jesus, listen to his words. Read his Bible. Let his words live in you. Let his words and his gospel shape your thinking. Talk to him. Pray. Seek to love what he loves. Ask him to do the things that he loves. Abide in his love by keeping his commandments. Obey him even when it’s costly.

    Abiding isn’t complicated. The secret to abiding is simply being desperate for Jesus. The secret to abiding is believing that apart from Jesus you can do nothing.

    Excerpted from the sermon “Apart From Me You Can Do Nothing” i

  4. Thanks so much for sharing your honest feelings. I feel the same way so much of the time. Your words speak true and have touched me deep in my soul. I am grateful for you and Nels.

    Love David

  5. Thank you all for your thoughts and comments.

    “..the calm recognition, though we may long for something tangible, that “I am with you always.” – Amen, I will remember these words. Also, good thoughts from Josh Harris on truly abiding.

    I often wonder how personal posts should be…there must be balance between being “real” and over-exposure. Nels and I prayed and thought about these words and hoped that they might be an encouragement to others who sometimes feel sad about God’s apparent “distance”…and I hope it will encourage you to continue to seek His face!

    David, we are grateful for your family as well! Every line in the mail I receive from your daughters is so precious to me.

    ❤ jc

  6. Pingback: Feelings & Faith | jordan cristine | a day in the life

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