Thursday, February 3, 2011

When Help Seems Distant

"But we live by faith, not by what we see." (2 Corinthians 5:7, CEV)

There are times where we feel God so close that we realize that He's "as real as the nose on our face".  (Don't ask...  It's another one of my Barb-isms.)  We see His movement in all of the activity around us.  We experience the joy of watching as He cares about the every detail, orchestrating amazing things that are beyond coincidence.  We feel the Body of Christ in a very real way as God works in and through people's generosity, assistance and vibrant fellowship.

It's times like these that we're meant to treasure up and ponder in our hearts.  (See Luke 2:19)  Not only do seasons like this energize us, they fill us to overflowing with hope.  They are a little glimpse of heaven, the beautiful carrot being held out to keep this horse pressing on.  And the memory of these times need to be stored up for the days when they are long gone.

You see, in an age where we become addicted to countless numbers of things, it is easy to become addicted to and to expect that sensation of God's close proximity to remain at our beckon call.  When that feeling wanes, we can lose heart or buy into the lie that the Lord doesn't care. 

But that passionate experience can often be the exception to our faith walk rather than the rule.  The key is to get to know God through that daily reading of His word and speaking to Him in prayer.  Then as you watch for His movement in the world around you, God's character becomes familiar to you.

This prepares you for those awful, seemingly-interminable, inevitable times when the Lord seems distant.  When it seems as if your prayers bounce off the ceiling and your anguish matters to no one, it's clinging to what you know to be true that keeps you alive.  Putting one foot in front of the other and just doing the next right thing in the sight of the Lover of your soul keeps you right where God wants you.  It's an ultimate test, walking through the blackest night and still proclaiming in trust "I know that my redeemer lives,and that in the end he will stand on the earth."(Job 19:25, NIV)  And sometimes you may not be feeling it, but merely going through the motions. That's okay.  Lower your expectations of yourself.

God still rewards obedience.  We display our ultimate trust of and respect for Him by merely continuing on as He asks us to regardless of what's going on around us.  My friend Margo always says, "I know that I know that I know."  In other words, she lives with the assurance of God's love and truth no matter what the circumstance.  Just doing the next right thing, picking yourself up to return to the Father when you fall and holding on to that "true North" in the deepest valleys will lessen the blow of those tough times.  Walking by faith and not by sight will give you a stability in this life and a joy in the next life that can't be found anywhere else.

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