In my life, when I felt that God left me, I was right. He went somewhere, and I was unable or unwilling to follow.
As I look back, the reasons I was unable or unwilling boiled down to fears based on lies. Many of the lies were taught to me by adults in authority as I grew up. Many are ingrained into our societal norms and assumptions. Others seem to occur to me naturally, spontaneously, simply because I’m human.
As I work through the lies and discard them, I see over and over that I could have followed, and there was no reason for my fear. When the smoke clears, I see that God wasn’t so very far away, and I also see how to get there, where he is. The freedom to move feels good.
Some people think that “feelings” themselves are the problem, that we pay too much attention to them. Some criticize “experience-based” approaches to God, as if we can’t let our experiences inform us about the truth. If by experience-based, they mean experience-addicted, I’d agree; that’s a problem. But a relationship with God isn’t so different from a relationship with another person. Those are experience-based, too, and feelings are crucial, along with serious thought, understanding, planning, care, and commitment.
If we are in a relationship only for what we can get out of it, we’ll treat our “partner” like an object, like an experience-vending machine. That’s not a relationship, but a series of transactions; a kind of soul business in which we negotiate, contract, and cancel over “deal-breakers.” We tend to treat God the same way.
When I can’t “find” God, most often it’s for one of two reasons:
- I’m scared to death to look where I would find him.
- I’m pissed off at him because he isn’t where I wanted him to be.
Either way, I’m stuck until I figure it out, because God doesn’t move easily, much like a good parent.
If neither are the case, then I’m in a rare situation: I’m righteous, and God will hear my prayer. More often, I’m the one who needs to move.