God Is Not Ghosting You
Why does God feel far away sometimes? Why does it seem that God is distant?
What do we do when we feel as if we are far away from God, or simply are not hearing from him? A. W. Tozer answered the question by stating, “Every man is as close to God as he wants to be.”
Right away, allow me to note: if you are in the boat of feeling distant from God, you are certainly not alone by any means. Every Christian has been at a point of spiritual dryness in his or her life, during which the relationship with our Maker appears estranged.
Keeping Tozer’s words in mind, however, the reason why we may feel distant from God could be that we are. In a manner of speaking, that is.
Picture this: you are standing outside in your backyard on a hot, sunny, summer day. Clouds in the sky are few and far between, until one just the right size comes in front of the scorching sun. The ground around you changes a shade, and the temperature also seems to have decreased noticeably. Oh the simple bliss of shade on a summer day!
One cloud can make a significant change. Our sun is lightyears away from Earth, and yet its warmth is life-sustaining. Even the smallest cloud in the atmosphere, though, can alter the temperature and light-exposure from this monstrous heavenly body.
The question is raised, then, as to what changed? You? The sun? Neither. Something that came between you and the sun made all the difference. God is in all places at all times (Psalm 139:7, Proverbs 15:3, Jeremiah 23:24). God never changes position, just as the sun never leaves its spot in the Milky Way Galaxy. Likewise, though we cannot escape the presence of God, it is possible for “clouds” to come in the way of our relationship to him if we are not cautious.
Do not just take my word for it, however; what does God’s Word have to say on this matter?
In Isaiah 59:2, Isaiah says to Israel, “but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear."
Proverbs 28:9 says “If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.”
Lastly, 1 Peter 3:12 tells us, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."
These are serious words, and they all relay the same message in different contexts. That is, unrepentant sin in our lives can create a distance between us and God, causing God to “turn” from us and not hear our prayers if we continue to abound in willful rebellion against Him.
Keep in mind, this does not mean that one loses his or her salvation in these scenarios, needing to then be saved again. However, the Biblical authors are communicating to readers that repentance is a posture. It is something we do for the rest of our lives, having decided to follow Jesus and take up our cross. It is a necessary step in the process of sanctification, becoming more like Christ each day.
Marriage begins at the altar, just as our relationship with Christ begins once we choose to follow him. The rest of our lives, then, we are expected to keep his commandments (John 14:15), and deny ourselves (Matthew 16:24–26), which includes putting aside our previous lives of depravity.
Looking again at our analogy, unrepentant sin is like the cloud that blocks our view of God, causing a difference in temperature and appearance. God has not left us, but we feel less of his warmth and our path is less illuminated until we eradicate whatever it is that is preventing us from experiencing the fullness of God’s love.
I heard it once illustrated this way by the late apologist and theologian, Dr. Norman Geisler: if one were to hold a cup under Niagara Falls facing up, the cup would instantaneously overflow. However, merely turning the cup upside down, still held under the massive waterfall, would leave the interior empty, though the water is still surrounding the cup.
Again, the water has not changed location; the cup has merely changed position.
The presence of God is like Niagara Falls in the illustration, making us the cup. The presence of God does not change, though we must be willing to turn toward Him in order to experience salvation and achieve sanctification. Choosing to turn away from God results in us not benefiting in the least from his goodness, mercy, and grace.
God’s presence is all-encompassing, though God will not force anyone into that presence against their will. This holds true both for the believer and non-believer; the believer must make the effort to make time to be with God, obey his commands, and carry out the Great Commission. The non-believer must first choose to believe. Choosing to reject Christ, however, ultimately results in the punishment that all deserve, which is the wrath of God.
Too many people view grace as a get-out-of-hell-free card, or "fire-insurance." The implication is that once saved, we may go on living our previous lives. But this goes against everything Jesus said about following him.
God will not live your life for you. Following Christ is a commitment that requires us to endure until the end. It is a call to die to ourselves.
James 4:8 says “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you”. If you are feeling that God is distant; remember that of His characteristics is that he is omnipresent, or everywhere at all times. God has not left you, and will not leave you. But you may need to draw near to Him, in whom you will find rest and comfort.