Have you ever had that season where you just didn’t feel very close to God? You didn’t feel like anything had really changed in your day to day, but you just didn’t feel intimate? Or did everything around you change? For me, I think, the latter has been the case. For the past 4-5 months, I have felt distant and cold. It hit me as I was walking to work this morning; my intimacy with God has flopped over the past few weeks.
My world has changed drastically this year in so many ways. First, my wife and I had our first child, which has been such a blessing, yet at the same time, it has taken its toll on me. For example, I used to have a lot of alone time where I could pray (a lot), read, and study! I would wake up slowly each morning and would have time to meditate on God’s word. Now my mornings consist of a quick gym session followed by getting mashed banana spat on me while trying to wolf down some food before I need to scramble to the door for work. When I come home I play with my beautiful daughter and help my wife cook dinner. Then we eat. This usually ends with more sprayed baby food. Then it’s bath and bedtime. This is a routine that is completely normal for a family so please don’t hear my complaining when I write this. I am greatly joyed that God has blessed me with the life that I have, and I love everything about my daughter even down to her banana spit.
These words echoed in my head today as I was walking into work. “You need to find more joy in me and less in blessing”. As I was thinking about this, I had a “well duh” moment, but then I started to think about all the other times in my life where I had felt distant from God. They all had something in common; a life change that threw off my routine.
Life changes drastically affect my closeness with God. For example, when I first got married, I didn’t have a job and so for about six weeks, I had A LOT of alone time. I would use it to read mostly, and I knocked out a good number of books. I felt close to God and was really growing. Then I started work, and before I knew it I hadn’t cracked open my bible for personal study in weeks. I lost something.
This reminds me of a few awesome verses in Revelation. V. 2: 2-5 says, ‘I know your works, your toil, and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent”. These verses have been ringing in my ears all day. Especially verse 4, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the first love you had at first”. This verse just pierces me. I know that I have taken my focus off my first love and put it on my new love (Avery). I would be a bad father and husband if I didn’t help with the baby and tend to her needs. But I also won’t be any good to her in a spiritual way if I neglect to spend time with God.
Now with all this in mind, I want to hit home this fact; when we are distant from Jesus, it affects all areas of our life. It affects how we view and treat our job, our spouses, our kids, our friends, our EVERYTHING! Even how we view and treat Jesus!
Moving forward requires a lot of repenting. After realizing this I repented of abandoning my first love. I repented of enjoying the blessing more than the one who blessed me, and I repented of allowing a busy life to take charge of my relationship with Christ. However, I understand this is something that won’t just go away – it is a battle that must be fought every day, for the rest of my life. Thank goodness, we have the power of the Holy Spirit to hold our hand as we do so.
A practical step of repentance can also help. For instance, I made a plan. I have once again set aside a time where I can spend quality time with Jesus. I have also set a prayer reminder so I don’t have any excuses.
Can I encourage you today? If you are feeling distant from God, I’ve been there. And so has everyone else who spends their life following Jesus. But God doesn’t leave us alone in our distance to figure it out. He is always with us. He is never far away. He is always near. When you feel that tug, that whisper that says, “seek me” then seek him (Jesus) diligently and full heartedly. He wants you and your heart (lest I communicate something else by offering practical help).
Here’s the thing, we who are in Christ need Jesus on a day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute basis. When we neglect to spend time with Him, it greatly affects our ability to honor him, which greatly affects our ability to love and disciple him and others, which greatly affects our mission to share the Gospel!