The Feelings are Gone … is God?

The Feelings are Gone … is God?

When I go to youth group retreats, I feel like I get very close to God. But then I come home, and I back away from my faith.
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Q. When I go to conferences and youth group retreats, I feel like I get very close to God. But then I come home, and I back away from my faith. I love Jesus and want to grow in my personal relationship with him, but how can I stay close to God like when I am at conferences?

A. I'm glad you've experienced the joy of feeling close to God. I have, too, and those are special moments. Conferences and other inspiring events like that are like inhaling—you can feel yourself getting filled. But inhaling can't continue indefinitely. We need to exhale, too.

In our walk with God, the "exhaling" means going out to serve others, living by faith and not by sight, and trusting God even when we don't sense his presence at the moment. All that is an important part of the spiritual life, too.

Some people have pointed out that we all enjoy "mountaintop experiences"—those high points like you describe at conferences and retreats—but most of our daily growth takes place in the valleys. It's in the struggle and the daily routines that we put into practice what we've seen on the mountaintop. Those mountaintop feelings are great, but they are only feelings. God calls us to live by faith and to commit ourselves to living fully for him—by regularly praying, following his will and reading our Bibles—no matter how we're feeling. Hopefully you'll have opportunities to both inhale and exhale regularly.

Marshall, a former pastor, is now editor of Leadership Journal, a magazine for pastors.

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