In Pursuit of God
Getting to know him on his own terms.
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
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1. How do we misinterpret our feelings of God's presence or absence?
All Christians have an understanding of what God's presence is to them. What happens when, like many times in the Bible, God hides his face (Is. 54:8; Ps. 30:7)? Do we recognize the absence or manufacture the presence? We also assume that presence is always pleasurable. Being near to God is linked to euphoria, joy, and ecstasy. While there is no greater joy than the presence of God, being near him in a genuine way will also create fear, awe, and humiliation.
Christians have just as many misconceptions about God's absence as well. We believe that God's absence is always rectifiable—we can always fix it. This is not true. Sometimes God prolongs seasons of absence for years or even decades before closing the gap. Secondly, Christians almost always associate absence with retribution. If God feels far he must be getting back at me for something. But absence may also be the wooing of a lover, the building up of desire, the creation of longing, the reality of being a sojourner, or any number of other purposes.
2. How should we respond when God feels distant?
When I'm traveling for a speaking engagement and my wife doesn't come with me I pursue her. I make phone calls, send text messages, show her pictures of what I'm doing, and pray for her. I do not fabricate my wife's presence when she is absent through fantasy, self-indulgence, or replacement by adultery. The easiest trap we fall into when God feels absent is pretending he is present.
Instead, let us use these moments of absence as a cause for pursuit. Let us push into prayer, fasting, Bible reading, worship, communion, evangelism, fellowship, and meditation with greater zeal. The zeal comes from the fact that we searched for our loved one and found him not. The search does not end until we finally receive his full and immediate presence in heaven.
3. When do you feel most connected to God?
Sometimes it is in worship or morning Bible reading. Sometimes I feel most connected when listening to a song in my car or when taking a quiet walk or repenting to my wife in tears or washing the dishes while whistling. The point is pursuing God and being sensitive to when he is most pleased to draw near to you. Genuine connection to God is established by God.
When God Isn't There
Thomas Nelson ©2016
David Bowden is a writer, speaker, and spoken word poet living in Oklahoma City with his wife Meagan. While earning a degree in Bible and Biblical Languages, David worked as a pulpit minister and, subsequently, a youth minister for a small local church in Oklahoma. After graduating, he co-founded the international non-profit "Give a Goat," serving needy families in the Philippines.
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