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Archive for July 2016

Divine Distance

There is a truth about all of us and that truth is that we will wrestle at times with the absence of God, a divine distance if you will. As we have learned, the greatest promise of the Bible is that God is with us. Even in the most difficult moments of our lives, God promises, “I will be with you.” Yet even with this great promise from God, each of us will at one time or another struggle with the perceived absence of God’s comforting presence. The challenge for each of us is to find a way to hold on to God when we feel as if He has let go of us often causing us to fall into a painful disorientation of our faith leading to a perceived absence of God.

A disorientation of faith may come when someone has lost a job or experienced vocational failure. A disorientation of faith may happen when the word comes back from the doctor’s lab that the test was positive. A disorientation of faith comes when you feel you have failed as a parent. Or it arrives the day someone you loved with all your heart has died. You prayed; you hoped; you don’t understand.

Any of these events will cause us to question the presence of God. Church historian Martin Marty entered a dark time following the death of his wife, Elsa, from cancer. Disoriented by his loss, Marty lamented, “Why, O Absence, when the cry is most intense is the silence most stunning? The passionate heart searches for answers.” Similarly, C. S. Lewis wrote after the death of his wife, “Where is God?…Go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence.”

You see, the hardest part of divine distance is the aversion of God’s face, what feels like his absence, that is the greatest pain…“I cry to you for help, O Lord; in the morning my prayer comes before you. Why, O Lord, do you reject me and hide your face me?” (Psalm 88:13-14). It was the cry of Job after he was stripped of his children, possessions and health, “Why do you hide your face and consider me your enemy?” (Job 13:24).

Friends, there will be a time in your life that you will struggle with the absence of God in your life. This will likely be one of the darkest times of your life. When this does occur and you are experiencing a divine distance in your life, now this, you are in good company and you are not alone. As the psalmist wrote, “The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” (Psalm 23)

You are not alone, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave your nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

“Today I shall behave, as if this is the day I will be remembered.” Dr. Seuss

~ Tim Hall
https://twitter.com/1timothy12
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at 1timothy46@gmail.com)

The Struggle is Real

“Why LORD, do you stand far off?” Psalm 10:1

The absence of God in my life is a real struggle for me. I know in my heart that He isn’t far, but in the day to day struggles of life, I often feel a lack of His presence in my life, and this week has been no exception. It is nothing that God is doing to make me feel this way; it is what I do or don’t do that makes me feel that God is far off. Maybe it’s a particular sin in my life, or an anger in my spirit, or a lack of personal investment in my relationship with Him. All of these things can make the struggle real for me in my perception of God’s absence in my life.

Luke’s gospel tells a story that helps us identify the one obstacle that keeps us from being close with God – it is the story of Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-42). Luke tells us that Martha was “distracted with much serving”. He doesn’t say that she was busy or overly committed, but that she was distracted. Now, to be distracted means to have your attention diverted and it is distraction that becomes our greatest obstacle in our closeness with God. So, what is distracting you from your relationship with God? Work? Family? Your addiction? Sin? Your health? Your smart phone?

The truth is that we all face distractions in our life and it is what we do during those distractions that matter. Later in the story of Martha and Mary, “…you are anxious and troubled about many things” (in other words you are distracted with many things) but one thing is necessary” (Luke 10:42-42). For Martha and for us, the one thing needed to help us understand the truth that God is never far off is to be with Jesus no matter what else is going on around us.

Jesus made God’s presence available to anyone who wants it. So, if distraction is our greatest obstacle in feeling God’s presence in our lives, then all we need to do is invite Jesus into whatever we are doing at that moment… “Jesus, in this moment, I invite you to be with me.” You see, we don’t need to stop what we’re doing to be with Jesus and feel close to God. We just need to invite Him to be with us.

“Lord, today I commit my day to your care.”

“Today I shall behave, as if this is the day I will be remembered.” Dr. Seuss

~ Tim Hall
https://twitter.com/1timothy12
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at 1timothy46@gmail.com)

God is Close

“How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” – David

Have you ever spoken words like this? Maybe in the quietness of your spirit you cried out, “God, why are you hiding?” Or maybe during a gut-wrenching moment in your life, you wondered where God was and you shouted, “Why have you forgotten me?” I wonder, have you ever cried out to God like this? I have…more than once…and recently.

I think many people feel a perceived absence of God when their prayers aren’t being answered or there is a battle with some kind of health issue. I can certainly relate to both of these. I have prayers that haven’t been answered and after four years, I’m still battling a stomach issue that I haven’t been healed from. You see, unanswered prayers, health issues, not getting the desires of our heart, loss of a spouse, loss of a child, loss of a job, loss of any kind can make us think that God has abandoned us and He doesn’t care. In those moments we cry out, “Why LORD do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1)

Well, the truth is that God isn’t far off and He isn’t hiding from you. He is closer than you think. He hears our prayers and He hears our cries. In our darkest times, He is there. In the ordinariness of life, He is there. The story of the Bible isn’t primarily about the desire of people to be with God; it’s the desire of God to be with people. In fact, the greatest promise of the Bible isn’t “I will forgive you.” The greatest promise of the Bible is “I will be with you.” It is the reason for our courage, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). When Jesus was born, his name was Immanuel, which means God with us. God is closer than we think. When Jesus left this earth, he said “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

“God is determined that you should be in every respect his friend, his companion, his dwelling place” writes John Ortberg. In others words God is not hiding from you, He has not forgotten you, and He is not far way. God is close and his desire is to be with you. So, “The LORD be with you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-27)

“Today I shall behave, as if this is the day I will be remembered.” Dr. Seuss

~ Tim Hall
https://twitter.com/1timothy12
(I encourage feedback, questions & comments – email me at 1timothy46@gmail.com)