The Ebb and Flow of Spiritual Life
I am a big believer in the immediate presence of God’s Spirit. There are periods in my life when the sense of God presence can be wonderful and overwhelming. There are also times when the sense of God’s absence can be absolutely crushing.
Despite such extremes, I do think the ebb and flow of spiritual life has a rhythm. Neither do I think we can spend all of our time on the emotional high we all experience when we feel close to God, nor do I think we are able to handle for extended periods of time the lows we endure when we have no sense of God’s presence in our lives.
So, what can we do when we feel a growing distance from God? First, we can simply read God’s Word for breadth. On such occasions, I usually open the Gospels and read them in sequential order. I don’t try to look for anything special. I read the narrative not worrying whether I am able to remember everything I just read. It is in the consistency of reading the Scriptures I often, even subtly, begin to experience spiritual renewal. God’s Word feeds our faith so it is important we spend time grazing in the Scriptures.
Secondly, I pray for God to examine my heart (Psalm 139:23-24). Sometimes, I have an area of my life needing to be challenged. In such cases, God often gets my attention by withdrawing a bit. Notice I said, “God examines my heart.” If I try to plumb the depths of the well of my heart, I can easily find fault with myself. Thus, I sincerely ask God to search my heart and wait to see if anything comes up. Sometimes this happens in one setting, but most often I pray this prayer over the course of several days or even longer.
During this time of examination, I may become aware of a bad attitude, a lack of gratitude, unkindness, a critical spirit, unbelief, disobedience or I may discover I am allowing things of this world to take hold of my heart which hinders my friendship with God.
I try to remember God is present to us in the person of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit tells us in His Word He can be both grieved and quenched (Eph. 4:30, 1 Thess. 5:19). When we grieve those close to us or if we do things to dampen the relationship, the best remedy is to find out how we are creating the tension and stop.
The ebb and flow of spiritual vitality is not an issue of salvation, rather it is an issue of intimacy. I always remember God is faithful and we are forgiven because of the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ for all of our sins. Knowing this is the both basis of our friendship with God and growing in intimacy as well.
In His Presence there is fullness of joy!