A Time To Wait

November 16, 2010


Dear Sadie,
I am at my wits end and I need your help. I feel so alone, hopeless, useless and empty. It’s as if God has abandoned me. I don’t feel his presence in my life and am beginning to wonder whether or not I am actually saved. What is going on? Why do I feel this way? One minute I am on top of the world experiencing the full embrace of the Lord— filled with his Holy Spirit and on fire for Him; the next minute I can’t feel anything. I look around me and all my friends shine with His light…I feel dead inside, almost as if I am in hibernation. I remind myself of a backslider who has fallen away from God….I don’t want to be like that. When I read the Word, I can’t understand it. My mind goes blank! He’s not speaking to me like He used to! Has he forgotten me?
--Empty
Empty,

Oh, how I just want to walk up to you and give you a huge hug right this very minute! 

I know where you’re coming from, and I understand your desire to feel the presence of the Lord and experience Him working in your life 24-7. I, too, have desired this exuberant, awe-inspiring presence of the Lord in my life on several occasions, only to be given— what I like to call— the busy signal

I would pray and pray and pray to experience that vigorous and powerful mixture of emotions, but it never came. I waited and waited and waited a little longer, but felt nothing! I asked myself: “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I feel God?” 

All I wanted was something that would lead me to believe that He was still working in me; that I was still destined for greater things and that He hadn’t forgotten me. After all, these feelings are only normal, right? And since you feel this way too, do you think we’re the only ones who have felt this way? 

We’re not crazy for thinking about this, are we?  

 These feeling of nothingness, emptiness and uselessness are something every Christian goes through every now and then, isn’t it? Or are we the only ones? 

Listen, my dear friend— God hasn’t abandoned you. And don’t ever doubt your salvation. God gives His promise of eternal life to all of those who choose to believe. (John 3:16). So, just because you can’t feel Him, doesn’t mean you are no longer saved. 

You are not forgotten. 

And because God is the amazing and powerful God in which we serve, you should never doubt that He would leave you or forsake you. He says in Hebrews 13:5-6 (bold emphasis added):
“… 'I will never leave you, nor forsake you,' so that we may boldly say, 'The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do to me.’”
This will not be the first time, nor the last time you will ever feel this way. This feeling you have is NOT because God considers you less than worthy to carry on his cause. In fact, this feeling is in preparation for the continuation of your part in furthering His kingdom. 

Remember the busy signal I told you about? Can you guess what that busy signal symbolizes?  Time.
           
 Time is a very important aspect of our maturity as a Christian. And in conjunction with time is the need to rest. Rest is something all Christians need in order to grow, mature and develop in their daily walk with Jesus Christ. Ever heard of the saying: Time changes everything? Well, some people think that in order for change to occur they have to make it happen themselves. And often enough, Christians –trying on their own terms—to grow, understand and mature in their faith end up failing and falling hard. 

Here are a few verses for you to look us on "doing it ourselves":
Psalm 68:1-10,32-35Psalm 121:1-2 John 17:1-111 Peter 5:6-7
Read those verses, then tell me what you, as a human being can do on your own accord without God.What are we without Him?

Also, for some other verses on the matter of being unable to do it on our own, look up these, too!:
2 Corinthians 1:3-7Isaiah 40:28-311 Corinthians 12:12-26 Galatians 5:1-11
And remember, these verses aren't mean to make you feel inadequate, only encouraged, because we can do all things through Christ....not of ourselves (Philippians 4:1)!

Even though God is always with us and is eager to show us the wonders of His majesty, He is in no hurry to develop our Christian life. God Himself sets the pace in which we grow and mature as Christians, not us. God is God, and we are simply a part of His magnificent creation. We can only see a fraction of the grand picture He is painting, and as of yet, we still cannot grasp our inadequate minds around His divine plan!      
  
Do you find it all too much to understand?

You would think that since God isn’t an author of confusion that understanding His purpose would be easy. However, God works in mysterious ways and, in a sense, its best that we not know, or understand His purpose for everything in life. It keeps us on our toes, keeps us watching, waiting, and dependent on the Lord. 


However, I doubt this is your problem. Your letter sounded so desperate and so scared, as if you had lost someone so dear and near to you. I know when God shows Himself constantly for a certain length of time we can become dependent on His presence. We feel so secure, strong, and invincible; so safe, hopeful and loved. But when the time comes that God chooses to give us rest, it’s normal for us to feel scared and abandoned.

But, remember— He’s still with you! 

The reason God chooses to give us periods of time when not much is happening and we’re not experiencing that frivolous high, is so that our confidence may subside; so that we can get to know ourselves and realize that without God, we are weak and He is strong! The Complete Green Letters by Miles J. Stanford refers to a piece of writing done by John Darby, who happens put this concept of time and rest in simpler terms:
“it is God’s way to set people aside after their first start, that self-confidence may die down […] We must get to know ourselves and that we have no strength. Thus we must learn, and then leaning on the Lord we can with more maturity, and more experimentally, deal with souls.”
Based on the principal of growth (2 Peter 3:18), the Christian life becomes more productive and mature as we grow in “grace and knowledge”, rather than through struggles and experiences. As you can see, the growth of the Christian life takes time and isn’t instantaneous. Neither is it a uniform thing.   

Have you ever noticed that when you cut down a tree, there are different sized rings that make up the trunk? Are the all uniformed? No! In fact, they are all quite unique in their shape and size. Don’t you agree? Not one ring is the same. During the tree’s life it experiences different periods of growth in which some happen to be more rapid than others. The more rain and sun the tree gets, the bigger and wider the ring will be. 

And when the tree isn’t able to get the water it needs to support mature and fast growth, the rings will be smaller in size. In the words of A. H. Strong: 
“…growth is not a uniform thing in the tree or in the Christian.” Just remember that it takes Time. Christian growth is neither perfect nor consistent.
One must also be careful about the dangers of taking the easy way out, in other words, don’t take the shortcut! It may get you farther ahead in the game, but it will not produce long-lasting results. 

Remember, slow and steady wins the race. These shortcuts will give you instant results, gratification and that emotional high that everyone desperately wants. But, unless the time factor is acknowledged by the heart, you run the risk of becoming reliant on the instant gratification, and become pitifully entangled in the current of ever-changing feelings and emotions. 

The types of feelings one gets by taking the easy way out will not last. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the only way to become a mature Christian is to constantly experience God’s grace and presence in your life. This concept is superficial. And it definitely doesn’t guarantee maturity. This whole time thing is based upon patience and faith; not “experiences” and “blessings”.  

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