A few months ago, while talking to a close friend, this question popped up.
He said, "Nearly every morning, soon after waking up, I sit down and read my Bible and spend some time with God in prayer. Sometimes, he seems so close, like he is sitting next to me, and other times it feels like I might as well be talking to the wall. Why does God do that? Why does he step away sometimes? It just doesn't make sense."
These questions really hit me that day. They are questions that I have asked myself many times but I hadn't really talked to anyone about. Growing up, I was always taught that the God of the universe wants to know me personally. That if I seek him, I will find him. In my experience, however, and I think in the experience of all humans, God doesn't always present himself close and within reach.
Sometimes God's spirit will come out of nowhere and lift the hairs on my body and cause goosebumps to ripple across my skin and give me a sense of peace that is beyond understanding. But sometimes, even when I am truly seeking him, it is as if there is nobody there. In these times, I often falter and begin questioning if he exists at all.
I am not a theologian and I don't think becoming one is my calling, but after pondering this question for a few months and talking to another friend about it, I think I have stumbled upon at least an inkling of an idea why God steps away sometimes.
God doesn't want the feelings of peace that he provides or our Quiet Time with Him to become an IDOL
As human beings, we are made to worship. One way or another by choice or by pressure, we will worship something or someone. If every time we pray, God instantly filled us with his peace and presence, we would Idolize those feelings that he gave us or would Idolize our Quiet Time with Him. We would no longer seek after him. but would seek after that feeling. God would basically become a drug to get a fix from. No longer would God be in control, but we would. He would basically be a genie in a bottle that we could make appear and give us what we wanted. Although, we might think this is what we want, it was never supposed to work this way.
God does provide a peace beyond our understanding, but he does it on his time and when he knows it's what we need. He is in control. He is God and we are not. Also, although he provides this peace, he is so much more than just a feeling. He is way too big for us to put in a box. Those feelings of peace are just PART of who he is.
I think it's related to why human eyes cannot see God. If we could see God, we would worship his physical image and not who he actually is. We would gather gold and make a sculpture of his image so we could bow down to it. Again, we would try to put him in a box and we wouldn't respect that he is so much bigger and so much more than his physical image. Many eyes did see Jesus, but he went away and sent his spirit instead, maybe for this very reason.
Instead, he wants us to seek after him and by Faith know that he will comfort us when we need it and will fill us with his peace when the time is right. HE is in control and we are not.
I believe in Heaven and believe that the time will come when we will never have to feel this distance again. But, for the time being, we can rest assured that if we seek after him, he will fill us with his presence, when we need it, not when we think we would like it.
What About You?
Have you ever wondered why God feels so close sometimes, but so far away other times? Why do you think he keeps this distance?