When I Don’t Feel God
About two months ago, I painted two of my bedroom walls, and since then I’ve been in book-writing mode – no brain space for the pale grey blue I need to finish up. Between me and those blue walls, too, are always the spilling baskets: laundry and bills, inboxes and book bags. It’s such a machine of filling and spilling here, and it’s so easy to interpret life as mundane. Some days are drudgery. It’s true. We get in bed by 8:30, but the baby-on-the-hip days keep me two sore shoulders and heavy eyelids from engaging. Sometimes I just shrug at the great sex I had looked forward to around a 2:00 in the afternoon. It’s like that, isn’t it? Sometimes there’s not much going on that makes us cling. There’s nothing to be brave about.
It’s like intimacy and God’s voice are always on the other side of these things, the mundane.
In fact, so many of us blast the battle cry of “Sola Scriptura,” reasoning our way to heaven through the scripture, studying God in English while denying the fire through which it was written. I’ve been guilty, the desert-land of belief, of church, even of good theology. We’ve rooted out feeling at all, and I’m watching many believers shrug their shoulders at the emptiness and walk away.
Where is the fire? The Clinging? My generation is throwing off their Sunday dresses and begging to know what it was all for. Where is my shelter? I’m all alone here. We all hit the phase where we just don’t feel it anymore, so what do we do then?
My reformed, mystic heart breaks all the rules. Nothing I do should be contrary to the intended Spirit of scripture. I say it that way because I do believe their are cultural interpretations to consider in the context of scripture. Living aligned with scripture, I whole-heartedly believe we can hear the voice of God, that Romans 1 states that none has an excuse to deny God because His invisible attributes are plain throughout creation. You look at the stones and the sky. You see God. You don’t worship stones or the sky, because they’re created, not Creator, and that would be dumb, but look around. Invisible God is everywhere indeed.
She who has an ear, let her hear Him whisper. There’s no reason you shouldn’t feel God, but your faith doesn’t depend on how you feel, just like my marriage doesn’t depend on whether or not I feel like ravishing Seth on the daily. But let’s think about it: if we didn’t have sex for a super long time, I dare say our marriage would be at risk of falling helplessly apart. There comes a point that we have to feel it. It can’t be merely the study of the Bible that keeps us anchored, no programmed drudgery or machined “christian living” that seals us. This is about the Holy Spirit. This is about what we believe and how it changes us. Faith is not a feeling, but it is certainly not void of feeling.
Often, I think we just have PMS, but I’m talking about something darker than this, the desert feeling that death might be a forever void, that we are alone here. Not just doubt, but the silence that goes on for months, when the trees shake in the wind, and there seems no God behind them, the stranglehold of lies webbed over our spiritual sight. There is no stronger choke than that of unbelief, how it all goes numb in a relentless grip.
Sometimes I think we don’t feel it because He has called us to wait on Him for something, and then we got mad about it, and we gave up. We forgot about the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and our hearts turned inward, as toward an idol. When you first believed, you thought you’d never do such a thing, but then the silence came. Only gratitude, the practice of being God-aware, keeps us from going spiritually numb during the wait. But sometimes it’s more than even that.
At the heart of it, I believe we aren’t feeling God because He’s calling us to follow in His nearness, and often we simply don’t believe that we can do that because He has a habit of walking on water. I can’t walk on water. Now faith is not something we can go cook in the kitchen. It’s all Him; that’s the thing of it. Often I think we feel the emptiness because we confuse it and fear the emptying, how we have to pour out to be filled.
Right now, He’s out on the water for us, calling us to the impossible walk, and too often we hang on to the boat, and we rock in the mundane machine of No thank you, I’ve got this.
To follow Jesus Christ is no walk on cold black coals. It’s a burning with Abednego. It’s a nothingness in us then filled with the presence of the God who hovered over the void and spoke it into explosions of life.
Last night, I was crouched in the floor with my camera watching life whirl through the lens. I wasn’t feeling it, but a beautiful song came on as something simmered on the stove, and Seth annoyed me, grabbing my hand and pulling me up to him. He said dance, so I leaned in, and it took us an entire song to baby step one little circle around. The words said, “hold on,” and so I held, and he clung to me, and my nose buried in his neck. The kids screaming and running through, and we were clinging, and tears fell down my shirt.
Love was made to feel, not just in the chemicals of emotion, but in the habit of belief. Love is a following, the leaning in, a clinging. Love is emptying and filling.
Nothing whispers impossible like Love. Do you feel me?
Ask Him to show you where He is. Now be strong and courageous. Go and walk on the water.
original image here