When I Don’t Feel God


SOLAScriptura2

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

 

amberhaines
About me

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19 Comments

Lori Harris
Reply March 11, 2013

You make me cry this morning, Amber. Some happy tears, some sad tears, and yes, I do feel you-in all of this. Thank you ~

jessica Y
Reply March 11, 2013

This was my prayer this morning.
"Holy Spirit, take control, fan the flame within my soul"

SO thankful that my faith doesn't depend on how I feel. But I LONG for intimacy with the Holy Spirit in my all day ins and outs.
Thanks Ms Amber.Some good. Praying for your day sister.

tammy@meadows speak
Reply March 11, 2013

For me right now, this emptying is hard and lonely.

    Amber
    Reply March 11, 2013

    Tammy, it's terrifying.

    I think I'm only just now believing that it's actually the only way to know what it means to delight in God. There is no knowing whether or not we'll drown in the process.

    I read this morning for the first time in a long time in Romans that those of us who believe actually died with Christ on that Cross. It's hard to take that in. I'm still kind of stuck on it.

Barbara Isaac
Reply March 11, 2013

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.
Oh Amber, this is so so good!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you.

Tanya Marlow
Reply March 11, 2013

What if I don't feel God?

This has been my question, the whirling-round at the back of my mind one for the past two and a half years. It's not the suffering bit that's hard, it's the God part.

"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."

These words - yes.

Thank you for giving voice and dignity to my feelings. I feel like you're a little step ahead of me on the same path, and we all need people like that. Much love to you.

P.s. got your email! Will reply post-sleep!

kelli woodford
Reply March 11, 2013

Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe.
I need a dose of that kind of seeing on a regular basis. I don't just need to say amen after three points and a poem, an intellectual assent, I need that free wind to blow where it will. I need God to happen to me. This is Spirit. And this is true.
But I like what I hear you saying, too. That we expect Him, perhaps, to show up altogether like us. Like math and not art. Predictable, not mystery. Like we are the ones prepared for the worst, but rarely for the best.
Going back for a second read. This is rich, Amber. Thank you.

Kelly @ Love Well
Reply March 11, 2013

I have chills. Every cell in my body is screaming, "Yes and amen!"

I remember listening to Beth Moore one time. She said you cannot depend on passion to fuel your faith. But we are made for passion, and if we deny it, it will come bursting out somewhere. That's the source of many an addiction.

We cannot live passion-less lives, so best steer it toward what lasts.

Amanda @wandering
Reply March 11, 2013

I am in a similar but different place. For the last several years we have been worshipping at a place that some would say falls more towards feelings, and then in the new year we have ended up at a reformed church. It is very different for me in some ways there - I miss more of the "feeling" - but I am being fed in ways I didn't even know I had been starving. I want my kids (and myself) to know the many aspects of God - the power of His Spirit and the power of His Word. I am still learning how I will hang on to the other things I think are important that our new church doesn't emphasize, but I am so thankful that God has led us to this new place. I am being challenged and encouraged like never before. (I hope this all makes sense.)

    Don Sartain
    Reply March 11, 2013

    Haha, growing up in the non-denominational world, and being Reformed now, I can completely sympathize. I absolutely love the Theologically rich, gospel-centered preaching and study, but I do miss the times when we just waited on the Spirit to move. Some of that is just having services back to back, but there's also a tendency for Reformed churches to only focus on Scripture and not "feel" the Spirit move as more non-denomincational/Pentecostal churches do.

    I'm sure there's a balance. The problem is finding it, lol.

Linda
Reply March 11, 2013

There was a time I pleaded with Him for the rush of feeling. It was only when I simply rested in Him that it came - a gentle wrapping of His hands around my wrists.
This is so beautiful Amber.

    Amber
    Reply March 11, 2013

    Linda, I'm so grateful for your wisdom, always.

Don Sartain
Reply March 11, 2013

For the mountains may depart
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”
says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
Isaiah 54:10 ESV

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XD0cvWImVjA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxFyX29pZnI

And, remind me to tell you about my Reformed Pentecostalism sometime :) lol

Gennie
Reply March 11, 2013

Needed to read this today. Thank you.

Laura Bray
Reply March 12, 2013

I have never posted a comment before, though I have been reading your beautiful blog... This post made me weep. I am currently serving in India and feel the pressure of God's call. It is easy to sit back in the mundane and to ignore the awaiting intimacy... And it is precisely so hard because the Lord is so frequently out of the realm that I feel even remotely able to exist in. I am walking this very thing out right now...Husband, presence and intimacy with the Lord, the mundane... all of it. Thank you for this post. It brought much truth to the root of my heart today.

Erin
Reply March 17, 2013

I've never commented here before, but this speaks to me in a deep and profound way; I have to give fair warning that what follows is kind of difficult. Two weeks ago, I got back from a year in Uganda serving with imprisoned children. I saw horrible things, lived through daily corruption, mourned the death of life taken by disease and injustice, and loved with everything I had. I saw God in every smile, every laugh, every hug I received, but now I feel empty. I never really had the time or chance to process the hard things I was seeing and doing.

I'm in the camp not of those who have a hard time making a habit of belief, but of those whose beliefs aren't felt. So, even though I KNOW He's an always-good God who never plans for evil things, I don't feel it to be true anymore. How can a 13 year old girl die alone, in prison, from infected 3rd degree burns and He be good? How can children as young as 3 be left alone to beg on the street and He be good? How can babies be thrown away in pit latrines and He be good?! The injustice, corruption, and unfairness of life is straight out of hell and these kids live it every. damn. day. And I'm supposed to go and share the good news of God's love with them? Where is it?

This is where faith comes in because I KNOW the answers and I believe them. But I can't make myself feel them. With such a disconnect between the two, for someone so feeling-oriented, it leaves a huge chasm between me and God. To attempt to deal with the darkness between us is scary and painful and feels so HUGE. But here I am, writing this out because in His goodness, He pursues me. He draws me back to Himself. Calling me out on the water. So, thank you for sharing this because Satan tells me I'm alone in this, but I'm not.

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