You said Yes to Jesus. The honeymoon of your spiritual journey was wonderful! But now God seems far away. Those feelings have left; has God left you too? Where is He? Were all your wonderful feelings just fake? What felt so easy now seems distant and hard. You may even be questioning your salvation.
Your head may know that your salvation is not dependent on your feelings, but that may not lessen the struggle when the early glorious emotions of sensing the presence of God seem to evaporate. What do you do then?
I love feeling the presence of God. Whether alone or in the company of other believers, there’s nothing on earth that compares with sensing a connection with Him in your soul. You’re hungry for more. Following Jesus seems easy. Your emotions seem in line with everything you know God wants you to do. It’s absolutely glorious, and you want it to last forever.
Then one morning the feelings are gone. Did you do something wrong? Has God left? Was it all an illusion? What do you do now?
The Place of Feelings
Feelings are wonderful! Without them our lives would be bland. Jesus experienced all the feelings you and I have; fatigue, sadness, joy, connection, loneliness, anger, desire, deep distress, hope, joy. Sure, our emotions have been affected by living in a sinful world. But the root emotions we experience are created by God as part of making us in His image.
But our feelings were never intended to become a guide. Feelings change. Always. (Ask any married person.) Emotions are important; they color life, and provide invaluable information on your own heart and the world around you. But following feelings would be about as wise as using the clouds to navigate instead of a GPS.
Your feelings are real, but they are not the whole truth. Are you questioning your salvation because your feelings have changed? That’s not a good criteria. Learn to befriend your feelings, and then look for the rest of the truth. There is always more to the story that what you are feeling.
Object Constancy and Love
What does all this have to do with feeling the presence of God? Everything.
When a baby is born they have no sense of object constancy. Mommy or Daddy is there when they can see and feel them. When Mommy or Daddy leaves the room the child may become anxious, unsure whether the parent will return. As the child grows they develop object constancy, the ability to “hold” an image of the parent in their mind even when their physical senses can’t see or hear them.
Our relationship with God can be like that. The early feelings are wonderful! With some spiritual growth one becomes able to believe that God is there even when the feelings aren’t.
It’s part of our human nature to begin relationships with a flurry of feelings. It’s like dating; the butterflies churning in your stomach and the fireworks exploding in your brain make it hard to concentrate on anything else. But those feelings are not love.
The glorious feelings in your early relationship with God are like the candy and flowers you shower on your beloved while courting. God loves blessing His children with wonderful feelings and other good things. But God is not after a girlfriend; He’s after a church who will be His bride forever. We need to keep growing until we can trust Him whether or not the feelings and other good things are there.
Talking about trust, can God trust you?
The longer your relationship with God lasts, the less your relationship should be based on feelings. A couple married for decades with a solid relationship will have periods of wonderful feelings between them, but their relationship is not based on that. It’s based on commitment, trust, and love whether or not the feelings are there in the moment.
Remember, the teacher is always silent during the test. Our government prepares its top soldiers to go behind enemy lines where communication may be cut off. Our most trusted, most skilled warriors are put into the most dangerous circumstances. Commanders trust them to act in fulfillment of the mission even when things become treacherous.
How much can God trust you? If you’re not “feeling” it right now, see this season as an opportunity to stretch your trust in God based on what He has done for you in the past. This time may be an indication that God is trusting you with the next challenge.
Can’t Feel Him? What to Do:
Briefly, if you’re not feeling God around you right now, or questioning your salvation, here are a few things to do:
Go Into His Presence. God’s presence is not a feeling; it’s Him. Go where He loves to show up; into your prayer closet, somewhere in nature, in a gathering of other believers. Worship. Choose to go there. He will meet you.
Do the Next Right Thing. Have you walked away, by not following something He asked you to do, or resisting something He wants to change in you? Look at your heart. If you are saying Yes to Him, just keep doing the next right thing.
Keep Walking. Like an athlete in training, some days you feel it, some days you don’t. But you keep showing up. Keep doing what you know to do; read your Bible, pray, connect with others. And stick around long enough for the Holy Spirit to do His work in you.
Don’t base your spiritual life on feelings. God hasn’t gone anywhere. He loves you too much to let you go! “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
Your Turn: Where have you been judging your relationship with God or questioning your salvation based on your feelings? Will you choose to just keep walking? Leave a comment below.
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- Questioning your salvation based on a change in your feelings is not wise. Your feelings are real, but they are not the whole truth. Learn to look for the rest of the truth. Tweet that.
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