Monday, June 5, 2017

Dear God, Where Have You Been?

I was recently talking with a friend who expressed that she didn't “feel” God. I've felt that way before. I've wondered why at times I don't feel His presence or have the desire to know Him more. I've questioned everything about Him. But the truth is that even when we don't “feel” God, He's still there. Better yet, He's not just somewhere in heaven—for Christians, He's inside of us! It's a shockingly amazing reality.


So why don't we always feel Him if He truly is so close? If our best friend was standing beside us, we would be aware that s(he) was there. Even further, we would be excited that s(he) was present! Why isn't it the same with God?

If you are feeling this way, my first question is “Have you been reading your Bible lately?” God wrote each of us (Christians and non-Christians) an awesome love note. But are we taking the time to read it? The analogy I used with my friend is as follows:

If your boyfriend wrote you a letter, but you didn't read it, and he if sent you texts but you never replied, and if he left you messages on your phone but you never listened to them, and if he tried to talk to you but you didn't listen, how much of a relationship would that be?

Friendships go both ways. God has written you a letter, have you read it? He's constantly around you, are you looking for Him? In creation? In every breath you take? Every good and perfect gift is from God who never changes. (James 1:17) Even if we entirely turn our backs on Him, He still gives us breath. He blesses us with beauty around us and people who love us. He takes care of us.

He's always there. Are you looking?

I'm not saying that there aren't times when strong Christians who are looking for God and reading their Bibles don't struggle with this question. It's a daily fight to remember the reality that Immanuel—God is with us. There are times when the battle is stronger than others. Every Christian has seasons in their life. Times when everything is going well, and times when it feels the world is crashing down around us. It's easier to say “don't doubt God” than it is to live out, but it is nonetheless still true. God is still God—even in our trials. He is still with us, and that's the biggest blessing of all. Doesn't it take faith to trust this? Yes. But the Bible says that without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6)

I recently read a quote in Outrageous Courage: What God Can Do with Raw Obedience and Radial Faith that further explains this. After quoting Psalm 23, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me," the author writes:

Even Jesus, in his perfect obedience, cried, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?" But then you discover that it is in the dark valley that the God of the impossible shows up to protect you, break the prison chains, make you fireproof and even raise you from the dead. Nothing fuels your passion for trusting and obeying God like a walk through the dark. (Vallotton, 2013)*

Join me in remembering this. Tack up a paper on your wall that reads “Immanuel—God with us”. Take time to look at the beauty in creation and remember that He made it all. The God who created all things is living inside of you! Fill your lungs with air and thank Him. Count your blessings—there are always some. Don't forget the marvelous truth that GOD IS ALWAYS WITH US. Nothing will ever change that. And He will always walk with you through the difficulties that you are facing.


*Vallotton, Kris and J. Vallotton. 2013. Outrageous Courage: What God Can Do with Raw Obedience and Radial Faith, Bloomington, MN: Chosen Books, 61.

26 comments:

  1. Such an important message. Thank you!

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  2. Well said. This is great reminder for those who, like me, have felt distanced from God. Stay strong in your faith. :)

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    1. Thanks, Ivie! I'm glad it served as a good reminder for you. :)

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    2. Hey, totally unrelated note. I saw you live in California and I have a question. A while back, I bought some headphones online. They came and had a sticker on the bottom of the package saying there was a substance known to the state of California to cause cancer, reproductive harm, and birth defects. I looked up information about that and a lot of people were saying that this warning is put on a lot of stuff everywhere in California. I was just wondering if this is true because I've been hesitant on using the headphones. I was hoping you would know.

      I know this is totally random and odd. Sorry.
      God bless. :)

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    3. It's true that those warnings are present on many items in CA and even some stores have signs saying that items within have that. I know of one time that warning was on a pair of sunglasses someone in front of us in line was going to buy and when the person saw that they put it back and left. My family tries not to buy items with it, but I'm not trying to convince you one way or the other.

      I hope that was at least a little helpful. And don't apologize! It was actually refreshing to see someone else who is contentious of such things.

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    4. Thank you for answering. I just don't know what to believe about that. Some people say its overdone because a lot of the items don't contain chemicals to that degree and others say they just won't buy the items. It can be very confusing.
      Thank you again and God bless.
      <3

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    5. I don't really know enough to tell you anything definitively. Sorry. I hope you get it sorted out! You're welcome. ♥

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  3. That was wonderfully worded. You truly have a God given gift! Thank you!

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    1. Thanks! That means a lot! ;) I'm glad that you enjoyed reading it, my friend!

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  4. This is so true I have friends like this. This blog helps me to know more of what to say!!

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    1. I'm so glad that you were able to find this post helpful. I'll keep your friends (and you) in my prayers!

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  5. Just tacked that note up.

    Bethany, I can't tell you how much this post meant to me, or how much it encouraged me. It's too much to put into words. But know that it did, and that I appreciate it. You spoke truth with love, not forgetting about the truth that needs to be told but not neglecting the love either. Thank you.

    -T. x

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    1. Your comment warmed my heart more than you know! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. I'm blessed that you were encouraged. Keep your eyes on Christ, my friend!

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  6. I much agree. When I started studying the Bible more my senior year of high school, I became much closer to the Lord, even if my relationship has gotten a little bit looser and tighter alternatively over the 2.5 years since.

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    1. It's a great feeling to be close with Christ. It's also a daily struggle to stay near Him. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  7. Good post. I recently watched the movie Indiscribable ( https://www.google.com/search?q=indescribable+movie&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-us&client=safari#mie=e,overview,indescribable%20movie,H4sIAAAAAAAAAONgVuLSz9U3yEsqzrPIeMSYyC3w8sc9YamISWtOXmMM4uIKzsgvd80rySypFHLhYoOy5Lj4pJC0aTBI8XAh8aWkhCS4BPWT83NyUpNLMvPz9NMyc3KLRRkYGux5AOXdCd5yAAAA)

    It does an amazing job of tackling this question. I highly recommend it.

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    1. We recently watched that as well. It's a very good movie! Thank you for recommending. :)

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  8. I'm piping in a little late here, but Bethany, do you know my life? Of course you don't - God used your blog post to encourage me without your even knowing it. I recently went through a "dry season." By His grace, God has revived me now, but reading your post and thinking about where I was - even in hindsight - was very helpful to me. Actually, a friend encouraged me to see these seasons not as "dry" seasons, but as spiritual winters. I don't know where you come from, but where this particular friend lives, in winter, many trees lose their leaves, become dry and appear to be dead. The sap doesn't even reach the branches in winter. They don't look pretty, don't produce fruit, and don't serve much good if any at all. But it's the ideal time for pruning. Should these trees be pruned in the summer when their sap is flowing, the wood would become gnarled and ugly. But because the sap doesn't reach the branches in winter when the trees appear dead, pruning them at these times permits the branches to grow back pretty and straight. I wish I could say I came up with that analogy myself!

    All this isn't to say that winter seasons - particularly when we feel we're doing our part to seek God - are desirable, but I think God is capable of redeeming and using even them, hard though they may be. They are opportunities to persevere and live out faith that is not based solely on feelings. They are opportunities to look at our history with God's transforming work objectively - to remember that He's proved faithful in the past, and will be faithful again.

    I'm sorry... I don't know how you feel about comments of this length, but I couldn't help myself! I can't tell you how excited I was to read the title of your post and then the post itself. Thank you!

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    1. I love long comments! They are so enjoyable for me. :)

      That analogy is stunning. I will have to write that down and share it with people. If you think it would be okay, I actually might include that in a blog post. Thank you for sharing it—and you explained it very well!

      I'm absolutely blessed that this post encouraged you! Hang in there, Jordy! I keep reminding myself that God's plan is ALWAYS best! :)

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    2. Feel free to write it down and share it. I mean, it's not my analogy to begin with, but the person who shared it with me did so publicly, and I think he would be glad for others to be encouraged by it.

      Thank you so much, Bethany!

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    3. Thank you! I will do that. :)

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  9. Great post Bethany! Very beautiful wording! Keep it up!

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    1. Thank you! You're encouragement means so much!

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Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog! I really appreciate feedback—your thoughts are what keep me blogging! I always reply to comments, so be sure to check back!

Please be considerate of others and please keep all comments God-honoring. Your comment will be visible after I approve it. Thank you!

Bethany R.