Feeling Close to God
"God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. 'For in Him we live and move and have our being.'"1
A Daily Encounter reader writes: "I wonder if you could give me some advice. Sometimes I feel as though God doesn't like me and seemingly does everything to make my life a living nightmare. I have done all that I can to change my life and repent for all the things that I have done in my past, and yet I still don't feel the warmth of God's love. Is it possible that it has anything to do with my not being christened or baptized?"
"Of one thing you can be certain, God loves you totally and unconditionally no matter how you feel, what you have ever done or have failed to do. Be assured, too, that it isn't God who causes our problems. We happen to live in a broken, sinful world where we all face trials and go through tough times. We won't be delivered from tribulations until we get to heaven.
"In the meantime, God wants us to keep growing towards wholeness so we can overcome many of our personal struggles.
"Also, when God feels far away, it isn't God who has moved. The barrier is in us. Neither does it have anything to do with whether or not we were christened or baptized. While Jesus picked little children up and blessed them, He didn't christen them, and (though some will disagree with me) as far as I know there is nothing about being christened as such in the Bible, and while baptism is important, not being baptized doesn't cause God to distance Himself from us.
"When God feels far away, it can be caused by un-confessed sin and/or by persisting in doing things we know that are out of harmony with God's will. More often than not, however, that barrier has more to do with our impaired relationship with others, and especially so if it was with our parents in our developmental years. For those who had a close, loving, warm relationship—especially with their father—it is very easy to feel that God, the Heavenly Father, is also close, loving, and warm. But for those of us who felt that our father was distant, cold, and/or punitive, we tend to project that onto God the Heavenly Father and feel that He, too, is cold, distant, and punitive. I've had to wrestle with this problem, too, so I can understand how you feel.
"To overcome, you not only need to confess your sins to God, but you also need to have an open, honest, and trusting relationship with other men—or at least with one soul brother with whom you can share all your inner thoughts, feelings, victories and failures—one who will not judge, criticize, put you down, or tell you what you should or shouldn't feel or do, but one who will love and accept you just as you are. Ask God to give you such a soul brother. As we grow closer to others, we will be able to feel closer to God. (If you are a woman, you need a soul sister for this type of supportive relationship.)
"Also, be sure to commit and trust your life to God every day no matter how you feel. Remember that God is close to you whether you feel it or not. Learn to thank God and accept this by faith regardless of how you feel."
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank You that You are not far from me and please help me to find the help I need so that I will be able to face and resolve any and all barriers in my life that cause me to feel that You are far from me—so that I will not only know in my head that You are close, but feel your closeness in my heart. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."
1. Acts 17:27-28 (NIV).