You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
We recently received note that one of the heavily traveled roads near our house is going to be closed for 10 weeks in order to do repairs and restructure a bridge. Many of us who use that route regularly will quickly find that it is no longer available, and we have to find a new way to get where we’re going. There are other routes around it, but it will require a little extra thinking and planning on all of our parts.
Road closures happen. It’s a part of life.
Many of us deeply desire to know God. We have practices we are naturally drawn to that have helped us get to a point of connection with Jesus. Sometimes it’s reading the Scriptures, sometimes sitting in prayer, sometimes singing songs of worship. Sometimes it’s a walk in a park, making art, listening to music, or having meaningful conversation over coffee with friends.
But what happens when your primary way of experiencing God closes for a season?
How do we respond when the thing that used to work is all of a sudden shut down? We take the route we’ve taken regularly, but we find that we can’t get to the destination we used to easily be able to access.
One way the early saints described this was to call it a “dark night of the soul.” There wasn’t always an explanation for why it happened, but the reality was that God just seemed absent. Prayers were prayed, verses were read, sermons were heard, and faithful actions were lived…
yet the feeling of God being distant remained.
If you’ve had moments like that in your journey with Jesus, I want to encourage you today.
First, don’t live in guilt….
Now let's be honest that sometimes we claim that God feels far off, and the reality is that we are so distracted by selfishness, sin, and unlove in our lives that we wouldn’t be able to hear God’s voice if it was coming from a megaphone. We need to get our hearts right with God in those cases. But when we are seeking after God and the silence comes, we cannot let guilt control us. We walk by faith, and not by sight- so sometimes we keep walking faithfully even when it feels dark. We make the next Christlike choice at each moment, regardless of if we're feeling it or not.
Second, don’t be afraid to take a detour if the path is blocked.
The promise of God is that God is always accessible, never far from us, and longing to connect with us. Don’t lose trust in God. Faith is hard, but God is present. Sometimes we simply have to be willing to do a new thing, try a new discipline, adopt a new practice. For far too long many Christians have lacked the creativity to explore vibrant ways of being with Jesus. Here are a 8 possible detours to consider if you find that a road seems closed for a season seek to be available to the presence of Jesus...
1) If prayer feels empty, use someone else's words and pray the Psalms. That’s been the Church’s prayer book for centuries.
2) Try making art. Write poetry or a short story of your own faith journey.
3) Read small bits of scripture slowly for a fresh look, rather than large chunks for information.
4) OR (ha!) Read large chunks of scripture rather than little single verses to see the bigger story.
5) Go on a short walk every single morning to make yourself available to being present with God before you accomplish a thing.
6) Ask a friend who is also on the journey with Jesus to get together once a week and share about how the journey with Jesus is going. Sometimes when we are lacking in faith, we need to borrow someone else's for a bit.
7) Sit in silence with God without expectation, and simply be at peace.
8) Go out and love others in a practical way. Help a neighbor, do a random act of kindness, or volunteer somewhere. It may awaken you to Jesus in a new way.
A life with Jesus is a life of constantly navigating ways to to explore and express God's love. If you get stuck, don't give up.
A simple prayer:
God, reveal yourself to me today.