About 6 months ago, I encountered a season that felt familiar (as in a trend) but at the same time it felt so distant and new to me that I didn’t know what to do.
History came to repeat itself when I had three panic attacks in one day. Nobody did anything wrong, I had just let a lot build up and then I felt it break…again…and again.
That’s what I do. I let it build…and when I can’t handle it anymore…I let it break.
God, all of a sudden, felt distant to me and that’s never been how I’ve felt with Him. At least not in the last nearly 5 years.
I was fully devout, as much as a college freshman, fully human, young leader could be. I was more sold out for God than I had been sold out for anything in my entire life, including ministry, which I never saw as a career option or path. I was reading and writing everyday, going to Bible school as well as university, attending church on Tuesday and Saturday and ALL day on Sundays. I couldn’t get enough. I was taking everything in, taking steps, writing things that mattered and that felt like something to me.
It felt God breathed, intended, intentional.
Right before beginning college, I also began working for the local church. In years following, an internship evolved into part time gigs and full time contract work, I finished my degree at university in four years (even though I was so behind), went through a hard season medically that God somehow carried me through, did an internship in Florida that ended up stealing my heart for a second summer as a staff member…God was clear and evident to me.
I didn’t always trust Him immediately but it was rarely His lack of clarity and more about my lack of wild obedience. Even in the things amongst that season which were ugly and broken and hard to understand, He never felt foggy.
Recently, I’ve been questioning. Nothing seems clear. I’ve been hard to convince, not taking things at face value. Reading my Bible, hearing opinions, but asking why? and huh? and what? a lot because
it seems harsh and heavy handed and complicated when I know and believe in a simple Gospel that doesn’t make it hard for people to turn to Jesus,
that loves at all times, and
that paid one price for all of humanity to enter into eternity.
It doesn’t make sense to me why God would let bad things happen, or why people die cruel deaths or are treated unfairly. It doesn’t make sense to me why my heart turned towards God when I was young and I was always treading, trying to follow Him. Yet, my 65 year old Dad has heard the Gospel multiple times, who I’ve had loving and hard conversations with, still makes me cry when I know he has yet to accept the eternal hope of Jesus.
And then this week I went to a church service that was speaking on the person, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Truths seeped into my heart being reminded that Jesus gave us His Spirit because He didn’t want us to be alone. That we come to know God through the Holy Spirit which I believe because that’s my story in replication. My desire to attend church literally came out of no where, when it didn’t even make sense for me to go, after many invitations and prayers and it changed my life forever. But it was never church that changed my heart, it was the Holy Spirit working through the church that brought me into the arms of Jesus and the Holy Spirit lead me to fall in love with the body of Christ.
As I sat in the service, I was also reminded that because of the Holy Spirit He is more interior and intimate to us than we are to our very selves. The Holy Spirit isn’t the spooky part of Christianity, or the glazed over part of the trinity, but the divine prompting that we could never be. Not by our own power are we selfless, loving, fearless or do we willingly forgive. Thankfully, He softens us and His whole agenda is to lead us closer to Jesus. As we come closer, hopefully we lead others closer too.
Love God, love people.
The past few months, the past month in particular, I’ve been more doubtful than I have ever been. Drier that I have ever felt. But I’ve never completely let go.
Only by God’s grace. Only by moments like these that He moves my lips to pray out loud, or He wakes me up in the morning to read by Bible until my heart is eased (it’s utter desperation, searching for assurance), do I believe that I am safe and secure in the arms of Jesus when I am deathly afraid of death itself.
And then as the guy on stage in the cool sweater and the microphone started to describe this instance/situation; I listened intently.
He was explaining this time where he felt there were people in the room who had made a significant act of obedience 5 years ago. That these people had known God was calling them to something and they said “yes” even if it was terrifying and not well supported. They continued to follow acts of obedience when the roads forked, and there were multiple times that this happened, when finally they get to the place that after so many “yeses” to God, all of a sudden it’s like looking around and feeling like He’s left you. That you’re lost or He’s forgotten you or He’s become distant.
And the weirdest thing was that this was exactly how I felt.
Nearly 5 years ago to the day I started attending the church I now have the privilege of working for.
When the road forked, I chose to engage. I chose to go public with my faith and be baptized. I chose to quit my jobs and take an low paying internship. I chose to stay with the internship when I could have left and made more money or had a new experience somewhere else. I chose to apply for a summer internship in Florida where I saw God show up probably in the most visible ways. I chose to go back to work for the church part time when there was transition of leadership and next steps were completely buried. I chose to take a full time job the next year, under new leadership but take the summer and go back to Florida. I chose to stay at the church after I graduated. I chose to start a Young Adults community that I absolutely stiff armed and nearly quit. And now I was there, after all these forks in the road, in the place where I felt like instead of growing closer to Jesus over time we had only grown apart.
Then he spoke the words…
God’s bonds are indestructible covenants & He is pledged to us by Jesus.
“Never will I leave you.
Never will I forsake you.”
He began to pray and he mentioned a situation that was face to face with the season I am in currently. I felt my breath, and I felt God come close…I tipped over.
Not all days do I believe it. Or feel it. Or sense it. Or trust it…
but in that moment the cavity in my heart caved in while my palms fell even further open and up. I came completely undone and fell back together all at once.