When I graduated from high school, I thought the friends I had at the time would also be the very friends that would share life together during our college years, the ones who would stand beside me on my future wedding day, and certainly the same friends I would confide in with sorrows and joys for the rest of our lives. Oh how things changed.
As we chose different colleges that were best suited for our majors, distance came between us and our friendships grew apart, and eventually became nonexistent. College quickly engulfed us and we became too busy, and we all just stopped talking. Had we kept closer contact and not blatantly quit communicating out of inconvenience, our friendships would most likely still hold true. We would probably still be taking lots of trips to Outback for cheese fries and making memories together.
As I reminisce on the pattern of those friendships, I remember something my dad has always told me – “time is the most important thing you can give someone”. To maintain a friendship, or any type of relationship for that matter, we have to be willing to put forth time and effort. While this is true of friendships, it is magnified in our relationships with Christ. Have you ever felt distant from God? Has your relationship with Him ever seemed to have lost its close connection? This has happened to me many times. SO MANY TIMES. Still does. So many times, I have felt far from God and that my once close relationship with Him has deteriorated. I have always compared this feeling to that of numbness, but instead of physical numbness, its spiritual numbness. Numbness to reading the Word. Numbness to prayer. Numbness to Him.
Last year, I hit rock bottom with my relationship with Christ. Out of nowhere, I just felt numb to God. I wasn’t doing any sort of sin that would cause me to distance myself from God, I was still attending church, still discipling teenagers outside of church, still attending a campus ministry, and everything else that I was a part of. I just felt numb. I continued to work in the ministries I am involved in at my church, but it was noticeable that something was missing, I wasn’t right. My friends could see it. I wasn’t mad at God about anything, but I didn’t feel Him close. There wasn’t a lack of peace, but there wasn’t an abundance of peace either. It was complicated.
I’ve always been the one who is very transparent with her close friends. Sometimes, too transparent. Eventually, after some time, I sought out help. I immediately sent out a group text to my close group of about 9 friends. Something along the lines of…
“Hey friends! I could really use some prayer. Lately, I’ve just felt so far from God and so numb to the Holy Spirit. I’m not sure where I stand in my relationship with Him, but I really need prayer to figure it out. Love you guys and am so thankful for your friendships!”
I’m pretty sure that was one of the texts word-for-word. Praise the Lord for those friends!
I immediately felt love as a few of them sent me verses in scripture and thoughtful words of encouragement. Those who included scripture verses only included the Bible references, so I had to look them up to see exactly what they said. When I opened my Bible to read the verses, I quickly realized something. It had been a while since I took the time to study God’s word. Reading the Word wasn’t a problem, but my lack of studying it and digging deep into His fully loaded words was where my threat had been posed and from where my numbness stemmed. I instantly missed it. I missed that overwhelming sense of peace blanketing me as I read His Word in a manner of reading to comprehend and apply it to my life, not to simply check off my bible reading plan.
Like a newborn infant needs his/her mother’s milk for nourishment, we need our spiritual nourishment found in scripture. When an infant grows hungry, their shrieking cries tell that there is clearly something missing. Through their cries of discomfort, the mother must intervene and provide some form of fulfilling nourishment to silence the infant. The infant cannot attain this specific form of nourishment for themselves and would cease to grow if the nourishment were stopped.
Our relationship with Christ operates in a similar fashion. Just as an infant physically feels the lack of food, believers feel “numb” when they are not being spiritually fed in God’s Word. Christ is the only one who can intervene on our behalf to overcome this spiritual discomfort. We are completely incapable of filling ourselves spiritually, and the only way to reach a satisfaction in our numbness and discontented times is to find a secure refuge in scriptures. Our discontent and numbness will not be “silenced” until we take root in God’s Word and allow Him to speak to us through His scriptures.
After I read the verses suggested by my friends, I flipped my bible to my favorite book – Ephesians. All marked up and highlighted, I read the words that Paul had read to the church in Ephesus. As I read through Chapter 3, it hit me. It hit me why I wasn’t feeling the fullness of Christ. I wasn’t reading His Word to know Him deeper. Paul’s simple words leaped off from the page and hit the bullseye of my heart.
Paul tells the church of Ephesus that he is praying for them
“to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that [they] may be filled with all the fullness of God” (3:19).
As I analyzed this one specific verse, I noticed that Paul makes two profound connections. First, he shows the utter importance of the love of Christ. By claiming that Christ’s love surpasses knowledge, Paul is saying that Christ’s love is far beyond the reach of what we as Believers (who are still fleshly influenced humans) can attain on our own. Second, Paul correlates the love of Christ with being filled with the fullness of God. How can we know God’s love if we do not read the “love letter” which He has provided for us?
As I said in my last post…I can’t tell you what Christ’s will is in your life, but I can tell you where to find peace, comfort, and refuge. Scripture. I find deep peace in trusting the Lord with my life, but it does not come without fleshly controversy. Daily, I wrestle with balancing the inconveniences of life while trying to keep my relationship with Christ a priority. Countless times, I fail to keep Him the focus of each day and find it difficult to actively seek His will in my life.
We often assume that Christ is not near or that we are consciously far from Him and His will for our lives. In reality, He has never distanced Himself. We distance ourselves when we do not spend quality time pursuing our relationship with him beyond a surface level. Just scratching the surface doesn’t allow continuous growth. Through my own experiences with feeling numb to the Lord, it is only when I’m not pursuing a closer and more intimate relationship with Him. Digging deep into His Word and uncovering His promises, commandments, and examples is more than a suggestion. It is crucial.