Is God distant simply because I messed up? Mainly because I angered him? Mainly because I created possibilities that created him mad at me? This line of queries is in fact a surprisingly popular e mail we get from people today, particularly when it feels like absolutely nothing in life is going their way. Today’s query comes from a listener named Kristen.
“Dear Pastor John, I am writing to you simply because I am pretty concerned that I have lost God forever. I have been pretty active in our church neighborhood, and about 3 years ago truly skilled joy in Christ. I felt the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and I was speaking and singing about God all the time. Later that year I met my now ex-boyfriend, who mentioned becoming so pleased and committed to my church was delusional, and that I need to not go as a great deal or listen so intently to what is taught at our neighborhood youth group. I was scared he would dump me, so I gradually stopped going to church and singing and praying as a great deal simply because I didn’t want to shed the man I believed was to be my husband. Even though dating this man I turned away from the church.
“I felt God was upset with me and would not take me back anyway simply because I had sex just before marriage. I was also pretty mad when my dad was diagnosed with cancer and I was possessing overall health challenges of my personal. Now I want to turn back to God, but I worry my heart is hardened. I really feel a discomfort in my chest when I come to church. Am I lost? Is there any hope for my restoration once again? I’m scared that I have squandered a thing valuable that can not be reclaimed.”
Kristen, I have a good hope for you — I assume a properly-grounded hope for you. But just before I give you a cause for that hope and invite you into it, let me say a thing sobering, which at very first may well make you really feel worse. I guarantee you that if you hear me all the way, it will be great news.
Following False Prophets
You say that the cause you doubt God would have you back is that you have messed up so badly. You had sex outdoors marriage, left the church, and got angry at God for your dad’s cancer and your personal overall health challenges. You are appropriate, that is terrible that you did that. But you describe your earlier situation as spiritually robust.
“God is aiming at a deep, robust, doctrinally sound, Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated, unshakable new you.”
You mentioned you have been active in your church neighborhood and experiencing joy in Christ. You mentioned you have been feeling the gifts of the Holy Spirit and speaking and singing about God all the time.
Now what I want you to do is take into account the possibility, which I assume is almost certainly the case, that your spiritual situation in these great years was not as great as you assume it was. You have been possessing lots of religious experiences — church, joy, gifts, and singing. But when it came to the actual obedience, exactly where you had to opt for the worth of Christ more than a boyfriend major you away from Christ, you chose the boyfriend.
Your circumstance was like the Israelites. Moses says,
If a prophet [not to mention a boyfriend] arises amongst you and provides you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, “Let us go following other gods,” which you have not recognized, “and let us serve them,” you shall not listen to the words of that prophet [or boyfriend] or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know regardless of whether you appreciate the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 13:1–3)
In a sense, I’m generating matters worse for you, appropriate? This does not really feel great, I’m confident. You failed that test. You chose the false prophet more than Jesus.
A Gorgeous Rescue
Let me inform you now why this may perhaps be truly great news for you. You interpret the final years of your life as a terrible departure from a close stroll with God, and I am suggesting that the Lord may perhaps be carrying out in your life a thing pretty various. I’m suggesting the Lord is not, in these years, permitting you to shed a close stroll with God, but rescuing you from a phony stroll with God. You may well have to listen to what I just mentioned more than once again.
I’m suggesting that, in the final months or years (I cannot bear in mind how extended you have in thoughts right here), God’s not permitting you to shed a close stroll with him, but rescuing you from a phony stroll with him.
Your stroll was pretty religious, but not true. If you loved Jesus so small that a boyfriend was far more significant than Jesus, you did not have a close stroll with God. What ever it was, God wrecked it, appropriate? He wrecked it.
A Greater Strategy
Now, via the miseries of that wreckage, he has awakened in your heart a new want for him. He’s not inviting you back to the old type of joy and singing and church life. No.
“God is carrying out a thing far deeper and improved than calling you back to a phony faith.”
He’s not calling you back to the type of faith that concealed a heart that was prepared to commit idolatry as quickly as the boyfriend came along. He’s got a thing way improved planned for you than that.
He’s rescuing you from that fake faith. God is not restoring a thing so weak and so superficial it couldn’t hold you out of an unbeliever’s arms. He wrecked that and then spared you. He spared you from marrying that man. What a present.
Get in touch with to Be Challenging
God is carrying out a thing far deeper and improved than that. This is my interpretation of what he’s carrying out. You have to test this to see if it is of God. He is aiming at a deep, robust, doctrinally sound, Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated, unshakable new you. Not a return to the old religious you that sells Jesus like Judas for a thirty-pieces-of-silver boyfriend.
Kristen, I could hear you say, “Whoa, these are challenging words, Pastor John.” I wrote them figuring out they have been challenging, Kristen, simply because I want you to be challenging.
I want you to be challenging, unshakable, unbendable in your allegiance to Jesus as your supreme treasure. No loosey-goosey, churchy, emotional stuff any longer. I’m speaking significant, deep-down, unshakable, genuine allegiance to your King and supreme treasure. I’m not interested in generating you really feel soft appropriate now. I want you to be challenging.
That is my hope-filled interpretation, Kristen, of what God is carrying out in your life.
Now, right here are a couple biblical factors why you need to really feel hope as an alternative of despair. The discomfort in your chest at church will, I assume, go away when you take hold of these truths and knock Satan more than the head with them. I’m going to recommend that you study (and this is risky) Ezekiel 16. It is pretty extended — 63 verses.
It is a horrible depiction of unfaithfulness in between Israel and her husband, God. It portrays God providing her more than. He provides her more than to terrible, horrible judgments. Do not cease reading, Kristen, till you get to the final 5 verses. They come as a staggering, totally astonishing act of gracious forgiveness. I’ll study them to you:
I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, that you may perhaps bear in mind and be confounded, and by no means open your mouth once again simply because of your shame, when I atone for you for all that you have carried out, declares the Lord God. (Ezekiel 16:62–63)
Even far more to the point, Kristen, take into account why God saved the apostle Paul only following he had grow to be a Christian-killer and a persecutor of the church. Here’s the cause Paul provides (you want to hear this for you): “I received mercy for this cause, that in me” — place your name in right here, Kristen — “as the foremost, Jesus Christ may well show his best patience as an instance to these who have been to think in him for eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:16).
Kristen, God saved Paul from becoming the worst instance of a legalistic, hateful Christian-killer so that you would really feel Christ’s best patience and take heart to think on him for eternal life. I will pray with you that God grants you to see this and really feel this and happily come residence.