When God Feels Distant

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Do you want to feel closer to God? Leslie Ludy gives you advice and encouragement for intimacy with Christ.

One of the most common questions I hear from young women is, “How can I get closer to God?” Many Christian girls feel a barrier between themselves and God, and they aren’t sure why it’s there.

James 4:8 says,

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

One of the biggest hindrances to intimacy with Christ is allowing sinful habit patterns and unconfessed sin to remain in our lives. It’s easy to draw near to Christ with our words, but if our hearts are filled with bitterness, jealousy, anger, selfishness, idolatry, and impurity, we cannot truly be close to Him.

Contrary to what we often think, it is not enough to merely say and believe the right things about God. If we want true intimacy with Him, we must let Him gently shine His searchlight deep within our souls and remove any patterns or attitudes that are not pleasing to Him. Walking in the light is what allows us to have unhindered fellowship with our King.

As it says in 1 John 1:6:

“If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”

If unconfessed sin or ungodly habits have been hindering your relationship with Christ, consider the following practical steps:

Make Things Right

Set aside a long period of time when you will not be interrupted. Come before God with a humble, yielded heart. If you don’t know what to say to God, pray the words of Psalm 139:33–34: “Search me, O God, and know my heart . . . see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Ask Him to gently show you any sinful pattern in your life, or unconfessed sin in your past, that needs to be made right. Write down anything He brings to your mind, and then ask Him to forgive you, cleanse you from that sin, and grant you the grace to repent, which means to turn and walk in the opposite direction.

Consider any practical steps that God might be asking you to take in order to walk uprightly in this area of your life. For example, are you in an ungodly relationship that you need to walk away from? Are there sinful habits in your life that need to change, such as gossip, dishonesty, or sensuality? If He brings conviction to your soul, be quick to respond.

Ask Him to give you the strength to make decisions that honor Him, even if they are difficult. God’s Word reminds us, “To one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). So don’t put off any steps of obedience that you know God is asking you to take. When you walk in the light, nothing can stand between you and true intimacy with Jesus Christ.

Don’t Go Fishing

Remember that when God forgives you, He washes you completely clean, and removes your sin as far from you as the east is from the west.

Psalm 103:12 promises, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

Once you have repented and asked Him to forgive you, He no longer sees that sin when He looks at you.

Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

Once you have repented, do not allow the enemy to continue to hold your past sins over you or fool you into thinking that you are unqualified to experience intimacy with Jesus Christ. As Corrie ten Boom said, “When God casts your sin into the depths of the sea, He posts a sign that reads: ‘No fishing allowed!'” So whenever you are reminded of your past sins, immediately remember that old things have passed away and all things have become new—and then live according to that reality.

You Can’t—But He Can!

Only the grace of God can give us victory over sin; enabling us to do in His strength what we could never do on our own. Elisabeth Elliot wrote, “God never issued instructions which He is not prepared to enable us to follow.” This is the reality we must accept when it comes to walking in the light and living uprightly.

Of course, we will all have times of stumbling and failure. But by His enabling grace, sin does not need to control our lives. Rather, when we reckon ourselves dead to sin but alive to righteousness, He provides every bit of enabling power we need to triumph over sin and compromise. He doesn’t just tell us to live a set-apart life; He gives us strength to fulfill that call.

If living a God-honoring life feels impossible, that’s because it is! At least, it’s impossible in your own strength. Beware of trying to muster up your own willpower as you seek to live a set-apart life. Rather, ask God to enable you, by His grace, to live the life He has called you to live. Remember that in your weakness, His strength is made perfect.

Keep in mind that Jesus longs to be close to you, even more than you desire to get close to Him. He is eager and ready to cultivate a daily relationship with you. As you draw near to Him, He will draw near to you. The Bible promises us that when we seek Him with all our hearts, He will be found. The King of heaven and earth desires to walk closely with us each and every day! What an exciting opportunity—let’s not miss it!

Written by Leslie Ludy

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