[vc_row fullwidth="false" attached="false" padding="0" visibility="" animation=""][vc_column border_color="" visibility="" width="1/1"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"]There are days that are more than just Mondays. There's a weight to them. More than tired. Beyond frustrated. Worn out. Some describe it as a spiritual cloud. Others boldly call out names and strategies from the netherworld. I am sure I have tried both. But the only reason we seek to identify it (whatever "it" is) at all is the need for relief. We want answers that will lift the cloud or fight back the unseen forces. We crack open the Bible. The Divine, revealed Word of God should be all that is needed, right? Yet, there are times when the words on the page remind us of the distance. Something written can only go so far to convey the heart, the tone, even the sparkle in the eyes. Reality in the flesh and mystery in the spirit appear to live on different continents. Oceans between us. Actually, time, space, and eternity between us.
Before you call me out as a heretic, remember that Jesus was the one who called out the Pharisees for diligently studying the Scriptures to find eternal life (John 5:39). Their heads were full of Biblical knowledge, but He still cried foul. What were they missing? Well… Jesus. The words on the page, intended to be a thousand tiny nerve endings, connecting the heart and the head, transmitting spiritual synapses pointing only to Jesus, were misfiring. The problem with reading the words when the nerve endings are disconnected or frayed? You guessed it. You don't feel a thing.
The cloud stays.
You left us with a promise. That you would be with us, forever. That there is an experience for now that is not what will be then. We wouldn't be alone. You would leave a Helper.
Why then do we feel so alone sometimes?
Can I just say that I'm not always ok with this invisible relationship thing? Spirit and flesh need to be together. Letters written from distance make the heart long for a face to face.
I rarely have to travel with my job, but there have been times when I have had to leave for a week or more. It's accepted and everyone does their part to make it work. But… it's hard. Routines are messed up. Lisa bears even more of the weight of everything. The Bammers make do. We muscle through. But, we know it's not how things should be. We're better together.
Absence is said to make the heart grow fonder. Could it also be said that extended absence could eventually make the heart give up? Or at least get a little indifferent and cold? At the very least, we begin to learn how to cope without the person who is away. Could this be what I am experiencing with my relationship with Jesus?
Of course, a church curmudgeon will have none of this talk and seeks to swiftly correct my shallow thinking. (For some reason, I continue to give these guys free rent in my head, with shelves for their position papers.) Their words hit my heart like a neon sign at a cheap motel , buzzing and flicking in the cold night air.
This is just how it works. God loves us and is with us in Spirit. We must endure until we see Him face to face. (buzz buzz… flick)
Yes. He is. With us. He's Immanuel (God with us) and I could continue with that line of thinking and probably come up with a few arguments and bullet points that would fit nicely into an outline for a sermon.
But what about today? Today, You feel distant. Today, I'm missing you. Why do you feel so far away? Why does my experience of your grace feel like I've poured the last drop out of the bottle or picked the last crumb from the plate?
The classic preacher line at this point is: "God didn't move. You did."
Thanks for that tweet.
How can He be so far and sometimes so near?
Our relationships here have one striking advantage. We can see each other. As far as our relationship with Jesus is concerned, he described future believers (yes, that's me and you) to Thomas as those who are "blessed" because we believe without seeing (John 20:29).
There are days though (today) that I'm with Thomas. Lord, let me put my hands in the wounds. Might I just hear your voice? Look into your eyes? Hear you laugh? See you smile? Feel your hand on my shoulder?
John penned some of the most beautiful and mysterious words in all of the New Testament when he said this: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life."
What I wouldn't give to see and touch. To see past the veil, through the temporal and into the eternal.
Lord, can you connect just a few of those nerve endings?
In the same letter, John throws a life-line to the weary, and cloud laden: "We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."
When you aren't, He is. When you don't, He does. Where you fail, He has already succeeded. He is fighting for you at this very moment. He is face to face with the Father, on your behalf this very moment, and He will make sure your face to face becomes a reality.
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