Many times in my life I have felt like I was completely alone; that even my God had abandoned me. That is not the greatest feeling in the world. As a matter of fact it is one of the worst feelings imaginable. Sometimes the reasons for these feeling are plain and at other times it is inexplicable why I feel so dejected. I know God is always there, so why is it so hard to feel his presence sometimes?
So much of our faith is heartfelt that we often times forget that our minds also need to be focused on God and that our faith needs to reside there as well. Sometimes we just don't feel like God is near, so we don't feel like following Him. It is during these moments when we must make a conscious choice to be obedient. I say we, but I am really speaking for myself. When I feel abandoned by God, I don't feel like making any sacrifices for him. It's almost as if I want to punish God - okay, God, you aren't helping me the way I want you too, so I'm going to hold back my praise and my obedience. Like some sort of petulant child.
Hebrews 13:8 tells us that Jesus Christ is today the same as he was yesterday, and will be the same forever more be the same. It is we who change. So during those times when we feel so separated from God it isn't because he is not there. It is because we are not making the right choices to be close to God. We choose sin and we choose to be separate. It is very simple. By that, I mean the equation is simple. The choices are not always as easy as 1+1=2. It would be exceedingly advantageous if they were, but life is so often more complex than simple.
Yes, life is complicated. This is why it is a great idea, for me, to start my day off with some concentrated time alone with my Father. Yes, it's a great idea, but I admit, I'm not doing as well with this practice as I used to. I have been deeply depressed, so I've been sleeping in, instead of getting up at 5:30, while the house is quiet, to commune with Him. As I write this, I realize how paradoxical this is. The very thing that has the potential to pull me out of the pit I am in, is the very thing I'm not taking time for. However, right now, knowing that I need to get my butt out of the bed early, so I will feel better all day, isn't enough to make me do it.
I was at a Maundy Thursday service at church last night, and, I began thinking about this very topic. The topic-- doing something, even though we don't want to, because we know, in the end, it's the right thing to do.
Never was the humanity of Jesus more evident than in the hours before his crucifixion. He didn't want to do it. He begged to be set free from the sacrifice he was being asked to make. I daresay he felt God wasn't as near at hand as Jesus would have like at that moment. He didn't want to suffer, which is understandable; who does? However, Jesus was able to pull himself together and withstand the trial, the humiliation, and ultimately the pain of death, with a dignity that could only come have from God. He found a way too draw himself close to God in those hours, because he knew it was the only way he would be able to endure.
I am certainly not Jesus, but I can surely learn a multitude of lessons from the last day of Jesus' life. Well, I can learn from his whole life, but in particular the last day of his life contains some lessons I desperately need to learn right now. Yes, God is asking a lot of me right now. I am begging him to just set me free. I feel abandoned by him; but he's still here. He's telling me it's not time yet. He's telling me I still have things to do to fulfill his will in my life. I am standing firm on the promise-- he will never abandon me, or cast me off, as I press on toward the mark to which I am called.