Where is God When I Need Him?
John 14:23 If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
In the midst of my greatest life disaster, I found God to be painfully absent. As I could not feel or hear him, I questioned his existence and became angry at him for abandoning me. Where are you God when I need you most? How dare you leave me to rot in my own destruction. I insisted on pursuing me and then had the audacity to wonder why I found only me.
In today’s passage, Jesus said that God’s Spirit will dwell in those who love him and follow him. Unfortunately, I had lived for years, loving and following me. My faith in God consisted of an intellectual acceptance of him that I somehow kept separate from my behavior. I think I knew of my hypocrisy as I clung to verses like John 3:16 (Whoever believes in me…). I considered myself a believer as I accepted God’s existence to be true.
In that condition, I avoided passages like this one, which suggested that I loved God only if I obeyed him. I did not want to face the truth that his Spirit lives only in those who follow him and keep his commandments.
Here is the reality that I desperately need to understand. Daily, I can follow me or I can follow God. I will come to know that which I follow. If I insist on pursuing self, I will come to know the inevitable destruction of self. The greatest destruction may simply be that my pursuit of me keeps me from finding God.
One of the greatest promises in all of the bible though, is that if we pursue God, He will reveal himself and live in us. God is everywhere, but we do not comprehend the manifestation of his presence until we follow him. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them… I will love him and manifest myself to him (v 21).
If I find God distant or absent from my life, I must ask myself if it is more likely that I have failed or if God has failed. The truth is, God never left me. I left God and then wondered where He went. This seems obvious now but in the midst of my destruction, I could not see it as I did not want to see it.
It takes brutal introspection and honesty to see that I am the source of my misery. I want to blame my job, my circumstances or my neighbor. I want to blame God. I blame anyone or anything as long as it deflects the fault from me.
If I want to know God though, I alone bear the responsibility to follow him. If He is distant, it is because I have turned from him to self. He always dwells in those who love, obey and pursue him. If He is absent from my life, I must be painfully honest about why.
Those who cannot accept that they are the source of their own misery will never accept that God is the source of their joy. They will continue to ask God to fix everything around them, avoiding the one thing that needs to be fixed.
If I want to know God, I must daily choose to turn from me to pursue him. If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me (Luke 9:23).