There have been times in my life where I have felt very close to God. Like trusting Him, seeing Him and knowing Him was just as easy as breathing. There have also been times where it felt like God was so far away – like even though I would seek Him, I couldn’t feel Him.
Have you ever felt like that? Like you don’t know the next step to take – you want to trust God and go with Him – but you feel stuck. God doesn’t change, but our relationship with Him does as we learn to see Him more day by day. This change takes time- it takes seasons – each one teaching us something about Him.
During one of the times I felt stuck, my friend introduced to me the following concept – I cannot remember her exact words but this is the imagery that has stuck with me…
Sometimes you are running with God. These are the times when loving Him comes easy and feeling Him is just like breathing. Everywhere you turn, there He is. It feels so natural to praise Him for all the beauty and strength you feel and see all around you. This can be during a really good time in your life – or a really bad time. The circumstances don’t matter – it’s the relationship you have- this deep, smooth, progressive time I call running with God.
Sometimes you are walking with God. This is what I think of as the day to day. It is in the mundane times when you are at a constant pace. You know God is with you. He is growing you in a special way to seek him in the ordinary. Maybe this is a time where God knows you just need to take it slow- or rest for the next challenge. You are shining Jesus through the everyday tasks (which can be the hardest for me). The thing I need most in these times is consistency. To keep seeking Him, when I feel Him but it is easy to be distracted by everyday life.
Sometimes you are standing with God. When it feels like the wind and rain are beating down against you. You try to walk – but you can’t. You feel stuck. You are seeking – but it is hard to see God in a tangible way. You trust that He is there, but struggle to hear Him, see what He is doing in all of this. This is a good time for cultivating faith – To believe that God is able to do all that He has promised, even though you don’t feel His constant reassurance as when you are running and walking – trust that He is good and can do what he has promised (Romans 4:19-21 – where Abraham is ‘fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised’ – to give him a son even though he was old and his wife barren). It’s ok if all you can do is stand. Fight for it- Trust that he is for you. One verse that gives me comfort in these times is ‘The LORD himself will fight for you; you need only to be still.’ (Exodus 14:14)
Sometimes you are sitting with God. It can be sitting and enjoying His presence- or so exhausted you need to just sit with Him and let Him take over. For me, this is usually a time where I realize how weak I am. How much I need Him to fill me and help me to be like Jesus. These are good times of filling- and it’s ok not to be standing, walking or running. Sitting is just as good as these. Do you know the story where Mary sat a Jesus’ feet and ‘listened to his teaching’ (Luke 10:39). She wasn’t busy doing work, she was listening and was blessed for it.
The thing is, none of these seasons are better than the rest. They are all necessary. They grow you- but in different ways. As much as we would all like to stay in the running phase forever- I feel like it is much like being in love, there are so many levels to what we call love- and you cannot reach the next unless the first has finished its full work in you. It also seems to be cyclical- but not linear- meaning we go through these cycles again and again but they are different each time, because we are different each time (having grown from the last cycle). But they do not always occur in this order and God can take you through each for any period of time he wants… from hours to years.
I realize this is not a perfect analogy for our relationship with Jesus, but It has helped me to understand some hard, slow or confusing times – I hope it does the same for you! Whatever season you are in, remember, it is a good season- if you let Him, God can bring something to His lasting praise and glory from it- whatever it may be.
What phase are you in right now? What have you learned so far – and what do you hope to learn from it?