Jesus teaches in John 17:14 that His followers (like you and me) are in this world, but not of it. We live by different standards. We have benefits available only to us because we are God’s chosen people (James 2:5; 1 Peter 2:9). Spiritual truths are revealed to us that are hidden from people who don’t yet know Christ (Colossians 1:26).
As followers of Jesus Christ, we have chosen a different way of life. We have chosen a Kingdom of God life! We walk according to the Spirit and not the flesh . . . at least that’s what we want to do, right?
But anyone who has been person of faith for very long knows there are times when God feels very close – and oh, those are sweet and wonderful times. But there are also times when He feels distant and there seems to be a degree of separation. Maybe you feel that way now.
You know God is real. You know His Word is truth. You know He is faithful and loving . . . and in your mind, you know that He is living inside of you! Even if you don’t “feel like it.”
So why do we go through times when He feels distant . . . and what can we do to return to the closeness we know we can experience?
First, it’s not God who causes the separation. He says that He will never leave us or forsake us. That means He’s doing His part to stay near. His Word says, “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6
Therefore, we are the ones who have brought about the change.
I believe this happens for many reasons. But one of the most common is that we slowly start to allow other things to enter into our lives that distract us from our Father. In the same way that this can happen with natural relationships, it can happen with our relationship with God.
If you have a close friend that you’re used to talking with daily and then for some reason you don’t talk as often . . . the relationship changes. We know we need to invest ourselves and our time to keep the friendship strong and intimate.
Being distracted and moving away from God doesn’t usually happen quickly. Yes, there are times when we might have a few days when we don’t have daily time in the Word or to experience God’s presence in prayer and meditation. But then we get back on track and all is well.
But then there are times when bit-by-bit we allow other things to move in and steal the time and attention we would normally have with Him. I’m not talking about turning to sinful acts . . . or walking away from the faith. The distractions can be simple and enjoyable activities. But they are distractions, none the less.
Think of the word “distraction.” Dis means “apart or away.” And the “traction” part of the word means direction. So a distraction means “to draw in a different direction or away from the path being followed.”
Today’s world is clamoring with distractions! We have so many options. So many opportunities. So many bright and shiny objects to enjoy! And truthfully, we often allow these options to distract us and draw us away from God and in another direction.
I have been distracted with a jam-packed to-do list. I have been distracted with a busy travel schedule. I have been distracted by my flesh wanting to do something different than sit with God and His Word (not a pretty admission, but it is the truth).
So here comes the antidote . . . the solution . . . the corrective action. And it’s a central element in our faith. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are His disciples. And as His disciples, we have spiritual disciplines that we want to practice.
The same “dis” here still means “away or apart,” but this time it is joined with a part of language that means “to take hold of.” Disciples follow the way of the teacher and separate themselves to follow the master’s way. In our case, we follow our Master Jesus. We stay on track by developing and adhering to disciplines and routines. Following the routine keeps us on the path that He sets before us.
Our Creator knows that we need routines and disciplines. He tells us in His Word to live by them and then we will be blessed and have the life we want. Here is just one example: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Joshua 1:8
His instruction is clear . . . and then He gives us the choice as to whether we will follow His ways. “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” Deuteronomy 30:19.
In the same way the separation takes place slowly, the return to the path may require some time, also. Not a long time. But developing a routine or a discipline does not take place overnight. Instead, time and consistency are required. That’s the very definition of a routine: “an unvarying or habitual method of procedure developed over time.”
If you want to get back to that loving, powerful and joyful experience of feeling close to God, make a decision to develop a routine for your time with Him. And then practice it daily . . . consistently . . . and make it part of your spiritual practice as a disciple of Jesus Christ, your Master and Lord.
Be blessed as you continue to grow in the ways of the Kingdom.