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The Squeaky Swingset

Have you ever felt distanced from the Lord?

Has there ever been a time when you believed that you’d lost the ability to hear His voice?

It feels like something in your relationship with Him has shifted.  Quiet times are hard.  His voice doesn’t sound as clear as it once did.  You have to strain to hear anything from Him.  Even when you do, you question whether it was actually Him, or if it was merely something born of your own thoughts.

Or maybe you feel that you’ve never heard the voice of the Lord.  You truly don’t believe He’s ever spoken to you.

1928e537You know that something feels off.  And the only logical explanation is that it’s your fault. The Lord is unhappy with you because of this secret sin, and so He’s stopped speaking to you altogether.  It would be totally unacceptable to try and come into the presence of the Lord again before you completely clean up the mess that you’ve become.  But that’s going to take a while, because the Lord is making you do some time for this distance you’ve allowed to creep in between the two of you, so He’s not lending any kind of a helping hand when it comes to pin-pointing the problem area.  That would involve communication between the two of you, and you know He’s temporarily cut all lines.

This mindset and this trail of thinking is one that has become all-too-familiar to me.  Despite the fact that it does not, in any way-shape-or-form, align with what I know to be true about the nature and the character of my God, I still find myself caught in this kind of thought cycle more often than I would like to admit.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of viewing the Lord through a human perspective.  We often forget that we are made in the image of God, and instead, we try to mold God into our flawed, fallen image.  We expect to see our own behaviors, or the responses and reactions we experience from other people, from the One who created us.  It doesn’t take much for us to lose sight of the fact that the God we serve is the only completely perfect, wholly just, and unconditionally loving Being in this entire universe.

It’s hard not to operate in our personal relationship with the Lord out of the experiences we’ve had in our interactions with our peers.

Experience would show that oftentimes, when we upset or offend a friend or a family member, they respond by ignoring us.  By creating distance in the relationship.  By being angry and aloof.  Because of this, when we believe that we’ve upset or offended the Lord, we expect Him to respond to us in the same way our friends and family do: with a stifling of communication.

This idea stems from a distorted belief of who God is, and of His heart for us.

A healthy sense of conviction for an area of sin in our lives or a pattern of poor behavior can easily spiral out of control, becoming a sense of overwhelming guilt and condemnation for every mistake you’ve ever made and any bad habit you haven’t quite shaken.  When we don’t immediately respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit about a change that needs to happen in our lives by repenting and surrendering it to the Lord, we begin to blame ourselves for all of our flaws and imperfections, and we begin to project that blame and our feelings of shame onto the Lord.  We start believing that this must be how He feels about us, too.

Psalm 103:8-12 says:

“The LORD is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.  He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever.  He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.  For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.  He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.”

Do you know what that means?  It means that even when we do have some messes in our lives that need to be cleaned up, and even when we are living in sin and know that it’s breaking the Lord’s heart, He will still NEVER condemn us or see us put to shame (Romans 10:11), because His love for us is unfailing, and His grace is beyond our understanding.

the freely given and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.

The Lord does not discipline us for our sins by withholding His voice from us; by cutting all lines of communication and forcing us to make it on our own for a while.  He tells us in John 15:5 that apart from Him, we can do nothing.  Because our God is the compassionate, merciful, loving God from Psalm 103, we can know that He will never force us to survive on our own, apart from Him.  He is always with us, and constantly speaking to us.

Well,” you might be thinking, “if God is constantly speaking, why haven’t I heard Him?

The presence of sin in our lives or the existence of an area we need to do some work in does not mean that God stops speaking to us.  What it does mean is that we are dealing with some pretty serious distractions.

Have you ever tried having a conversation near a really squeaky swingset?  The conversation you’re having could be the most rivetingphoto-1436915947297-3a94186c8133 conversation you’ve ever taken part in, or the person you’re talking with could be the most beautiful and captivating person you’ve ever laid eyes on.  But no matter how focused on what’s being said you might be, or how badly you want to follow along with every word, the obnoxious squeak of the swingset is going to pull your attention, even if it’s only momentary.  The longer you stand there, the more prominent the noise is going to become as the person swinging starts climbing higher and higher.  Then, as more people hop onto the swingset and begin joining in the fun, the irritating squeak starts to become more like a deafening scream.  If you’re like me, then once you allow your ear to be drawn by the distracting background noise for more than a millisecond, it starts to become the only thing you can hear or focus on.  At that point, I will inevitably begin to lose a few words here and there in my conversation, or unintentionally end up missing the entire thing.

When we have sin in our lives, it’s a lot like that squeaky swingset.  It’s a distraction that, no matter how much we try to fight it, inevitably takes our focus off of the Lord and interferes with our communication with Him.  It breaks up the signal when the Lord is trying to contact us.  It has nothing to do with how often the Lord is wanting to say something (because, as we’ve already determined, He is always wanting to speak with us.  Just as we always want to be texting and talking with that special someone, no matter the time of day or night!).  It has everything to do with how clear our reception is.

So how do we get back in touch with the Lord?  Well, we move away from the swingset.  We get rid of the distractions.  We repent of our sins as the Lord convicts us of them, and we work with Him to clean up our messes without falling into shame and self-condemnation.  It’s not about how far you may feel from the Lord.  It’s about whether or not your feet are pointed back toward Him.

13263886_10209609910674445_1670769772243863358_nWhether it’s Star Wars, classic rock, or coffee, Rileigh’s an unabashed nerd. So with her local roots, she’s your gal for recommendations on the best cafés in Louisville. Rileigh traveled to England for DTS and to Kona, HI to hone her coffee skills (snobbery?) but she’s settled down to serve with YWAM right here in her hometown, and we’re so glad she did! She’s full of good stories and keen insight, and she’s deeply committed to those she loves, whether her friends and family or the Nicaraguan kids she’s grown to adore. Rileigh brings artistic skill, a passion for quality, and a willingness to work hard to YWAM Louisville’s social media presence – and if rumors are correct, she funnels that drivenness into some pretty serious Guitar Hero sessions, too.

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