Why do I feel distant to God? I try to read my Bible and nothing is “clicking.” Why does the Bible not “speak” to me like others? Why is God so quiet? I should give up. I’m not a good Christian.
I used to wonder about these things. I would beat myself up about “not connecting.” Have you ever felt the same?
Maybe you know others who seem to talk about “experiencing” the Lord all the time, and you try and just can’t. You wonder what is wrong with you. What does it mean to “connect” to the Lord? Pretty frustrating, isn’t it? Well, today, I’m here to tell you experiencing the Lord may not be the same as those around you make it sound.
Last week, I shared 3 ways that have improved my Bible studying.
A Lie From The Seeker-Driven Movement
I remember a few years ago reading an article about someone struggling to read scripture. This person did not feel like they connected to the scripture. All this time, I have kept the post at the back of my mind. I know, in the past, I have struggled with the same mindset. I’m sure there are others who struggle, too.
While I struggled with this mindset about not connecting to the Lord and His word, there were times I believed I was experiencing the Lord. No, not tongues. Not sounding like an animal, or a fire tunnel, or falling back from the “Holy Spirit” … no, something just as deceiving, and I did not realize it.
As I shared in What Does It Mean To Ask, Seek, & Knock (Completely Edited & Updated From 2018) when I was under the Seeker-Driven Movement, I was under the impression I had to “connect” with the Lord properly to “hear” Him. The Seeker-Driven Movement, a bunch of false teachings that push feelings, experiences, and seeking knowledge from God outside of scripture. They are cloaked under the guise of scripture twisting.
Those desiring to get close to God easily get pulled in under a surface of teachings that seem Christian and true, and yet, very vague on exactly… how do we get close to God? If I “do” all these things…does that make me close to God? I used to think so, not realizing I was also falling in works-based theology. (Video Recommendation: What Is The Seeker Sensitive Movement? By Polite Leader, about 9 mins.)
I thought I had to have these experiences and feelings with the Lord that made me feel close to Him. There were times I felt like I did. The original post for Ask, Seek, and Knock I thought was one of those times. But I was deceived. I was drawing out feelings, experiences, and knowledge I thought was from God, when really, it was from my own mind. It may have been inspired by scripture, but it wasn’t completely inspired by scripture. (And one by one I realized the false teachers I listened to did the same. I learned from them, like Rick Warren and Joyce Meyer.) I was adding my own knowledge to scripture, and I thought it was okay because I thought it was from God. It wasn’t.
Why am I naming people? Because the damage the deception has done to me, making me so foolish and prideful, I do not want ANYONE to be under. A wolf is a wolf. I am not going to encourage you to pet a growling wolf with its mouth wide open. May our eyes be open and we repent in the name of Jesus.
Problems When We Believe We Need To Feel “Connected” To Scripture
There is scripture that absolutely connects to life application. I’m not talking about that “connection.” This post is focused on people seeking after a particular way of feeling connected to God through scripture and life experience, in a mystical way.
So, let’s talk about some problems with this mindset when we feel we have to “connect” to scripture, in order to read it.
- 1. Reading Scripture Is Not About Having An Experience – How many of you have read a historical article or book and had a spiritual experience with it? Or how many of you have read a letter? Did you have a spiritual experience with it? True, these examples aren’t the living word of God, but needless to say the Bible is a historical book, too. Reading through a list of bloodlines is not, necessarily, going to make us feel a high of emotions and feeling “connected” to God. But it is important to read through because it helps tells the story of the Gospel. It helps show us the connection of God’s will in everything.
- The Bible needs to be read in order to learn. Loving the Lord with all of our mind has a great impact on us spiritually so that we can love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, and strength, too. However, this does not mean we are going to “feel” a particular way all the time when we read. It’s not about that. We need to understand the Gospel, its importance, how to obey the Lord, and what is the will of God. Scripture provides us with the answers. Yes, what we learn can have a spiritual impact, but that is because of the Holy Spirit sanctifying us. John 16:08, the Holy Spirit convicts of sin, righteousness, and the judgment to come.
- When we read scripture to experience something, we are reading scripture for the wrong reason. – This often leads us to seeking after mysticism. In the past, I used to treat scripture like a magic 8 ball. I would randomly open scripture. Randomly set my eyes on a verse, and read myself/my problems into the text. I felt like, “Wow, I had this problem, and the Lord just spoke to me in this way.” Now, God can speak through His word because it is His word. No debating about that. However, we are not seeking the Lord properly, in this manner. We are seeking Him similarly to how the pagans seek spiritual guides and direction, in mystical ways. God does not need us to treat His word in a mystical way in order for us to hear Him properly.
- I did this a lot when I tried to interpret my dreams with scripture. No where in scripture does it tell us to do any of these actions. If we have a problem, we need to pray to the Lord, and absolutely, we should turn to scripture for guidance. And yes, there may be topics in which we look at proof-texts, a bunch of scriptures out of order that relate to a topic. But we need to read scripture properly, and that includes using the context of the verses, surrounding the proof-text verse, in the right order, not add any meanings to it by our feelings, experiences, symbols, or dreams, etc. If we are proof-texting, then we need to involve multiple verses surrounding the one we are looking at, to make sure we have grasped the correct context of each set of verses.
- Sometimes Reading Scripture Will Mean Nothing Seems To “Click” – Some books of the Bible can be difficult to read through. The Law books, the Chronicles, when I read multiple Psalms a day, that got tedious for me. But we need to keep reading.
- Less Is More – As I shared in my Bible Study post, what has helped me is reading less so that I can study more. Chewing on scripture is a good thing. We do not have to read the Bible in a set amount of time. What we need to be is consistent.
- Use The Repeat Button – If you are struggling reading through scripture, try using audio to read for you. (It will save you time on struggling through some of those names in the Old Testament.) If you go through a portion and nothing is retaining, reread it, or if using audio, repeat. Again, less portions can help. Reading the Bible is about the quality we take out of it, not quantity (and not how we feel about it).
- Reading The Bible Is About Retaining Not Experiencing – When I was under false teaching, I had a lot of experiences I thought were “with God.” But what I did not have was proper understanding of His word, though I was convinced I did, at the time. Knowing Bible scriptures and stories, while wonderful, does not mean we know scripture in proper context. So, while I knew quite a bit, I did not know scripture properly and in the order it was to be understood.
- Mediating & Memorizing – Not feeling connected? That’s okay! What we need is context, and memorizing and mediating help! No feelings or experiences required to do this 🙂 Remember, bite-sized pieces, give yourself something to chew on. Pick a verse and memorize. John 16:08 has been one for me, and here’s a cool story. I didn’t try to memorize this particular verse. As I read through the book of John, and later epistles in the New Testament, I kept seeing some of the same themes. So I would go back to make sure I had the right context. Little by little, I was memorizing other verses. Now, the verse number, that took a little more of memorizing. (Verse numbers are helpful, but they are not as important as the verse. Don’t worry, the original text did not even have verse references. Knowing verse numbers and chapters can be really helpful, though.)
- Christians mediating on scripture means breaking down the verse(s), understanding the context, asking who, what, when, where, why, and how. It is not related to silence, again, that drifts back to mysticism. Warning: There are Bible study meditations that are designed in a very mystic way, using music to make you vulnerable, relaxed, etc. Be careful. Not everything with the word “Christian” in front of it is Christian.
The pressure of not feeling connnected to God when I was reading scripture or when I would have a tough situation and feel alone is pretty much gone. There is no condemnation in Jesus Christ. I have been freed from the burden of feeling like I have to “connect” as an affirmation of my relationship all because of Jesus Christ. His truth has set me free in understanding that I cannot refine myself. I am not to do the job of the Holy Spirit. I do not have to have a mystical or special spiritual experience to be under the impression that I am His. (Romans 8:01, John 8:31-32)
I understand now that the heart is deceiving, it is a lie to say we are not sinners. The enemy will use thoughts and good feelings as deception. These tactics will not always be obvious to us. There were things I believed in 100 percent that I thought were true and from God. I had others encourage me in these “truths” both in life and in the blogging community, for years because they, too, believed the same things. But it was deception, my friends. Plain and simple. I do not want anyone to be deceived like I was. (Jeremiah 17:09, 1 John 1:10)
Feelings or no feelings, through Jesus alone, I am adopted by God. Jesus is the Lord God and He has shown His love for us that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. There truly is power in the name of Jesus and His word is where we learn. Scripture gives us every single piece of direction we will ever need. (Romans 5:08)
To understand more in-depth what I mean by Christ dying for our sins and why we need to seek forgiveness from sins please see: Why Did A Loving God Kill His Son? (Does God Hate?)
Monthly Scripture To Memorize/Meditate On – (ESV) Romans 5:08, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Community Prayer & Praise – January 2021