There are times when my passion for Jesus and His purpose for my life burns brightly. I wake up in the mornings with a desire to get on with the day, to discover all that God has planned for me, and to walk with Christ through every challenge. His Presence is almost tangible. It is as if He is right there with me – which, of course, He is – but I “feel” it. Those are good days. My awareness of His presence, power and purpose is so very real.
There are other days though – days where I wake up dreading getting out of bed. It is not that I doubt His presence or promises; I just don’t “feel” them. I still pray. I still read God’s Word. I still meditate on His truth. It’s just different.
On those days I seek to discover if there is some hidden sin, some unconfessed transgression that I have tucked away. If there is, I confess it and receive His unbridled grace. I know I’m forgiven. I know I’m His. And yet I still don’t “feel” it.
Perhaps a pastor shouldn’t feel this way. Perhaps if he does feel this way from time to time, he should keep it to himself so as to maintain that mystic aura of perfection. After all, who wants a pastor who isn’t perfect? To do so, however, would be disingenuous. In truth, I think it is harmful to a congregation to carry on with a pretense of perfection when what they desperately need from their pastor is the assurance that following Jesus is worth the struggle.
I, like you, have those days. I wander through my spiritual deserts. My prayer life can sometimes be as dry as the Sahara. I may read a portion of Scripture and find that my mind has wandered off, and I have no idea what I just read. There are times I feel alone, powerless, and drained of hope. I admit that with no shame. I am, like you, a member of the human race. God remembers that we are dust; I just forget sometimes.
My hope is not in my performance but in Christ. I know that my flesh is weak. I can identify with the Apostle Paul who wrote: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
Delighting in my weaknesses – what a novel concept. Instead of pretending I am strong and that I can manage everything that comes my way, I am to admit that I am weak then look to Christ to be my strength. When I feel alone, I am not to hide from that feeling but admit it to God. He knows anyway. I can trust Him even when I cannot feel Him. My faith is not in my feelings but in God. When I feel alone and distant from God, I admit it and acknowledge what I know to be true – that He will never leave me or forsake me no matter how it feels.
If your spiritual journey is based on what you feel, then you will find it resembles a very scary rollercoaster ride. If your spiritual journey is rooted in your faith in a God who is trustworthy, loving, and faithful, then you will know that the Good Shepherd is with you whether it is in the green pastures or in the valley of deepest shadows.