I love a good “spiritual high”, although I really hate that term. I first experienced something like this as a teenager. I would go on these youth retreats or mission trips and really feel something happening in and to me. I would leave all jacked up on Jesus. Shortly after my return, those feelings would fade and I remember feeling inadequate or as if my relationship with Jesus was gone until the next dose of the Spirit was found at the next big event. This pattern defined my relationship with God for a very long time and I didn’t know what to do with it. I felt “un-Christian” at times. If I wasn’t “feeling” it, I assumed it wasn’t real.
This is not very deep and profound, but it’s on my heart today so I thought I would share. So, I’m sitting here today preparing a sermon for this Sunday. You would think I would be “feeling” it, but you know what? I’m not feeling it. I haven’t felt it for quite awhile. I’ve been struggling through what that means. Am I still a Christian? Have I done something wrong? Has God left me? For the better part of my life, I didn’t know what to do with these questions or these feelings (or lack thereof). Honestly, I still don’t fully know what to do with all of this, but I’m learning.
I notice when the feeling is gone, my prayer life struggles tremendously. It’s hard to pray when I don’t have a huge sense of God’s presence in my life. And when I don’t pray, the situation just seems to get worse. So in these moments, I’m learning to go to things that I know, even if I don’t feel. I know who God is. I know his character. I’ve read his story; I know what he’s done, what he’s doing, and what he will do. So in the midst of feeling a little distant from God, I know where he stands in all of this. I know he hasn’t left. I know he is still working. I know he keeps his promises. That’s why I also find some comfort in ancient prayers that the church has prayed throughout its history, particularly the Lord’s Prayer.
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.
So, even if I’m not feeling it today, or tomorrow, or the next…or however long it may take, I will keep praying that prayer. No spiritual high is needed to pray “Thy kingdom come”, for it is in the fullness of God’s kingdom that his presence is fully realized. I may not feel God’s presence constantly, but I will keep going back to praying for his kingdom and letting him use me to help bring it about. I know I want his kingdom to come. I know I see it happening around me. And the time will come again when I “feel” it, and then it will fade away…again. In these moments, I will rest in what I know about God.