One day, life is as good as it could ever be. Endorphins are running free in your body as you smell fresh air and see sunshine everywhere you look.
The next day, life is awful. You hurt, the air is stale, and all is gloomy.
Whether right or wrong, the feelings you have at any given moment can affect your thinking, relationships, and (unfortunately) your walk with God. So feelings aren't just funny -- they're powerful.
Before feelings come about and affect our thinking, relationships, and walk with God, they rely on those same things for their existence. Our feelings are easily manipulated by the way we interpret a given situation (thinking). They can be really great or just downright bad based on an interaction with another person (relationships). They can also be elevated or brought low by the status of our individual walks with God.
So perhaps you feel as though you've hit a brick wall in your relationship with Jesus. Maybe you don't feel like you're close to Him, or as close as you used to be. Here is the biggest reason why people feel that way.
Man-made commandments limit your ability to serve and know God.
Did you know that this life is for service to God? Like, all of it. Every area of your life is for your Creator.
Because of that, God will do what He wishes with our lives. He'll call us to do extraordinary and fearful things in order that He would receive more and more glory. That is, if we're on board.
When God gets minimized in our lives and we reject the notion that all that we have belongs to Him, we start thinking that there are certain areas that He cares about more than others. Within those areas, we will try to do our best so that we can make Him the most happy.
So we make rules. And we follow and enforce those rules as strictly as possible.
And we don't feel close to God.
This is a clear sign of wrong thinking. When an idea is pursued and, in so doing, proven false, we must submit to the results. Creating rules and following them closely won't get us close to God. That thinking must stop.
People (including Christians) often don't feel as though they're near to God because they have not given Him permission to rule every part of their being. Instead of "Life is for God," the thinking is, "Church is for God; Work is for my boss; My stuff is for me."
Nothing could be further from the truth.
As the Westminster Shorter Catechism states, "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." That glorification and enjoyment doesn't start in heaven -- it starts now.
About a year ago, John Piper and Tim Keller were in the same place at the same time (I'm thinking that happens often) and they sat down to record a conversation about sanctification in a believer's life. Start at about the five-minute mark in the video below and watch for three minutes.
The story that Keller shares about the woman coming to an understanding of grace over works is astounding. "If I'm really saved by grace because of what Jesus has done, there's no limit to what He could ask of me. And my obedience would have to be unconditional," he recounted.
If you don't feel close to God, you should ask yourself if you've given your life to Him and allowed His reign over every part of your life. Is your life radically abandoned to Jesus or are you playing it safe, obeying the rules you've made?
I hope this has spurred your thinking and you dig in deeper to the concept of giving all of your life to God. He owns you and all that you have and do is for Him.