Isn't it frustrating when you're crying out to God, desperate to feel something—anything—but you just feel the void of separation? Do not lose hope and don't give up. Instead, maybe accept it is beyond your control.
Trying to develop my own personal relationship with God was something I struggled with for a long time. I would look around my church during worship seeing so many feeling God's presence—or something. I wasn't quite sure what they had; but they had something with Him I didn't.
I wanted to feel the love of Jesus, to not just believe in His existence. So from then on, every Sunday I would try my best to make Him hear me. But He never did; at least, I didn't think He did. I believe I would even raise my hand to re-accept Him into my life whenever the pastor gave the opportunity. Nothing worked.
Then one day, at the church Women's Camp when I was 14, I reached my last straw. I stood there in worship one night with outstretched arms and told Him 'You know what God? I can't do it anymore. I can't keep reaching out like this. This is it and if You don't catch me now, then so be it.' I wouldn't give up on God entirely, but I decided to stop fighting and settle with believing.
Worship was drawing to a close and I was deflated. Then our worship leader read out a verse and everything came crashing down like a waterfall. I felt His presence flow over and through me and I learnt His love and power. He embraced me as I wept. I experienced the presence of Jesus and His love more deeply than I could ever imagine.
Of course my life hasn't been perfect since then, there have been plenty of rough patches in our relationship, but since then I know He hasn't left me. No matter what I'm going through in life at any moment, thinking back floods me with raw emotion and draws me close to Him.
It's out of our control
Now in hindsight, I can see what I was doing wrong. It wasn't that I wasn't good enough, or that I needed some special words spoken over my life to tender me up—to this day I still have no idea what the verse even was. My difficulties came as a result of me trying too hard. I tried creating our relationship based on my own efforts; I thought I had to make it happen. I needed to surrender to God, to invite Him in and know nothing was achievable by my own efforts.
It is so easy to unconsciously slip into the mindset of trying to do everything ourselves. We try by our own means to reach God, to live a life like Jesus did, to spend our days swathed in the Holy Spirit. We forget it is God who acts; all we can do is invite Him.
We are never forsaken
God never leaves us, He is there, watching and waiting for us to surrender our control. If He had revealed to me His presence as soon as I had asked for it, I would never have truly appreciated Him, nor fully respected the idea of giving Him control.
Jesus died for us—unconditional love at its finest. It is not that He enjoys seeing us suffer or that He wants us to prove how much we want Him, I think it's all about giving Him the credit and placement He deserves over our life.
It's worth remembering Peter as we struggle to reach God. Sinking in the sea, Peter didn't stop to re-evaluate his life choices; he didn't grab onto Jesus and save himself. He just knew he needed help and Jesus was the only one who could save him. And immediately, Jesus reached out and grabbed him. He will never let us drown. We need to realise He is the only one who can save us.
Sabrina is a second year student at the University of Canterbury, where she is doing a Bachelor of Arts in English and History. With a passion for youth, art, reading and writing, she hopes to carry on to become an English teacher.
Sabrina Meyer'sprevious articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/sabrina-meyer.html