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FIRST-PERSON: What to do when God seems distant

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) -- She was sitting there contemplating what to say. She had so many thoughts running through her mind. Her feelings seemed to change with every thought. He'd been so part of her life that she couldn't imagine life without him but she also couldn't deny the spark was gone, everything had changed. Where was the passion that had been so pervasive in the beginning? Where was the excitement that each new day used to bring? She had to wonder: "Am I still in love with him?" "Is this worth it anymore?"

Our relationship with God is similar to a marriage or dating relationship. In the beginning you're on a spiritual high with spiritual endorphins shooting through your heart and mind, but after time the high sometimes goes away. That's when the questions begin: Do you love God? Does He love you? Do you want to keep being a Christ-follower? So what do you do when the sizzle has fizzled with God?


In marriages, people change and feelings of "like" and "love" sometimes change, too. Sometimes those changes end up hurting the relationship. So, to figure out how to get your spark back with God, you need to figure out who and what has changed. Ask yourself: Whose behavior has changed?

God always acts the same and has the exact character since the beginning of beginnings. (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8) His love for us never changes (Deuteronomy 7:9), never diminishes, never goes away (Psalm 37:28; Romans 8:37-39) It's the strongest, deepest, most unbelievable love you'll ever experience (John 13:34-35, Romans 5:8). So it can't be God who's changing in the relationship.

If your relationship feels different, more than likely it's because your behavior has changed. We're the ones whose love changes, whose hearts stray, who must continually recommit ourselves to the relationship. People have wavering emotions, continually changing personalities, behaviors, habits and hearts. That's why we must continually keep repenting of our straying hearts and go back to the God we first loved.


If you've lost that loving feeling, find out what habits, attitudes or behaviors have changed in your life. Have you stopped reading Scripture and praying? Have you been trying to control your own life? Have you given God's place in your heart to someone else?

All relationships go through highs and lows, even friendships, but you keep plugging through; you stay committed. Every marriage goes through stale or difficult times but you've got to stick it out. God is your anchor through the storms -- and riding out the storms is what makes your faith stronger. The "low" times in your relationship with God shouldn't make you doubt His goodness but should prove that no matter how you change, or how much you stray, God is always faithful to you! (Matthew 28:20) It should strengthen your faith, not sever it.


When you're in the beginning of any new relationship you want to spend all your time together and want to know everything about the other person. What were you like when you first fell in love with God? You read His Word constantly, consistently talked to Him, and got to know Him. Go back to the beginning. Set aside daily time to spend with Him, talk with Him, and find out more about His amazing qualities.


The best way to revive your relationship is to remember why you started loving God. You fell in love because Christ died on the cross so all your sins would be forgiven and you could have an eternal relationship with Him! (Romans 5:17, 6:4). Christ suffered an excruciating death because of His great love for you, so that through faith in Him you could be together. We all owe Him our lives, our love, our complete selves.

But isn't it amazing that the God of the universe loves you so much He gave you the opportunity, through Christ's death on the cross, for an eternal union with Him? He gave you new life (John 3:16-21), free from the chains of sin's darkness (Romans 6:9, 23). That should definitely make you swoon over Him again!

So, if you're feeling like God's been distant and things aren't like they used to be, look at what's changed since you last felt excitement for Him, and that will help you know what needs to change. For true believers, the love and excitement will come back again -- but it's up to you. If you spend time with God, ask Him to show you His love for you, and commit to Him. Then you'll begin to notice those "butterflies" coming back. You will get back the excitement in your relationship with God.


Diane Montgomery is a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a freelance writer who lives in Fort Worth, Texas. This column first appeared at

Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press

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