Yet, while it is true that we were, as A.W. Tozer asserts, “meant to see Him and live with Him and draw our life from His smile,” intimacy with God is not to be compared with a fast food drive-thru exchange. Knowing God is something to be contended for, and, if we’re honest, the most costly and difficult thing we can do with our lives.
Consider those who have gone before us. Thomas, who saw the risen Christ standing before him, doubted Jesus to His face. David, the singing warrior King, felt abandoned and alone. Paul, who almost single-handedly launched the local Church, described his pursuit of God as a constant fight.
And, in more recent days, the saintly Mother Teresa endured long stretches feeling distant from God, unsure of His presence in her life. Though she lived a life of constant devotion to God and to others, she spent many days shrouded in a mist of doubt that hid Him from view.
Mother Teresa doubted God? How can this be!?
While we have grown accustomed to the ancients—somehow viewing the biblical followers as less than human—the struggle of this tiny-framed sister, who spent her days caring for Calcutta’s dying, has sent many reeling. How can such a servant of God spend her days struggling to see His face? If someone like Mother Teresa wondered if God was there, where does that leave me?
Yet, to doubt and to grapple in the pursuit of intimacy with the Divine is simply to be human. It is possible to know and walk with God (which is, in essence, the heart of the Gospel), but those who have embarked on this lifelong endeavor will tell you about both rapturous moments when earth’s shimmering lights were eclipsed by a glimpse of His face and long stretches of arid days, dry seasons where His voice was faint and there was no sensing His touch. And they will recount the days they walked by faith, not certain where God was or what He was doing in their midst.
So if you’ve ever felt stale or distant in your relationship with God, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are defective. Rather, it is confirmation that you are earthly, struggling in frailty to connect with the Glorious One. And such passages don’t require you to stop trusting, believing or serving Him. Instead, it is in pressing through the desert days that we increase our capacity to treasure Him.
Consider Jesus, who Himself felt forsaken in the darkest hour of life, yet still managed to entrust His spirit into the care of a Father He knew well in brighter times. He is the author of the most arduous pursuit of all, stripping down and exiting Heaven in an effort to make right what forever blocked our way to God. Jesus is the bearer of the invitation to know God. He is the one who holds the door…who is the door. He is the proof of love and the measure of what the Maker was willing to do to track down the runaways and engulf them in a shower of unconditional love and grace. He is the tireless one, the seeking one, the relentless one, the patient one who will not let us go. And though His is the most extravagant of gestures, His is the love that remains unrequited in so many.
Jesus is the guarantee that the embrace of Heaven is a costly thing, yet something we can’t live without. And His footprints assure us that a price will be paid by all who taste and see that He is good and, though floored by His majesty, call God friend. There is no magic pathway, just a door standing open and an uphill climb. Earthly stuff will weigh us down. Sin will cloud the view. Some days will knock us back. Others will break our spirit and make us want to quit. Some days we will quit. But every step of the way will be inspired by the One who came down the steps to birth incarnation in our hearts and set our feet toward home…no matter what the cost.
— A passionate communicator and author, Louie Giglio is the founder of Passion Conferences, a collegiate movement calling people around the world to lives that spread God’s fame. Giglio also heads sixsteps records, a label partner with EMI CMG, and home to artist-worshipers Chris Tomlin, David Crowder*Band, Matt Redman and Charlie Hall.