Where is God? Why doesn’t He come to us? We are feeling dry and desire to be refreshed by Him, but doesn’t He care? We cry out, and yet it seems as if God doesn’t answer us. Why is that? Has He stopped loving us? Does He care no longer? Why has our fellowship with God ceased?
I don’t know what your particular reason might be, but I can find one reason that the Bible readily points to. It may not the only reason for the times of dryness in our lives, but it is the reason that we seem least ready to admit: Could it be that God’s absence in our immediate consciousness is a result of sin’s presence in our lives? Has there been some sin in my life that has hindered my fellowship and relationship with my Father in Heaven?
Sin breaks our relationship with God because God is Holy
We see this pattern of sin breaking our relationship with God all throughout Israel’s history. Sadly, it almost seems to be a recurring theme. Israel is blessed by God, they get content but they soon slip into complacency. Then, somewhere along the story, someone stumbles in sin and leads the entire nation astray. The whole county falls into sin and their relationship with God is broken. Each and every time, the pattern remains clear: Sin breaks our relationship with God. Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Why is this the case? The answer is amazingly simple.
“O God, Your ways are holy! What god is as great as our God?”
Psalm 77:13, God’s Word
God is holy. Sin causes us to be unholy. These two cannot mix. It is like light and darkness. Darkness cannot exist in the presence of light. As a matter of fact, darkness is really the absence of light. No matter how much He loves us, God cannot change the fact that He is holy. As such, when sin enters our lives, we automatically lose our ability to be around God’s presence. Looking at that light and darkness example again: Try lighting a candle in a dark room. The room cannot help but be brighter because of the candle’s light. Darkness just can’t exist in the presence of light.
Perhaps a more down to earth example is in order. Imagine that you are planning to invite a guest, or even a tenant, into your home. What to do you do? You try to make sure that your house is hospitable. You would try to clean it up: sweep the floors, change the bed sheets and make sure that the toilet smells lovely. If our houses weren’t in order, what would you think would happen?
Certainly, the tenant wouldn’t be able to stay long. Why should he? The house is dirty and uninhabitable. Likewise, the condition of our hearts may be similar. When there is sin, we make our hearts uninhabitable for God. Did you notice what I said? I said, WE make our hearts uninhabitable for God. Essentially, what we’ve done is put up a “God is not welcome” or “No-God” sign up in our hearts. That’s what sin does to our relationship with God. This is possibly why we are feeling dry and devoid of God’s presence. So how can we remedy this?
Repentance Releases Refreshing
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that He may send you the Christ, who has been appointed for you – even Jesus.”
Acts 3:19-20, New International Version
To restore our relationship with God, we need to remove what is hindering that relationship. We need to remove the sin that is present in our lives. However, that is only half the step. We cannot just stop at removing sin from our lives. We must also turn away from it. This is what repentance really means.
Repentance is not merely apologising for our sin. Repentance really means turning away from sin and turning towards God. It’s a full 180-degree turn. We cannot have one part without the other. Turning away from sin, but not turning to God will only leave us open to sin’s attack once more. Turning towards God without turning away from sin will still not address the barrier between God and us. Note the two steps required in repentance. Turn away from sin. Turn to God. Without either one, repentance is incomplete, and refreshment cannot come.
Repentance is not easy. But it can be done. In fact, it must be done. If spiritual dryness is a way for God to tell us that we are spiritually sick than we must take the prescribed medicine – no matter how bitter it may taste. Through Scripture and Israel’s history, God has shown us that the spiritual dryness that we are experiencing now may actually be a symptom of a deeper problem – sin in our lives. Further more, He has even prescribed a clear course of action as the remedy to this illness – repentance.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Psalm 139:23-24, New International Version
More likely than not, only you and God know what sins are present in your life now that is hindering your relationship with each other. Take some time to pause and seriously ask God to “search your heart and test you” to see if there is anything offensive in you.
If you find something that weighs against your conscience, the prodding of your heart or even the Bible, turn away from it. Renounce it. Take specific steps like choosing not to indulge in anything that might eventually lead you to the same place of sin. Stay far away from places, people or situations that might lead you into temptation.
Then, when you turn away from the sin that so easily entangles, turn to God and ask Him to “lead you to the way everlasting”. Look in God’s direction. Be in places where He is at – Christian fellowships and gatherings. Worship concerts. Whether in the pages of the Bible or on our knees in prayer, these simple steps can bring us into a position where we turn to God.
When we finally swallow our pride and take in the bitter pill of repentance, we will find God’s promised times of refreshing coming in Jesus.
This is one of the most difficult messages that I’ve had to share. Firstly, it is because I am acutely aware of the sin that is present in my life. No, this is not one of those ‘everybody’s a sinner’ kind of feeling. I am aware that I have fallen short in a very specific and hurtful way – the kind if people were to find out, they’d be shocked and I would be more than ashamed. Secondly, it’s difficult to talk to someone who is already ‘down’ about sin and repentance. I pray for grace to share this as Jesus would. I am only a fellow pilgrim on the same journey, discovering the same milestones along the way.
Copyright © April 12, 2002, Wong Giok Leigh. All Rights Reserved.