Is It Okay if I Don’t ‘Feel’ God?

Even this morning, the pastor preached a sermon on the importance of good theology. He said, “Years ago, I only knew that much about God and therefore, I could only worship that much of Him. But over years of study, my knowledge of Him has grown to this much and I can now worship this much more of Him!” Just as in a dating relationship, the more you learn about the other person, the more you are able to fully love and experience them as they are. You wouldn’t want to remain ignorant and superficial in a marriage, but why would you in your relationship with Christ?

So what I told the kid at the gym was just that: Let your heart follow your head. You’re in a good place, and the emotion will come when the time is right. Don’t force it and don’t think you’re broken if you don’t feel the way everyone else does. In fact, I would argue that there is danger in being led spiritually by your emotions.

Of course, a good balance is necessary, but like I said in the Dumbing Down article, I see most Americans swinging far toward emotion and experience more than knowledge and truth. The whole notion of having a magnificent emotional rollercoaster of a worship service is very new to the Christian faith, emerging in the past couple hundred years. Does that mean that for the first 1,700 years of her existence, the church was doing it wrong? Or maybe it’s we who are a little off-track.

Do you not feel God? You’re not alone. Many heroes of the faith felt very distant from God most of their lives, including the author of most of the Psalms, King David. He wrote, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Words which would be repeated by Jesus as He withered on the cross.

The best advice I can give is to keep learning about God. Keep reading the Word and filling your mind with Him. The act of these disciplines will eventually reorient your desires toward Him, and even though they are not glamorous or even fun, your emotions will follow.

“The ruts of routine become the grooves of grace.”

The things you fill your head with will eventually trickle down into your heart; your emotions will be affected by what you put in your mind. There’s no way they can’t be! So don’t try to rush it. I would argue that wisdom doesn’t attempt to conjure up a false emotional experience, but simply remains faithful and lets the emotion come when the time is right.

I have reached a place now where I use words like ‘kerygma’ and ‘ontology’ and get a little misty-eyed. I sit in theology classes and feel stones rise up in my throat because I’m engaging with the material at a much deeper place than I could have seven years ago.

Most of you are the opposite. I recognize that I’m an outlier here. Different views of our beautiful God will choke you up and tug on your heart, but one thing is true across the board: You won’t reach these deep places with Him if you’re not filling your mind with His words and orienting your life toward Him.

It will come in time.

So may we be people who pursue God, not an emotional high. May we be people who see God working in all areas of our lives, especially many of the mundane and unglamorous nooks. May we be comforted by knowing that He is not simply an emotion to be conjured up at will, but He is a person; a Father who wants to walk the journey of our lives with us. And that means that there will be a lot of long stretches of road without emotion or hype, just many, many trudging footsteps.

The original article appeared here.

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Ethan Renoe
Ethan is a speaker, writer, and photographer currently living in Los Angeles. He has lived on 6 continents, gone to 6 schools, had 28 jobs, and done 4 one-armed pull-ups. He recently graduated from Moody Bible Institute. Follow him at ethanrenoe.com.