Is anybody out there?
Sometimes I feel this way – like I say "Hello" and all I hear are crickets answering me…
Seems to me like Blog Land has been kinda quiet lately.
Which leads me to wonder – is blogging dead?
If you google this question, you'll find various opinions on the matter. But most people agree that its *heyday* has come and gone, that its peak popularity is in the past.
I certainly know that many people I became acquainted with when I first started blogging have long since left.
I get it.
It's hard to keep up with it.
Inevitably, if you blog long enough, you'll face either writer's block or burnout, or both. And life happens. Other things take priority. I know that there have been a few times when I seriously considered discontinuing my blog.
I felt like my words were dry, my inspiration was lagging, life got complicated.
But somehow I felt like God wanted me to stay, and He kept giving me one more idea at a time.
So I'm still here.
But I firmly believe that God is the only one who can tell us whether we need to stay, or that it's time to leave.
And we should heed His voice.
It's just that I miss some of my old blogging friends.
Losing contact is a hard thing.
Sometimes it's nobody's fault, it just happens. People move out of the area (like I did), or life gets busier, or we add other people to our lives.
There are times when I feel like my voice echoes back to me when I cry out…
"Is anybody out there?"
It’s hard enough to feel this way with people, but sometimes I feel this way with God.
Like He's moved somewhere and neglected to give me His forwarding address.
Are You out there, God?
I have often wondered to myself – why is it that sometimes when we need God the most, He seems silent or hidden?
I have heard this referred to as the north face of God.
(Though I have not read this book yet, I find that it's highly recommended: "The North Face of God" by Ken Gire. Also great, a book that I have read, "Disappointment with God" by Philip Yancey)
What does this mean?
The north face of a mountain in the northern hemisphere is generally the coldest, iciest and most formidable route to climb.
I like the word picture of our faith journey being like a long trek up a steep mountain. There are so many apt parallels that can be drawn. But perhaps my favorite of all, is the treacherous ascent to the summit.
Climbers on Mt. Everest have a name for it – the Death Zone.
"At the higher regions of Mount Everest, climbers seeking the summit typically spend substantial time within the death zone (altitudes higher than 26,000 ft), and face significant challenges to survival. Temperatures can dip to very low levels, resulting in frostbite of any body part exposed to the air. Since temperatures are so low, snow is well-frozen in certain areas and death or injury by slipping and falling can occur. High winds at these altitudes on Everest are also a potential threat to climbers.
Another significant threat to climbers is low atmospheric pressure. The atmospheric pressure at the top of Everest is about a third of sea level…resulting in the availability of only about a third as much oxygen to breathe. Debilitating effects of the death zone are so great that it takes most climbers up to 12 hours to walk the distance of 1.07 mi from South Col to the summit." (Wikipedia)
Yes, sometimes the walk of faith is dangerous – fraught with trials and temptations.
And sometimes it can be a lonely walk.
Because sometimes, when we are in the midst of adversity, this is exactly when God seems absent.
Why is that?
I went on a search for answers, and found many interesting verses about the seeming "hiddenness" of God.
And many of these verses speak about times when God tests our faith (I've included them in my Scriptures at the end of this post).
At first, quite honestly, these verses kinda riled me up.
My reaction was like, "C'mon, God. I'm in the midst of difficulty and You choose this time to feel far away? Not fair…"
And then I started to think about His promise to never leave me nor forsake me.
Is that what He's doing – leaving me?
But then, as I pondered this more, I began to realize that there is a big difference between God's promise and my perception of it.
Just because God "feels" far away doesn't mean that He is.
And the sense of His absence is actually a way for God and I to draw closer to one another, and a way for my faith to grow stronger.
Let me put it this way.
When my sons were little I hovered over them like a crazed helicopter pilot. Not wanting them to get hurt or scared or sick, I was right by them all the time.
"Whoop, whoop!" (Rotor blade sound effects...)
But as they grew older, I realized that it was important for them to launch out into life.
My toddlers ventured farther away from me.
My preteens moved even more.
My teenagers traveled into the far reaches of independence – testing the boundaries, learning their own.
And now, my sons have developed into mature adults.
Strong in their values, their decision-making, and their wisdom.
Did I ever abandon them?
Of course not!
In much the same way, God works for our spiritual maturity.
He tests us along the way, allowing us to build our faith stronger in times of trouble.
And sometimes that means that He will feel far away.
I am consoled knowing that I am not alone in these feelings.
David felt them:
"Why are you so far away when I groan for help? Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief…Do not stay so far from me, for trouble is near, and no one else can help me." (Psalm 22:1-2, 11, NLT)
And Jesus quotes David's words from the cross:
"'My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?'" (Psalm 22:1, NLT)
No, we are not alone in feeling alone.
The north face of God.
The chilly silence.
The icy hiddenness.
The formidable sense that we are all alone.
Is anybody out there?
Are You out there, God?
Ponder this –
Those mountain climbers who dare to ascend the north face of Mt. Everest rely on one thing more than anything to make it to the summit…
The very stuff that keeps them alive.
"…he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being." (Acts 17:27-28, KJV)
"For the life of every living thing is in his hand, and the breath of every human being." (Job 12:10, NLT)
Yes, though my sense of His presence can be faulty at times, though He may seem distant for a time of testing, the Truth remains the same:
He is with me.
Every step of the way.
So I keep climbing…
Have you ever felt like God was far away?
He's as close as my heartbeat,
As near as a sigh,
A part of each breath,
He is ever nigh.
So where is God hidden?
He's here, in my heart,
Directing my pathways
As He has from the start.
Where is God hidden?
He's not! Don't you see?
The Most High of the Universe
Dwells within me.
(© Sharon Kirby, October 4, 2000)
"However, when ambassadors arrived from Babylon to ask about the remarkable events that had taken place in the land, God withdrew from Hezekiah in order to test him and to see what was really in his heart."
(2 Chronicles 32:31, NLT)
"Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands." (Deuteronomy 8:2, NIV)
"Then the LORD said to Moses, 'I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.'"
(Exodus 16:4, NIV)
"The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man." (Psalm 11:4, ESV)
"'I will refine them as silver is refined and test them as gold is tested.'" (Zechariah 13:9, Holman CSB)
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my…thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life." (Psalm 139:23-24, NLT)
"I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered. Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness."
(Psalm 26:1-3, NIV)
"But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold." (Job 23:10, NLT)
"For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried."
(Psalm 66:10, ESV)
"Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith." (2 Corinthians 13:5, NLT)
"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing."
(James 1:2-4, NLT)
"So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world." (1 Peter 1:6-7, NLT)
"God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." (James 1:12, NLT)
"Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you." (James 4:8, ESV)
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