As we look forward to retreat, many of us are excited to get away from our busy routine and enjoy the weekend.  We may look forward to getting our annual spiritual boost.  One of the things I have been praying for each and every one of you is that you will begin now, to let others into your circle and be transparent with each other, building true and valuable friendships.  Let others into your pain and hurt and allow them to speak into your life.  God uses each of us to be his hands and feet and comforters.  He designed us for community.  We are stronger together. 

A few years ago I wrote this entry in my journal.  I am sharing it with you today, because I know I am not alone.  I know we all face times where we feel far from God.  As we let our barriers down, we allow others to minister to us and we are strengthened because the energy that it takes to pretend like we have it all together is draining.  Let’s create a community of love and support.   

“Nothing can separate us from God’s love.  This is a powerful statement.  I believe it to be true. However, I have experienced what I thought was separation and a very cold heart towards God.

I remember sitting in church last year crying during worship, not knowing what was going on inside of me.  I felt utterly empty.  I felt drained both physically and emotionally and numb spiritually.  I was praying and asking God why could I not feel his presence.  I remember being mad at God because it hurt so bad.  Not knowing if I would ever have joy in my life again.  Not knowing if I would ever truly live again.  The pain inside of me was so great that I had nowhere to store it.  It became a part of me.  As I was praying, this verse came to mind, one I had memorized many, many years ago.


Romans 8:38-39
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.  Neither death, not life, neither angles nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”    

I prayed and asked God if this were true, why did I feel so separated from him now, when I needed him most?

This is what I felt God saying to me.  Nothing can separate you from me, but you can separate yourself from me.  You can choose to separate yourself from my presence.  I wrote down my prayer:

Lord, you are GOOD:  My focus needs to be fixed on you, not me, not my circumstances. 

Then Psalm 103:1-8 came to mind.
“Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his Holy name.  Let all that I am praise the Lord.  May I never forget the good things he does for me.  He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.  He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.  He fills my life with good things.  My youth is renewed like the eagles!  The Lord gives righteousness and justice to all who are treated unfairly.  He revealed his character to Moses and his deeds to the people of Israel.  The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.”

I chose then to give my hurts and heart to God and trust him to take care of me.  I would not allow myself to be separated from him any longer. When I have these feelings of loneliness and distance from God, I now know where they are coming from and I turn to him.