Barriers to Intimacy with God
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest.” (Psalm 22:1-2, NRSV)
The words of Psalm 22:1 are most remembered as the words Jesus uttered from the cross just moments before his death. Some have questioned whether Jesus declared that he had been abandoned by God; however, that question ignores the whole context of Psalm 22. The entirety of the Psalm states that although there are times when we “feel” as if God has abandoned us, we “know” that God has been a part of our lives from the very beginning, Through that knowledge, Jesus kept believing that God was with him, no matter what, so he could continue to trust God even as he was dying on the cross.
There are times when we all experience feeling distant and isolated from God. If we nurture those feelings of distance and isolation, it is easy for us to lose faith. Feelings can mislead us because they aren’t based in rationality or even consistency. We may experience the exact same circumstances several times with a different emotional response each time. That’s why it is essential to process our feelings carefully and to test them against what we know to be true.
This week I’ll be talking about some of the barriers we face in developing an intimate relationship with God. I’ll be talking about feelings like guilt and shame that can block our experience of God’s grace working in our lives. I’ll also talk about how both physical and emotional pain creates a barrier to intimacy. Some of the most significant obstacles to intimacy with God are the misconceptions we have about God that blind us to God’s goodness and love. I won’t be stopping with just the barriers—I’ll offer some ideas on bridges we can build to carry us over the obstacles to experiencing intimacy with God.
I hope to see you on Sunday as we confirm some of our young people into the membership of the church. I promise you it’s going to be a special day you won’t want to miss!
P.S. Last Sunday was a glorious day as we kicked off both our Fall Children’s and Youth Ministries. Thanks to our Children’s workers who planned and implemented the pool party at Forest Hills pool and to our Youth workers who planned and hosted the reception for Mak, our new Youth Director, and the evening get-together. God is up to something special at First United Methodist Church, and we’re grateful for all those who are partnering with God to make good things happen!