Ups and Downs :: John Lysaught

There is no doubt that we, as humans, have ups and downs in life, even in our relationship with our Father in Heaven. We get close to Him then far from Him like elastic being stretched and released. It isn’t God doing this but us. When we do this, it does not mean that we are necessarily falling away from God, but it can show us how distracted we’ve become or the areas of our faith that need some touch-ups on our part.

In our bipolar relationship with God, we can find ourselves feeling guilty in the faraway moments of our relationship. This is good because it shows us that we desire to be near to God. In those seasons when we are near to God in our hearts and souls, we savor those moments and don’t want to let them go, but we do. It is in our nature to rebel against God, and because of this we begin to drift away from Him until we face moments of trials and tribulations that urge us to seek Him and draw near again.

We need to strive to be near to God at all times and not just in struggles. God is not the way station for us to use only when we need Him. In fact, we need Him in the good seasons of our life as well as the rough ones. When we hold on to God only in the bad times, we begin to create a precedent in our lives to only go to Him when we need a trial resolved or guidance to get us out of some tribulation. Isn’t God more than a mechanic for our lives? Isn’t He more than a handyman? He is!

Look at the Psalms in the Bible. They don’t just address those times of seeking God in troubles, but they also give us examples of how to praise Him in moments of good and for what He does for us to prosper us in spirit. We would do well to emulate the Psalms to praise God when we have successes in our lives as well as seeking His strength and power to affect change in our lives when we face troubles.

But… we tend not to do this. We get so wrapped up in our lives and the trials we find ourselves in that we don’t praise Him when we should. Life is not all dismal occurrences day after day, but there are successes and joys found in each day that we can thank God for and praise His greatness in our lives.

How many prayers have you sent up to God and they were answered in some fashion, whether with the resolution you sought, or not, but you forgot or did not recognize that God was involved? It is as if we spam God with request after request, and then forget about God when things are resolved. Have you thanked Him? I have found that I don’t at times or don’t immediately attribute the resolutions or answers to God. I’m thankful, yes, that things worked out, but that is about as far as it goes. I ask God to help, and when He does, I forget to thank Him and praise Him a lot.

For me, there seems to be so many things I send to God that I forget what I prayed for and don’t recognize His power to change lives and situations as they materialize. It is almost an afterthought to see my prayers answered. I tend to pray and then not pay attention to seeing God in action. I’m guessing others do this too.

Recently, I’ve been practicing focused prayer, not just a never-ending list of requests. When I see God work in my focused prayers, whether immediate or enduring, I can see what He is doing and I praise Him and thank Him. I’ll give you an example.

I have two daughters (adults) who grew apart and fought a lot. They were not on speaking terms for months and avoided each other as best they could; and the scarce moments when they did speak, it was criticisms or hurtful punches with a word or two. After months of this, I began focused prayer each night for God to intervene and help mend their relationship. I made a conscious effort to be patient for God to work His power into their hearts. One day they started talking out of the blue. It wasn’t a lot, but it was a start; and within weeks they were doing great together and have not argued or criticized each other. I was observing them and just gave thanks to God with tears welling in my eyes. His power to affect change in people is awesome.

In the distant times, we need to strive to climb back up to a closer relationship with the Lord. He is never far, but is always near to us. It is us that close the door a bit or shut it completely on Him that leads to a distant feeling. We don’t have to do this though. We can, with effort, stay near to God.

God is with us all the time; and just because you may feel like you are distant doesn’t mean you are not of the faith. But we still need to examine ourselves to ensure we hold Christ in our hearts, to ensure we don’t become lax in our relationship with Him (Lamentations 3:40). How do we do this? We do as Matthew 6:33a (KJV) says: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.” This means leaving self out of the equation and letting God lead the steps.

Through constant examination of our relationship with God, we will do better at being close to Him at all times. Through seeking His Kingdom daily, we will be strengthened in our walk with Him; and by the constant renewing our minds (Romans 12:2), we will remind ourselves of God’s power and our status as His children.

As His children, we must remember that we will not be abandoned, nor forsaken (Hebrews 13:5). God is on our side, and He wants us to grow in Him and with Him. The proof is the sacrifice of His son (John 3:16) so we can have that connection with God, a personal relationship with Him to always be near to Him.

When we are near and not far from God, there is a serenity in our souls and hearts that keeps us wanting to continue to be in God’s light at all times. When we drift away from that closeness, we get desperate to want that closeness again. I think this is good, but the trouble is when we drift and don’t want that closeness with God anymore. This is evidence of the work of Satan.

Satan doesn’t want us to be close to God. He wants us far from Him, to an extent that we no longer seek God in our lives or trust God in our faith. Therefore, we must always be on guard. We must guard our hearts and minds from the tactics of Satan. Satan’s influence is strong in this world we must live in, but God is greater, much greater.

Society, as influenced by Satan, will do its best to drag us away from God so we won’t feel that closeness with Him. There are so many distractions and actions in our lives that Satan uses to tempt us to leave our closeness with God. Is He successful? At times, because we have fallen victim to this ploy as seen in our own lives in those moments and seasons when we drifted away from our closeness with God.  Complete success of Satan is seen in those who drift so far away from God that they don’t see Him in their lives anymore. Defeat of Satan is that, when we do drift, we have the inner strength to listen to the voice of God to turn back to Him in recognition of Satan’s ploy.

To close this up, I encourage all to stay near to God. We don’t need a bipolar relationship with Him. We don’t need to fall prey to Satan. We can, with effort, stay in and under God’s light through the good and the bad. Hold on to the light and turn from the darkness, and keep on guard at all times from the ploys of Satan. Through this, we can only strengthen and grow in our walk with God.