Seeking God when He Seems Far Away

We've all had those mountain-top experiences. But what about when God seems to be far from us? How do we seek Him in those times? Click here to find out!

I loved going to youth conferences in high school. The bus trip, hanging out with friends, staying up late, great worship, amazing speakers. I would leave the youth conference so on fire for God, eager to love Him unconditionally and serve Him every day.

But inevitably, within the week, the spiritual “high” I was on would fade, and I would come down from the mountain to the plateau of everyday life. I was left wondering where my eagerness went, and if I was a bad Christian for being less interested in God.

The reality is that the Christian life isn’t supposed to be fuelled by these mountaintop experiences. There are lots of times of our lives during which God seems far away. The question is, what do we do when He seems to be far from us?

Spiritual check-up.

Whenever I realize that I’ve been drifting from God, I stop and take a look at my life lately. Have I been spending time in the Word? Have I been praying regularly? Am I taking time to worship and seek the Lord? If I’m not making an effort on my part, my relationship with God won’t grow. Great friendships happen when both people put an effort in; it’s the same with God. Yes, He loves us unconditionally, but my relationship with Him won’t mature if I’m not putting any priority on it.

Re-prioritize spiritual disciplines.

There have been so many times where I’ve felt distant from God, only to realize that I haven’t been in the Word for two weeks. Not spending time with God has an impact on our lives! When I make Jesus a priority again, He is able to reveal Himself to me and I’m able to grow closer to Him.

Spend time in prayer.

There have been times when I’ve found myself far from God because I’ve actually been walking away from Him. There are so many things that get between us + God—new relationships, school/work stress, pride, selfish desires, wrong choices. I have often wondered why I’m far from God only to realize that I’ve been making decisions based on my own wants, rather than His will from my life.

Ask God to show you areas in your life that you need to give back to Him. Before I can seek after the Lord, I need to come to Him with these things and confess them. When we make ourselves right with God (that is, accepting Jesus’ forgiveness and intervention for us before God), we are free to seek Him and grow in our relationship with Him.

Seek, and you will find.

James 4:8 says this:

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you…

God does not withhold from us. When we pursue Him, He awaits us with open arms. He is waiting for us to return to Him, and He will meet us where we are. Next time you’re feeling far from the Lord, remember that He has not left. He loves His children and has promised us that He will never leave nor forsake us.

Join the conversation! How do you seek God when you feel far from Him?

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Bible Study Tools: My Top 5 Essentials for Quiet Time

Are you overwhelmed by the number of Bible study resources available, or simply looking for a good place to start digging into God's Word? On the blog, I share my top 5 favourite Bible study tools! You can click here to read more!

Whether you’re a brand-new Christian or you’ve been a Christian for several years, Bible study is so important. But it’s so easy to get overwhelmed with the number of resources and tools out there designed to help you study God’s Word. I’m a back-to-the-basics kinda girl, and I prefer studying the Word by itself to reading through a devotional. Reading books by Christian authors designed to help you grow in your faith is super valuable, but it still doesn’t replace time spent in God’s Word.

Today I’d like to share some of my favourite Bible study tools with you, as well as some tips to help you get more out of your quiet time!

1. My Bible.

I thought I’d start with the obvious: the actual Bible. Personally, I love my Thinline ESV Bible. I like the ESV version because it’s a word-for-word translation, rather than a phrase-for-phrase translation. The language they use is also great—it’s not too hard or too easy to understand.

Although it doesn’t matter what translation of Bible you use, it is important to use one you can understand and apply to your life. If you love the NKJV, stick with that! If you have an easier time understanding the NLT version, use it! Neither is wrong or right—as long as you’re understanding it, use whichever version you feel most comfortable with.

2. Coloured highlighters.

As I read through a Bible passage, I like to highlight. I use three different highlighters. I colour-code as I go to make it easier to find verses by topic. Yellow is basically anything that is important or spoke to me, pink is anything to do with God’s promises to me, and blue is for verses about God’s love for me (SO important to remember!). Although there are several different kinds of highlighters for Bibles, my favourite are these gel ones. 😊

If I want to make notes in the margins of my Bible, I use a pencil (I have commitment issues to using ink in my Bible…)


3. A notebook.

I’m a journal-er. If I’m not writing down notes, verses that stuck out to me, or general thoughts, I feel like nothing I studied has really sunk in. Writing down what I’ve learned is a great way for me to reflect on the passage. In my notebook, I write down:

  • the date
  • what Scripture I’m studying
  • verses that stood out to me and why
  • prayer requests/notes
  • any other thoughts

Now, I do want to say this…journalling is not for everyone. Writing stuff down may not work for some people, and that’s okay! If having a prayer journal or notebook doesn’t help you retain God’s Word, don’t pressure yourself to do it. Bible study is about learning God’s Word and applying it to your life, not doing what everyone else seems to be doing.

4. Coloured pens.

Because I like to journal as I study the Word, I like to have pretty pens. I bought a package of multi-coloured Sharpie pens, and I love using them! I use different colours for headings, dates, and passages as I journal. Of course, plain ink works just as well. For a couple years I only used pencil, and the quality of my quiet time didn’t suffer at all. 😊


5. My phone.

I know, I know…major distraction potential. But I can justify this. I promise.

I use my phone for a couple different things when I have my quiet time. The very first thing I do is put my phone on silent/do not disturb, and I place it face-down. This means that I won’t even be tempted to check what my friend just texted me, or who just commented on my Instagram photo. When I can’t see or hear my phone going off, I can focus on God. Satan will use every distraction to pull us from time in the Word, and I try to prevent that as much as possible.

Then I use my phone for two things: worship and study. I play worship music (softly!) on my phone in the background as I have my quiet time. But I have to be a little careful with my music choices. I love music, and sometimes my favourite jams end up being more distracting. No, Emily, now is not the time for a private dance party. I made up a worship music playlist on my phone, packed full of Hillsong, Bethel, and Chris Tomlin.

I also use my phone for different Bible studies. Currently, I’m working through IF:Equip’s Joshua study. Sometimes I used She Reads Truth as well. I love both of these communities and the study resources they provide!

Part of following IF:Equip’s study is the journalling aspect of my quiet time as well. For each passage you study, they suggest you journal three questions: 1) What does this mean about God? 2) What does this mean about me? and 3) What does this mean about the world? These questions help me to take what I just learned and apply it to God, myself, and the world around me. I use these questions even when I’m not doing my scheduled Bible study; they apply to any passage, which I love!

If you’re not into journalling, I would still encourage you to check out IF:Equip! They also have brief video discussions for each study, as well as a question of the day and a comment/discussion forum.

I hope you’ve enjoyed a glimpse into my Bible study time!

How do you study the Bible? What’s your favourite way to learn God’s Word?


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Stress: Dealing with It in a God-Honouring Way

We all have stress in our lives. But how do we deal with it? And how do we deal with it in a way that honours God? Click here to read my top four ways to de-stress!

In today’s world, a lot is expected of teens and young adults. At a young age, we need to decide what kind of career we want, where we’ll go to college, where we’ll live, who we’ll marry…the list goes on and on. How is is possible to make all these decisions without some level of stress?!

The thing is, we millennials aren’t the only ones who are stressed. Stress doesn’t just go away once you turn 27. We’ll always have stressful things to deal with. The problem with stress is that it steals our joy. And stress is a dangerous mix of busyness + worry, which are both things God tells us not to entertain.

But how do we avoid stress? I mean, life happens. It’s pretty hard to avoid, unless you want to live your life hidden in a room (and I doubt many of us want that). Today, I’m going to share with you my top four ways of dealing with stress!

1. Tell God you’re not okay.

How many of us run to our phone and text our best friend when we find out that we failed a test for the first time? (Guilty!) The thing is, God should be the first one we go to when stuff happens. He created us, and He loves us. I can’t tell you the number of times (if I had to guess, it would probably be about a gazillion) that I’ve gone to God and said, “God, this really, really sucks. I don’t even know what to do or say.” God is with us in everything—and He’s never leaving. He created us, and He loves us. Why are we so hesitant to approach Him with our problems? I promise He’s big enough to handle it. And His grace is enough to get us through it. It’s been my experience that when I go to God with my issues + problems, He comforts me like no other. He knows my spirit like no other, and He knows exactly how to comfort me. I’m blown away by His love.

2. Have time to yourself.

I’m an introvert—very much so. This means that I need to be alone to recharge. I love people and being around my friends, but at some point my tank gets empty. And the only way to fill it back up is to spend some time by myself–whether that’s reading a book, working on a sewing project, or just doing my nails and listening to music. When I’m feeling stressed out, it always helps to have some me-time. Once I have more energy, it’s 10x easier to deal with whatever I’m facing!

3. Spend some time in the Word.

One of the things that helps me a LOT when I’m feeling overwhelmed is opening my Bible to the book of Psalms. Sometimes I find something that really speaks to my situation and God uses His Word to put me back into perspective. Other times, I’m just reminded of how great our God is and how He is so wonderfully in control.

4. Go for a hike.

Okay, so there aren’t that many places to hike in southwestern Ontario. It’s pretty flat down here. But going for a walk does wonders for a stressed soul. There’s something about doing something physically active and spending time in God’s creation that is a huge stress-reliever. When I walk around and take the time to see how incredible God is, I’m comforted that He can handle whatever it is I’m going through. Often, we drive by gorgeous autumn trees, new spring flowers, wide blue lakes, and towering mountains and we forget Who made them all. When I take the time to seek out and look at our Lord’s creation, I find myself wanting to praise Him all the more.

How do you deal with stress?

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Is Fear Making Your Decisions for You?

We all have to make big decisions in our lives. But how are we making those decisions? Are they made in faith or fear? How do we know which decision is the right one? Read more to find out!

Have you ever been faced with a decision and wondered which path is the right one to take?

I’m sure you have. We all have. Life is based on decisions. Lots of these decisions we make automatically, barely thinking about them. This morning, you made the decision to get out of bed and start your day. Other times, we have to make really big, “life-altering” decisions—where to go to school, what job to accept, who to marry. Other decisions are critical, but we don’t put enough emphasis on them. Who will we spend our time serving? How will we treat those around us?

Recently, I was talking to a close friend of mine. She is currently working her first “real job” after graduating college, and is faced with the decision of whether or not she should continue her education.

As we talked, I shared that recently, I’ve caught myself making a lot of decisions out of fear. I choose one option just because I’m fearful of the alternative. When we’re faced with a challenge, it’s often easier to take the easy route (which may not have as many benefits) instead of the more challenging path (although it could reap a richer harvest).

How often do we pray about a big (or small) decision we have to make, only to pick the easier or less-scary one? I think if we really consider the last few significant choices we made, we will find that one—or several—of those choices was made out of fear.

But God doesn’t want us to live like that. Over and over in Scripture, we are told to “not fear” and “be not afraid”. God is not a God of fear. He is a God of love and courage and blessing. He is a brave God. And we can have that bravery.

Next time you’re wondering which path God wants you to take, consider whether or not fear is a factor. God will never use fear to guide you. He guides by love. Satan will try to steer you away from God’s will with fear. Perhaps the route you’re fearing is actually the route God wants you to take.

God will not bring you to something if it is not His will. Even though you may be fearful, He is with you. Always.

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

(2 Tim. 1:7)

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Guarding Your Heart in Every Area of Life

Hello all! Welcome to the second part of the Having a Heart of Gold series! In this mini-series, we’ve been looking at having a heart after God’s own—what it is and isn’t, what it means, and why it’s important. Last week, we talked about why following your heart may not always be the best answer. (If you haven’t read that post yet, you can check it out by clicking here!) This week, we’re talking about guarding your heart—what does that even mean? And why does it matter? Keep reading to find out!

You've probably heard about "guarding your heart" in the context of dating. But have you ever thought of guarding your heart in other areas of life? Why is guarding our hearts so important? In this post, I explain why it's important and give you some practical tips to guard your heart and bring you closer to God!

Usually when someone tells you to “guard your heart,” when your thirteen, they basically mean don’t get too attached to a boy until you’re ready to date. But we all should be guarding our hearts in some way for the rest of our lives.

What do I mean when I say “guard” your heart? Webster’s Dictionary defines guard as this:

a state in which someone is carefully looking for possible danger, threats, problems, etc.

From this, I would define guarding your heart in the Christian context as looking for any possible threats to your heart—temptations, envy, anger, gossip, etc. So why is guarding your heart important?

The Bible gives a really good–and simple–reason in Proverbs 4 (ESV):

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

Other versions say to “guard” your heart, for “everything you do” flows from it. As discussed in the first part of this series, our heart affects everything we do. Our emotions, thoughts, and actions all originate in the heart. It’s such an integral part of our being that we can’t afford to leave it be. When our heart is wise, it is evident in every area of our lives:

A wise man’s heart inclines him to the right, but a fool’s heart to the left. Even when the fool walks on the road, he lacks sense, and he says to everyone that he is a fool. (Ecc. 10:2 – 3)

So how can we guard our hearts? There are definitely things we need to guard our hearts from…but how do we do that?

Ask God to create a new heart in you.

When we try to become wise, we become our own kinda wise–which is really foolishness to God. On our own, we can’t guard our hearts. That would be like trying to create weapons out of trees and branches against Satan’s nuclear weapons–it just won’t work.

However, when we ask God for His heart, He gives us just that–the super-tough Satan-proof stuff. We have new desires and new thoughts. When you ask Him to, He will give you the strength to resist Satan.

Ask God to show you areas that are attacking your heart.

Unfortunately, we often have a hard time seeing beyond ourselves. It doesn’t usually go well when we’re all courageous and say, “Temptation? Pfff…I got this.” Yeah…notsomuch. But when we ask God to specifically point out the areas of our lives that maybe aren’t actually turning us toward Him, He will gently convict (or two-by-four-over-the-head convict) you of things that are actually attacking your relationship with Him. Are there people in your life who are pulling you away from Christ? Are there things distracting you from spending time with God? Do you have any desires that are pulling you from Christ?

Make the (uber-tough) decision to put those things aside.

…And if need be, actively pray against them. We are fighting a war here. Christianity isn’t a feel-good philosophy to get us through life and make us moral people. It’s a battle against evil with the promised victory of eternal life. Things won’t change just because you want them to. Prayer is required–regular, sincere, battle-worthy prayer. As you pray against those things pulling you from God, also concentrate on the things that encourage your walk with Christ and build God’s armor around yourself. A heart of good character won’t just happen, but it will become stronger as you build into it.

As you go into this week, allow me to challenge you to find one thing that you need to guard against. Ask God to help you to guard your heart, and be willing to make life changes to become closer to His.

Are there things in your life that threaten your heart-armor?

How do you overcome these things?

Other posts from the Heart of Gold series:

  1. Is Following Your Heart a Good Idea?
  2. Guarding Your Heart in Every Area of Life (you’re reading it now!)
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