Divided from God- Summary

My previous study was about needing to make time for God. As I was writing it though, I wanted to address the times where I have wished that that process was simpler. Because at the outset, coming to God often does not appear to be very straightforward. It is understandable to get frustrated by this perceived divide.

One of my reasons for writing this blog is to not only explore spiritual epiphanies, but also the spiritual frustrations that precede them. I think we are mistakenly afraid of being blasphemous if we admit that following God was, at times, aggravating.

But saying that something is aggravating is not the same as saying that it isn’t worth it. All relationships come with friction and frustration, but in them we also derive the greatest joy. And that includes our relationship with God. Do I wish that things were easier…a part of me wants to say yes, but a part of me knows it just couldn’t work that way.

We Are Twice Divided From God

When we are in the womb we maintain a direct connection with our nurturing mother. No effort is required for us to maintain sustenance, we acquire it freely. After birth, the mother’s body continues to provide nutrition for us, but the direct tether to her is severed. We can still be nourished, but now, and forever after, we’re going to have to work for it.
I do not believe that there is any coincidence for how well this reflects the separation from God brought about by the fall, and the effort now required of us to now reconnect with Him. It is our common lot as humankind.
But that only accounts for one of our separations. The second is that which we bring upon our own selves. Guilt and shame that have nothing to do with what Adam or Eve did, but rather what sins we, ourselves, have chosen to commit.
Romans 6:23- For the wages of sin is death
Alma 42:9- Therefore, as the soul could never die, and the fall had brought upon all mankind a spiritual death as well as a temporal, that is, they were cut off from the presence of the Lord, it was expedient that mankind should be reclaimed from this spiritual death.

There are Reasons and Wisdom Behind This Divide

Going back to the example of the newborn, the only way for an infant to remain tethered to its mother would be by stunting its growth forever. It could never grow to the full measure of a man or a woman while remaining so linked.
Character is defined by the things that we do when we do not feel another’s eyes peering over our shoulder. Character growth occurs when we do good things because of our own volition. In this way it is wise for God to allow enough separation for us to act and grow on our own.
Also, our separation from God ebbs and flows. Sometimes His presence is nearer and sometimes it is farther, depending on our own actions. This ingenious state of change provides an essential feedback loop for measuring our own behavior. When I sin, I feel more withdrawn from God, and that unpleasantness motivates me towards better choices. These, in turn, draw me nearer to Him.
2 Nephi 2:24- But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.
Doctrine and Covenants 6:28- For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.

The Divide Can Be Closed

If we were to directly see God in our daily lives, there would surely be far greater feelings of fulfillment in our hearts and far less evil performed in the world. But also we would be stunted children, just as Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden.
God planted the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden to allow for the reality of today. It was a gift. Now we truly and independently act. We make choices, feel God’s presence grow nearer or farther, and by that steer ourselves as we see fit. And if we choose to steer ourselves back to God, then regaining His presence will really mean something. It won’t just some default state that was premortally chosen for us. It will be the destiny that we have chosen for ourselves.
Mother birds have been known to push their young out of the nest. But they do not this so that the child will never return to the trees, rather so that when it does it will do so upon magnificent wings!
2 Timothy 4:7- I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.
Philippians 4:13- I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Divided from God- Question

There is an interesting dilemma that many experience in the gospel. They are taught of a God that is ever-near, full of compassion, and able to be petitioned for one’s daily needs. These are beautiful and encouraging thoughts, ones that the inner soul desperately craves for.

However then there is this matter of a God unseen. Initially it can be hard to resolve the notion of an ever-present Father with the reality of never directly perceiving this entity. God appears to be lurking just out sight, only able to be guessed at, and never truly known.

It would seem that we have been consigned to a state of frustration, ever wanting to know God more, but lacking the capacity to have our fill of Him. And yet Jesus promised that we would, in fact, be able to be filled and never left wanting again. I have found this statement to be true, though it frankly surprised me that it was.

With this study I would like to explore how God discloses Himself by degrees to those that come seeking Him, and how He does so in unexpected ways. We will consider how He is able to meet our need for divinity, even while remaining behind a shroud. Finally we will seek to understand the reasons behind His methodologies, exploring the reasons for His perceived absence.

In the meantime, have you ever found yourself wishing for a more immediate connection with God? Did He ever answer that need, even if not in the way you expected? What advice can you offer for how a neophyte can maintain patience while waiting to know God better?

Peace in the Storm- Job 23:1-3, 5, 8-9; 42:1, 5

Then Job answered and said,
Even to day is my complaint bitter: my stroke is heavier than my groaning.
Oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat!
I would know the words which he would answer me, and understand what he would say unto me.
Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him:
On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him:

Then Job answered the Lord, and said,
I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.

COMMENTARY

Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him
We have considered the fact that sometimes God’s support of us is invisible, and we feel that we are facing the storms of life alone. Job had such a moment. All that he loved was taken from him, and he was not given the reason why. In the quoted passage above he expresses his intense desire to find God, just so that he can understand what’s going on. But for a long while God does not answer his pleas. He is nowhere to be found. Thus to all Job’s worldly pain, there is now added the spiritual anguish of perceived abandonment.
Then comes the temptation. Job’s friends not only reject and condemn him, they urge him to curse God and die. Though their words sting him, he holds strong. And this, I know, is the reason why God sometimes appears to be absent in our lives. Sometimes we have to know that we will do the right thing, simply because it is the right thing. What we choose when we don’t feel God peering over our shoulder reveals to us our truest nature.

I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee
In the end, Job emerged from his trial with a deeper, more intimate perception of God than ever before. He describes it as the difference between only hearing something, and now actually seeing it. By experiencing God’s withdrawal, he was able to then have a greater closeness to Him.
When God withdraws His presence, it creates a vacuum where we are able to see our own light, and recognize that it is the same as His. Or in other words, sometimes God steps back from around us so that we can discover Him within us.