Our world changed on September 11, 2001. During the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., our nation came face-to-face with our vulnerability. For the first time, many people came to the realization of their need for a Higher Power. As a Pastor in New York City on that fateful day, I spoke with countless people on the streets who realized that they were distant from God. One wealthy New York business executive described to me, with some emotion, how he had missed the point of living: “I have spent my whole life, striving for the Big Unit.” I wondered, “What in the world is the Big Unit?” He explained, “The Big Unit is having $25,000,000 in the bank! When you have that, then you can take your peddle off the floor and relax a little bit. You are set for life. But I realized today that if I was in the World Trade Center when those planes hit, it doesn’t matter if I have $25,000,000 or 25 cents… I am going to die! And, I am not ready to die!” Then he asked me, “Preacher, how can I get back in sync with God? I used to have a pretty close relationship with God, but I drifted away.” How would you have answered that man?
When was the last time you felt distant from God? When you felt God was far away? Have you ever felt like your prayers never got past the ceiling? Or, you didn’t even feel like praying? This is a normal feeling, even for mature Christians. Just as people can grow apart in a human relationship, so we can drift away from God. The difference is that in human relationships, both parties contribute to the distance. But, in the relationship with God, the reality is that we drift away from God. God never drifts away from us. As Dr. Barry Black, Chaplain of the U.S. Senate says, “If you feel far away from God… guess who moved?”
How do we get back “in sync” with God? The same way we get back in sync in a human relationship. Spend time together. Listen to each other. Get to know one another. Be honest with each other. Start showing up at events that are important to the other.
For example… do you make a habit out of spending regular time with your husband, your wife, your siblings, your children, and your closest friends? In the same way, God invites us to spend time in prayer, Bible study, and worship, because God wants to know us and wants to be known!
When our son, Ryan, was a plebe at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, he was allowed to make his first phone call home on a Sunday morning. We were on vacation out of state. This was in the era before the cell phone was so commonplace. When we learned that our son could call us, we completely rearranged our plans and actually drove all night to get home to receive his call! We couldn’t wait to hear how he was doing amid the rigors of an arduous “plebe summer.” Waiting for the phone to ring seemed like an eternity! When he finally called, we asked, “How are you doing?” He said, “Fine. I’m doing great!” (I thought, “For this… we drove all night?”) LOL! All kidding aside, it was wonderful to hear his voice. Our conversation was a gift! That is the way God feels when we reach out in prayer. The truth is that God has been close to us all along … it’s just we’ve been pre-occupied with other things… and we didn’t hear God knocking on the door of our life.
Unless I miss my guess, there is someone reading this devotional who is facing an uncertain future, or is worried about a loved one, or is mourning the death of a close family member or friend. Or, maybe, like that wealthy New Yorker, you feel that you have missed the point of living. In these challenging moments, it is well to remember these powerful words from Romans 8: Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. So… if we feel distant from God… guess who moved? What are we going to do to get back in sync with God… today?
An Exercise in Getting “In Sync” with God
- Read the 23rd Psalm and memorize it (you may have done this years ago). Once you get the psalm fully memorized, take five minutes in silence at home, in your office, in your parked car or in a quiet spot and recite it out loud (S L O W L Y!). Do it three times with some space in between for reflection and prayer. Take a deep breath. Listen to what God may be saying to you.
- Do this every day for the next seven days.