FEELING CLOSE TO JESUS! 8/90
--By Maria Maria #150 DO 2746
(Because of the very positive response from quite a few of you to the portion of the "Tony's Last Chance" Letter [EDITED: "ML #2714"] that dealt with the subject of walking by faith & not by feelings, Mama felt that this "Feeling Close to Jesus" Letter, which was actually given a year before her Letter to Tony, could also be a blessing to you, as it sheds more light on this topic. God bless you!)
1. Quite a few people seem to have trials & battles because they don't feel close to Jesus.--"Oh, I must not be close to the Lord because I just don't feel close to Him!"
2. The Bible makes it very clear that we're not supposed to go by our feelings!--"We walk by faith, not by sight!"--2Cor.5:7. If we start trusting or relying too much on our feelings as an indicator of how well we're doing spiritually, we're going to be very unstable! We'll be continually tossed to & fro by every wind of feeling that happens to come along. (See Eph.4:14; Jam.1:6.) We'll never know how we're going to be doing tomorrow, as that would be determined by how we feel when we get up in the morning.
3. Regardless of how we may happen to feel, if we love the Lord & are walking by faith & obeying His Word, then we know that our relationship with the Lord is still firm. And we certainly know that His Love for us is unchangeable, unwavering. He says, "I have loved thee with an everlasting Love.--For though the mountains should depart & the hills be removed, My kindness shall not depart from thee! For I will never leave thee nor forsake thee!"--Jer.31:3; Isa.54:10; Heb.13:5.
WALKING BY FEELINGS INVITES DISCOURAGEMENT!
4. If you're running on your feelings, then the Devil is going to do his best to get you feeling terrible most of the time!--Because he knows if he can just get you feeling down, then he can actually get you down! He'll "come in like a flood" with his negative thoughts, trying to convince you that you're a failure & that you're so horrible, until he's got you totally defeated, discouraged & in despair. Then he'll say, "You certainly aren't close to the Lord! In fact, you must not even love the Lord.--And He must not love you either, because look how terrible you feel!"
5. When you're relying on your feelings, the Devil can play with your emotions & make you feel very unclose & far from the Lord for days or weeks or even months at a time! When he sees that you're walking by sight, he can figure, "Aha, this person is an easy target for me! I'll just make them feel terrible, & then they'll think they're not close to the Lord, & then they'll get completely discouraged, completely in despair & they'll think something's wrong with them or something's wrong with the Lord, & they'll lose hope!" So it's dangerous to walk by sight, by feelings! When besieged with such doubts, you've got to "fight the good fight of faith" & resist the Devil & his lies! (1Tim.6:12; Jam.4:7.)
IF YOU DON'T FEEL CLOSE TO JESUS, DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT!
6. I know that some people do feel close to the Lord, they feel close to Jesus. For example, the other night when Techi was going to bed she said, "I'm just going to snuggle up in Jesus' arms now." She can imagine that. Well, I'm glad she can; most children can, as can many adults. But I don't have that ability or that kind of imagination. I don't feel like I'm resting on Jesus' breast when I go to sleep. I'm just not all that creative or that imaginative. I never have been, that's just the way I am.
7. Some people just have more of an imagination, more creativity to be able to picture & fantasise & enjoy things like that. I can't fantasise because the Lord hasn't given me that kind of an imagination. Some people have more imagination & are more creative in their minds, they can picture things more easily. Whereas others of us can't just imagine or picture things like that.
8. We all have certain personalities, & some of us are very much more emotional & very much more feeling than others. But just because I don't feel a big emotional closeness to the Lord, I can't sit around moping, "Oh, poor me, I just don't feel close to You, Jesus! Please give me some feelings & make me feel closer to You."
9. If I were worried about that all the time I'd be constantly down in the dumps & I would be in a mess! I'm enough of a mess as it is without having worries & problems like that! So we just have to take things by faith! There aren't too many verses in the Bible on feeling, but there are a lot about faith & trusting the Lord & believing His Word!
HOW TO KNOW IF YOU'RE CLOSE TO THE LORD!
10. So how can you know if you're close to the Lord? You can know by His Word, that says if you "draw nigh to God"--by your submission & obedience to Him--"He will draw nigh to you!"--Jam.4:7,8. Even if you can't feel anything, any closeness at all, you can still know you're close to Him if you're doing your best to love the Lord & please Him & obey His Word & do what you know He has said.
11. We've got to just go by the Facts, by the Word. And your faith in His Word & your obedience & yieldedness have nothing to do with your feelings! So it doesn't really matter whether you feel close to the Lord or not. You don't have to feel that emotion!
WHAT IF YOU'VE SLIPPED, FALLEN OR DISOBEYED?
12. Of course, when we slip & fall because of sin or disobedience, it's easy to feel condemned, like, "Oh, I can't possibly be close to the Lord because of my sins, because of all my faults & shortcomings!" But you must not let the Enemy--or even your own heart--condemn you. (1Jn. 3:20) Even if you have disobeyed the Lord, if you're sorry for your sins & you sincerely desire to be close to Him, "He will be merciful & gracious to you, slow to anger & plenteous in mercy. And though you fall, you will not be utterly cast down, for the Lord upholdeth you with His hand! For if we confess our sins, He is faithful & just to forgive us our sins & to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. For a broken & a contrite heart, He will not despise."--Psa.103:8; 37:24; 1Jn.1:9; Psa.51:17.
13. An awful lot has to do with your heart, with your attitude. If you sincerely want to please the Lord & do His Will, to love Jesus & live for Him, then He will certainly "draw nigh unto you" when you call out to Him. He says, "The Lord is nigh unto all that call upon Him in truth. He is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; & saveth such as be of a contrite spirit."--Psa.145:18; 34:18.
14. So regardless of any feelings of discouragement or condemnation that the Enemy may try to barrage you with, if you know you're truly seeking to love & please the Lord, to obey His Word & follow Him, then you're close to Him!--Whether you happen to feel close to Him or not!
15. In fact, sometimes people are the closest to the Lord when they feel the furthest from Him! For example, when we're humbled by our own mistakes & shortcomings & sinfulness, we don't usually feel so inspired or close to the Lord, but we may, in fact, be very close to Jesus at such times! And there are also times when some people may feel that they are very close to the Lord when they may actually not be close to Him at all.--Particularly if they're self-righteously trusting in their own so-called goodness or good works, instead of relying on the Lord & His goodness, grace & mercy! This is a point that Dad brings out very clearly in the "Benefits of Backsliding" Letter (ML #312), which says:
16. "When people lose their innocence, they don't feel they are as close to the Lord as before. That's because they don't really realise what God's righteousness is. Their idea of righteousness is so different from God's! When you feel so righteous & good, it's because you are self-righteous & not closer to God, but closer to yourself! But confessing that you're a sinner, really exposing yourself & your sins, reminds you that you're no picture of purity & innocence! And though you may no longer feel quite so angelic, you're a whole lot more saintly according to God's idea of saintliness!"
17. So just because you're feeling down does not necessarily indicate that you're far from the Lord. You can be very close to the Lord even if you're feeling terrible!
18. And we cannot say that every time you're feeling down or badly about something that it's the Devil's doing. There are times when the Lord tries to get through to you through your feelings as well!--Feelings of guilt or remorse or sadness etc., which can often come as a result of His checks, His chastenings or His conviction. Just as the Devil & his demonic imps try to hinder & condemn & discourage us from doing God's Will through our feelings, so the Lord & His Holy Ghosts try to help & convict & encourage us to do His Will through our feelings.--Even though they may sometimes seem to be unpleasant or "bad" feelings.
19. Remember the story Dad told about the time that he had a "near death experience," when he sat up out of his body in bed & saw Dr. Koger etc.? (See "Another Holy Ghost Story!", ML #679.) Dad had just said "no" to the Lord, telling the Lord that He should get someone else to pioneer & open up a Soul Clinic School in Miami. When the Lord sent Dr. Koger to come for him, to take him to meet the Lord, as soon as Dad realised what was happening, how did he feel? He said, "I was so ashamed! I think I never felt so cheap in my whole life! I never felt so little & so mean & so horrible, to think that I'd refused the Lord, & now I had died & I had to go face the Lord!"
20. So although we're not ignorant of the Devil's devices, & we know that he frequently tries to use our feelings to discourage & get us down, we can't say that all bad feelings are of the Enemy. Sometimes we feel bad because the Lord is speaking to our hearts about something, convicting us of a sin or even warning us about something. So we can't just dismiss all bad feelings & say they're all of the Devil. When we're feeling bad, we often need to "examine ourselves, whether we be in the faith" (2Cor. 13:5), & find out why we're feeling that way, or what the Lord's trying to show us!
THE KEYS TO CLOSENESS: FACT, FAITH & OBEDIENCE!
21. So how do you know if you're close to the Lord, how do you get close to Jesus? You get close to Jesus by obeying His Word & by yielding to His Will!--That's how you get close to Jesus! Jesus says, "If a man love Me, he will keep (obey) My Words, & My Father will love him, & We will come unto him & make Our abode with him."--Jn.14:23. So if you're obeying & keeping what He says in His Word, then of course you're close to the Lord!--He'll come & make His abode with you.--That's pretty close! It's as simple as that. It's not a matter of feelings at all. But I don't know what you can do to feel close to Jesus. I don't think you can do much of anything. I know I can't.
22. The point is, we can't trust or put our faith in our feelings. We don't walk by our feelings! Whether you feel close to Jesus or not is beside the point! You can be close to Jesus whether you feel close to Him or not! His Word says, "Let us draw near (close) with full assurance of faith!"--Heb.10:22. You just have to go by faith! "The just shall live by faith!"--Heb.10:38. There are many times when some of us don't feel emotionally close to Jesus, but that doesn't matter, because we're not supposed to go by our feelings! We're supposed to go by Fact & faith, & our obedience & yieldedness.
WHEN YOU THINK YOU SHOULD FEEL INSPIRED, BUT YOU DON'T!
23. There are feelings & thrills & ecstasies & excitement of the Spirit that we experience sometimes.--Like the spiritual highs that we may feel when we've led a hungry soul to Jesus, or when the Word has spoken loudly & clearly to us, or when the Holy Spirit manifests Herself through us with a prophecy or message or vision etc. When we experience such feelings at such times, they are a token to us of the Lord's Love. He knows we like to feel these things, so He gives them to us as pleasurable experiences.
24. But even at times like that, we can't insist or demand or depend on having such feelings. Although most of us do experience such feelings at moments like that, if we don't, we shouldn't be discouraged or feel that something is dreadfully wrong with us or with our connection with the Lord. Just the fact that you've led a soul to Jesus, or that you've had time to feed from His Word, or that the Lord used you or spoke through you, should be enough. In other words, if you don't feel ecstatic after winning a soul, don't go home & condemn yourself for being backslidden in your heart just because you didn't get all excited or "feel inspired" when someone received the Lord.
25. Normally you probably will feel inspired & excited about winning a soul, but there are times when either the Enemy tries to come in & discourage & rob us of those beautiful feelings that the Lord would like to give us, or the Lord simply withholds such feelings because He's testing our faith. Likewise, if you pray in tongues & prophesy, but you don't happen to feel a big thrill in the Spirit, don't let the Devil tell you that you're out of it or you didn't really get something from the Lord or you're backslidden because you didn't get excited over a manifestation of the Spirit.
26. Or if you read a new Letter & you're not dancing up & down in your heart & feeling full of inspiration & enthusiasm, don't let the Enemy tell you that you're all washed up, you've lost your fire, you don't love the Word any longer. Just fire back at him, "Of course I love the Word--I'm living it! I'm a `doer' of the Word, & I'm going to get up from here & do what the Word says regardless of how I feel! Jesus says, `If you love Me, keep My commandments,' so I know that I love Him because I'm doing my best to keep His commandments! And I know I love the Word because Jesus is the Word, & I love Jesus because I'm keeping His commandments!"
27. So don't let the Devil trick you with his condemnation & accusation of, "Ah, look at you! You don't even love the Word!--Because you're not even excited about it! You don't love the Lord because you're not ecstatic or even feeling inspired!" Just rebuke the Enemy & laugh in his face & tell him, "Shut up, you liar!--I know I love the Word because I do what it says!"
28. You're not always going to be excited & feel inspired & be jumping up & down for joy! Sometimes you're hungry or tired, sometimes you're sick.--And let me tell you, when you're sick, it can be pretty difficult to enjoy anything! Sometimes you feel like you can barely even get out a little cry of help to the Lord, as you struggle just to keep your mind on the fact that He loves & cares about you, & that if you just hang on long enough He's going to pull you through.
BEING CLOSE TO JESUS!
29. So sometimes you might not feel close to Jesus. Other times you might feel close to Jesus. Usually when you feel close to the Lord, you probably don't have a battle or problem with that. The battle or trial usually comes when you lose those feelings of closeness to the Lord, when you don't feel close to Jesus. But don't let that worry you: Even if you don't feel close to Jesus, you can still be close to Him.--Because closeness to Jesus is much more than a mere feeling!
30. See, that's the drawback or problem that the people who frequently feel close to Jesus often face: When they don't feel close to the Lord, they then begin thinking that something must be very wrong, & it easily discourages them & gets them down. Because they are able to feel close to the Lord, they tend to rely on those feelings, so when they don't have them, they often go through big trials. But those of us who don't feel so much can't rely on our feelings, & therefore, we're more apt to rely on more stable & solid sources--like the Word & our faith & obedience to it--to determine whether or not we're close to Jesus.
31. Some people just feel close to Jesus more than other people feel close to Jesus. But those who feel close to Jesus more often than others are not necessarily any closer to Him or more spiritual than those who don't feel close to Jesus so often.
32. There's really no way you can gauge a person's spirituality by how much they "feel" spiritual, how much they shout or cry or sing or sigh or prophesy or loudly pray or look ecstatic or jump up & down for joy! Feelings are nice if you have them, but you can't judge your spirituality by them. Whether you feel close to Jesus or not is beside the point. What we want to do is to be close to Jesus!--Whether we feel close to Him or not!
33. So just forget about trying to feel close to Jesus! If you do happen to feel close to Him, be thankful, thank God for it. If you don't happen to feel close to Jesus, don't be discouraged. And remember, you can know you're close to Jesus if you're doing His Will & being obedient & yielding & doing all the things you're supposed to do.--Especially if you're feeding on His Word & trusting the Word & drinking in the Word & applying the Word & doing your best to live the Word. Then you can know you're close to Jesus, which is a whole lot better than just feeling close to Him!
34. This little poem by Martin Luther beautifully sums up what I've been talking about:
For feelings come & feelings go,
And feelings are deceiving;
My warrant is the Word of God,
Naught else is worth believing!
Though all my heart should feel condemned
For lack of some sweet token,
There is One greater than my heart
Whose Word cannot be broken!
I'll trust in God's unchanging Word
Till soul & body sever;
For, though all things shall pass away,
His Word shall stand forever!
Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family