Out of gas. That’s how I’ve felt this past week - spiritually out of gas. I tried reading my Bible, but it was just words on a page. Then I thought maybe I needed to confess all my sins - which I did - but my prayers seemed to just bounce off the ceiling, never piercing through the fog. I tried listening to Christian music, but it felt like the voices were singing about someone I didn’t know, or, more accurately, someone I used to know but who was now on vacation.
"God, where are you? Don’t you care?" I said the words out loud to Him, and received no answer.
Then I recalled something C.S. Lewis said: that there is a natural ebb and flow to our faith. Sometimes we feel close to God, and sometimes we don’t. Lewis called it “the law of Undulation:”
“[Man’s] nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation – the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks…this undulation [is] in every department of his life – his interest in his work, his affection for his friends, his physical appetites, all go up and down. As long as he lives on earth periods of emotional and bodily richness and liveliness will alternate with periods of numbness and poverty. The dryness and dullness…are merely a natural phenomenon.” (From The Screwtape Letters)
Wait a minute, so this is normal? Knowing that changes everything. I don’t have to fret or worry that my faith is in jeopardy. I don’t have to beg and plead with God to stop hiding from me. I don’t have to navel gaze in order to find that one stubborn sin that is ruining everything. Knowing that this is all part of the natural rhythm of life, I can simply hold on in the trough and wait for the next peak.
I think about times in the Bible when God seemed distant or absent from His people. When Lazarus got sick, Jesus was nowhere to be found. In fact, he purposely stayed away until Lazarus was good and dead. When he finally arrived, Mary, the sister of Lazarus, said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” But, of course Jesus knew exactly what he was doing. The trough of his absence was merely a preparation for the peak that followed, one that he had planned for all along: Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead! (John 11)
In the same way, I am reminded (thanks to Lewis) that I can simply wait for God to show up in my trough. When He arrives, He will bring His resurrection power with Him, reviving me in such a way that I will reach a new peak in my faith.
That’s totally worth waiting for!