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When you don’t feel close to God

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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A young sad girl with a tear rolling down her cheek looking in the distance for God (Credit: olly via

Does God sometimes seem silent?  Are there times when you need to know his will, but you can’t sense his leading?

I am currently reading through Isaiah in my personal Bible study.  Isaiah 48 is addressed to Israel in Babylonian exile.  Their temple has been destroyed, their homes razed, their people enslaved.  Why has such calamity befallen God’s people?

In the midst of the chapter, I found a remarkable invitation from the King of Kings: “This is what the LORD says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go'” (Isaiah 48:17).  God wants to redeem us, teach us, and lead us.

The nation tragically refused all three invitations: “If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea.  Your descendants would have been like the sand, your children like its numberless grains; their name would never be cut off nor destroyed before me” (vs. 18-19).

This was not their first time.  When Israel rejected God’s redemption, teaching and leadership at the edge of Canaan, the nation was forced to wander in the wilderness until the entire faithless generation had died (Numbers 14:26-35).

Here’s my question: is God waiting to redeem our circumstances, teach us his truth, and lead us in his “good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2)?  Is there an area of rebellion or disobedience that is keeping us from hearing his voice and sensing his Spirit?

I was a youth minister while in college.  In my first church position, I was also the “volunteer” church sign changer (I was the one who was volunteered).  The pastor would decide what should go on the sign and I would change the letters accordingly.  The most memorable message I ever posted was this statement: “If you don’t feel close to God, guess who moved.”