Waiting for the Lord’s Presence Again (by Matt)

Dear Michael and reader,

With such heavy and hardness of heart I write about my journey that I have yet to return from. September 1 2009, I had just spent the previous 2 days in the Spirit, praying, singing, sharing with fellow believers scripture to encourage them. It was a 1 of many precious moments with the LORD of Hosts that I cherished over the previous 7 months as a new believer.

I was justified on May 31 2009 when the Son of the Living God spoke into the deepest crevice of my heart through the preaching of Sinclair Ferguson on the resurrection and I was so justified, so forgiven, so full of the Holy Spirit that I never wanted to leave the bosom of my Jesus. I had to go ride my bicycle at 40 MPH to burn off the energy that I received from this forever forgiveness. Fast forward to Sept 1 2009, thursday and I am sitting at work about to have to go play an indoor soccer game with a team of non believers and one moment I was typing an email and the next I could sense the Spirit leaving me and I was reaching out like a lost child. In a moment, I was devasted thinking I had been called, justified, and then let go because perhaps as John 15 says I hadn’t borne enough fruit and so I lost the gift. What made it exponentially worse that night was that one of the soccer members blurted a blasphemy with God’s name in it and my brain reached out and grabbed that word and I could not let go of it. I kept hearing that word over and over in my thoughts and I thought I was going to be damned forever because of it.

For the next 3-4 months it got worse and worse. I felt and believed everyday that the last year with Christ had all been a dream. I didn’t doubt per se, the essential doctrines of the faith or the historical realities of it….that would come later at a time I couldn’t handle it. My fight was to believe I was in the flock. I began to see things through a lense as though I was going utterly, mentally insane. People had 2 eyes, and a big forehead. I thought why? If you peel away my skin I am just a skull and flesh with 2 eyeballs and a 5lbs brain that processes what I hope are realities. But if I lost my brain or if humans weren’t made, then would reality still be real or would it really matter?.

God was so distant to me. I began to feel like I was drifting and I no power over it. Like satan had my heel and I couldn’t escape. All the warning text of the bible drove me to insanity. I couldn’t care for my kids, I didn’t want to eat, I couldn’t work without weeping. I went home and crawled into bed and didn’t leave. I went to a psychiatrist thinking I was having brain issues. I went on medication that I think made it worse. I was sleeping 2-4 hours a night and with this new sleeping pill, I thought it was my answer. It was not. It made me began to sleep well. But the side affects were strange. I would wake up every morning having to rehash the last year and half of my conversion just to be able to make it through the day.

Everyday I woke up feeling like a different person without steady footing of an identity. I would still read and try to pray and I noticed steadily that sin became more of a coping mechanism than a delight. I drifted from community as I became angry with the LORD. I can’t describe how utterly abandoned and alone I felt. What was strange throughout all this, is that the spark of faith and grace in my belly was still there but with every drift and doubt in my mind, the heart started to become steadily harder. I began to reach out for sin that I knew wouldn’t satisfy and the moment I would partake I would repent and run the other way. I became suicidal to the point where I had written letters to my family and had it planned out.

May 2010, I was at lunch at home and thinking that day was my last on earth, even my body grew cold at the prospect of my impending death. I know the Lord wouldn’t turn me over to that so after a few hours the coldness went away and I decided against it, though I would have not been upset if someone did the job for me.

Now into fall of 2010, I am almost indistinguishable from my previous pre conversion spiritual state in that I don’t pray, barely read the bible, and watch countless hours of online TV just to pass the time until Christ returns or I get thrown into hell. I thought that it was literally my destination. Certain scriptures would help for a few minutes but the ability to concentrate and believe for more than an hour was hopeless. I thought this was coming from the LORD so I started to retreat from him as a figure who was playing with me and I didn’t like it. I can remember having visions of throwing my bible out the window and saying I am done, but when I would remember the sweet communion with Christ I had, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. The times of being purified in the Spirit and literally singing songs to him in my closet as though he was right in front of me kept me from running headlong into sin. The LORD protected that part of my mind from being deleted. The memories of him. But after those memories started to lose their fuel for my daily obedience, I have since drifted into such a hardness of heart that I can’t feel anything emotionally towards anything.

Now in April 2011, I want to return to him more than anything, but I am doing nothing to fight. I haven’t had alone time with him in months, taken the sacraments, or prayed in my closet. I think if I would have known what happened I perhaps would have known how best to pray. When the spirit of grace was beckoning me to return, I wouldn’t because I no longer trusted him. I have grown suspicious of him and I am now stuck. I can’t muster the grace to return. I can’t do anything other than run through meanlingless news websites, sportsites, empty conversations hoping one day Christ overpowers me like on July 20 2008 when he rebirthed me and put his law on my heart. I know people tell me to fight and don’t give up. I haven’t given myself up to sin. Lust, sexual immorality, anger, gossip, drunkeness, still scare me. It’s almost like if I turned again, I would have to go through the narrow gate of repentance again like I did at first and I then have Hebrews 6 haunt me. So regardless of where I turn to look for hope, there is a text locking my hands in fear. Perhaps I will return one day to this blog and brag about how Christ still hunts down his lost sheep.

Please pray for me.

About Matt bell

Just a nobody, trying to tell everybody about a Somebody that can save anybody. View all posts by Matt bell

8 responses to “Waiting for the Lord’s Presence Again (by Matt)

  • cmichaelpatton


    My heart is heavy as I read this. As with so many people like you, I cannot say the what and the why, I can just see what you have said and, most importantly, say I will pray for you.

    It sounds as if your initial conversion was something of an emotional high. It is for so many people. However, I wonder if this experience has not created a standard for the Lord’s presence that is not what he wants you to go by. I have never had such an experience so I don’t have something like that to look back to like you do.

    Maybe reading my post on Why God is So Silent might help to show you that his emperical presence is something that rarely, if ever, we should expect.

    We believe because it is the truth first. Feelings come and go. But our actions and feelings must have a firm foundation on the reality of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. In other words, if Christ rose, then his love and committment to us are real no matter what we feel.

    God bless you my brother.

  • Matt

    Hi Michael, I have battled with the “faith vs feelings” issue alot the past 18 months. I believe the reason for the devastation was that my faith/assurance had left. The sweetest moments with the LORD were when I was prostrate on my face before him in terror, utterly broken over my sin and then he would raise my soul to a new level of communion with him through his word. The faith I experienced in him was not purely emotional. The faith and newfound love were literally pouring out of my soul like Christ promised would happen to the woman at the well. Living water was spewing from my every move as I walked, worked, slept, ate in Christ. He alone was my everything. It was the disruption of the communion that I initially became devastated by. Although I do advise against the purely emotional, I also have asked for discernment on whether the faith that brings peace is an emotional faith or a “assurance of things hoped for”. I think when the assurance goes away then it becomes very devastating. I just had to discern.

  • cmichaelpatton

    I understand and agree. I have never had that type of feeling before so to be without it for me is not devastating to my faith. I pray that the Lord will renew your confidence in him through a revived hope and assurance.

  • Jakob

    I recognize the feeling I get from reading this post from my own life as it is now. About not being able to pray, imagining myself throwing or tearing my bible apart, quitting faith (not as if I would not still believe it is the Truth, but more in the kind of way that: “God, I’m disappointed and can’t stand you anymore. Bye.”) and thinking about death. Maybe not suicide, but more in a way of hoping that my death would come soon, through some accident or something.

    During the end of fall I felt as though my ability to pray was “shut down”, as the Lord switched it off as with a light switch. I simply couldn’t manage to pray, I felt (and still feel) some sort of resistance, and as if the words are instantly sucked back down when trying to pray aloud. This began in the end of fall 2010 while I was spending the whole season at a solitary place by the ocean, a time for prayer and solitude (where the longing for this was initiated by a stressfull spring).

    I’ve had the feeling the whole time that God had something in mind, “He’s doing something, I just don’t know what.”-kind of. After a couple of months I could start praying, the difference is that I can’t pray for people, or for things anymore. Or not very often. I guess God wants me not to focus on helping others so much, but to focus on myself this time. I’m more focusing on trying to talk with Jesus, and that’s something I prayed for during fall, to get this “personal relationship with Jesus” as everyone is talking about. So I can anticipate somewhat what is happening, but sometimes, or most of the time, things are very confusing. Many times I feel that everything could just go down the trash can, and I’m back longing for death.

    The thing is, I can’t see if this actually, really, is some sort of testing from God’s part or not, like in Heb. 12:4ff. As if God wants me to come closer to him (since I did pray that many times), which means life can take real bad turns on the way there. People say so and I know that people can get closer to God through times of hardship. But, can I really know? What if I just need to talk to some psychiatrist (I’ve done it before once and it just felt lame) and this isn’t God really? The picture of Jesus cutting of branches from the wines in John 15 is something I’ve had in mind a little now and then. That would point somewhat to the Heb.12:4 passage. It hurts getting branches cut off but it is necessary to carry more fruit, kinda.

  • Jakob

    P.S. I still can’t pray aloud, especially not together with people. Sometimes I might do it when alone, but mostly I’m praying silently. And quite often I just sit down in silence before the Lord not praying anything. I’m not trying to flee from the Lord, I want to get to him, because I know the only way things go right is with him. But, even if I know it’s not a problem for God, I can’t even manage to bring up the strength to think, explain my problems and pour out my heart before him. My overall feeling is physical and mental weakness, and I feel more and more that I don’t have the energy to spend time with people. At the same time I feel lonely and want to spend time with people. So yeah, pretty messed up…

  • Erin


    Is it possible you’re experiencing clinical depression? I’m not that familiar with it, but perhaps you’re exhibiting symptoms that ought to be dealt with in a more professional setting.

  • Jakob

    Probably things which need to be professionally dealt with. I’m thinking of finding someone to talk to soon, whenever I get the motivation to it. I doubt it’s as serious as clinical depression though, I still get out of bed and so on.

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