I’ve heard it said that if we find ourselves far from God, God hasn’t moved—we have. 

The heart behind that statement seems to be that God is faithful when we aren’t. He is omnipresent, and he is relentless in his pursuit of us. This is true and vital to understand. 

The problem is, it paints an unbiblical picture of a static God who never moves, and nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, sometimes our sense of distance from God is created when God moves and we don’t move with him.

Biblical examples

God said to Moses, There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock.When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.” (Exodus 33:21,22). Moses experienced God’s presence in a profound way by moving to the place God highlighted. If he’d remained standing where he was, this encounter would have passed him by.

Speaking of the Holy Spirit, Jesus told Nicodemus, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:6). The Spirit-led life means moving with the Spirit.

Paul underscored this when he urged the Galatians, Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25).

And Christ told his disciples, “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be.” (John 12:26). It’s possible to be where God ‘isn’t,’ in the sense that he invites us to join him in what he’s doing and if we disobey, we’ll miss him in that moment.

Job also says that “God does speak—now one way, now another— though no one perceives it” (Job 33:14). Sometimes God ‘changes channels’ on us, to see if we’re paying attention, just like he manifested as a pillar of smoke by day, and a pillar of fire by night while leading Israel through the wilderness. 

The bottom line is this: Sometimes when we’re waiting for God to show up, he’s waiting for us to catch up.

My relationship with God

I experience a lot of verbal and visual communication with God (words and pictures). The past three weeks, he’s been communicating mostly through logic and intuition (my thinking and knowing), which is far more subtle than I’m used to. At first, it didn’t seem like he was speaking at all, but when I tried tuning in to these other channels, I realized he’d been speaking all along. I don’t know why he’s doing this, but my job is to keep in step with the Spirit, not expect God to change what he’s doing for my preferences.

What about you?

Are you feeling distant from God? It might be that God has moved in your life, and he’s waiting for you to catch up. Normally, this means you’re one step of obedience away from being where you need to be. Go “stand on the rock” he’s pointing to. Do what he’s asking you to do. Change channels and see if he’s changed tactics. Many times, this will clear the air and restore your sense of immediacy with God.