We’ve all heard it and perhaps have thought it: “I just feel really close to God right now.”
That’s fine if, in fact, one is actually close to God, but the problem is that how we feel does not determine our closeness to God.
Just because one feels close to God doesn’t mean he is, in fact, close to God. Rather, we are close to God because we draw near to God in the way that He directs.
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb 4:16)
For the law made nothing perfect; but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. (Heb 7:19)
Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Heb 7:25)
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Heb 10:22)
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:8)
We don’t get close to God on our terms, but on His, and the only way to know what His terms are is to read the revelation of His mind. God has chosen to reveal His mind (1 Cor 2:10-13), and His connection to His word is so close that the power of His message cannot be ignored (see Hebrews 4:12-13, where the movement goes from the powerful word to God Himself). Feelings alone cannot be trusted to give us proper information, and that is just another way of trusting in mankind.
“Cursed is the person who trusts in mankind.
He makes human flesh his strength,
and his heart turns from the Lord.” (Jer 17:5)
Indeed, “The heart is more deceitful than anything else…” (Jer 17:9).
One may feel something in the heart and yet be deceived, so we must be very careful here. This does not argue for a cold, lifeless, calloused kind of religion. Our hearts need to be in the right place, and the heart’s place is in following God’s revealed will. If someone feels cold, it’s not the fault of the word of God. The word is what it is, and God’s message is the same regardless of how we feel about it.
Drawing near to God is like anything else: trust God in this, not your own heart. Let your heart follow what God has revealed, then you’ll know that drawing near to God transcends your feelings.