"Lord, why can't I feel your presence in my life?" I cried out. It wasn't the first time I had felt like this. In the two years I had been a Christian, it seemed the joys of spiritual wholeness were only ever experienced in momentary glimpses.
On a good week, I would feel the companionship of God in everything I did. Whether I prayed, read the Bible or sang the occasional hymn, God would be with me. However, the majority of the time I would neglect those things and it seemed God's presence would slowly exit out the back door.
And now here I was again, lying in the dark and wondering where it all went wrong. It isn't like I wanted to shove God aside but between class assignments, daily routines and adjusting to married life, I had managed to push Him into the background.
Suddenly, I wasn't feeling so well. Although my wife was sleeping beside me, an excruciating loneliness took over. It wasn't the sort of loneliness that yearned for physical companionship--I had that. This feeling of isolation stemmed from a much deeper spot within. Both body and mind were desperately craving spiritual renewal.
At that moment, I realised what had to be done. I needed to get my priorities straight. I wanted my inner life to reflect something God would be satisfied with. But most of all, I wanted to hear the voice of God in my life.
"Lord, please fill me up--I need you! I need you!"--it was the most desperate plea I had made in two years. I didn't shout the words for the world to hear but kept them within a whisper to myself. "I need you! I want to be close to you!" I must have repeated those words at least 10 times. With every breath, the conviction grew stronger. The room was becoming a scene of desperation. I would have given almost anything to feel God's presence at that moment. Nevertheless, I waited on Him like a lost boy waiting for his parents among a crowd of people. I was ashamed for feeling lost and yet anticipating God would find me. Eventually came the moment of intervention. The response was clear in my mind: How can you get close to Me if you don't spend time with Me? The reality hit me hard.
What did I do with my spare time? I wondered. What was I doing after I completed the class assignments, met the daily routines and attended to the needs of my marriage? I knew for sure what I wasn't doing. I wasn't coming back to God with a thankful heart. Sure, I gave my tithe on the weekends and attended church every Sabbath--but it wasn't enough. What God wanted was my time from Sunday through to Saturday. I decided then and there to stop engaging in recreational activities that were taking away from time spent with God.
The next day, I described the events of the previous night to my wife. She has always been the stronger Christian, so you can imagine the joy she felt when I told her I wanted to join her whenever she read the Bible. Her support was enormous and together we made a commitment to stop watching our favourite TV programs. In fact, we performed an entire spiritual clean-up, throwing out DVDs and music that served no purpose in getting closer to God.
While our actions may seem extreme, that decision has been the best one we could have made as a couple. Spending time with God is no longer a challenge in our lives.
Another reason for right living is that you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for the coming of our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. Romans 13:11.
Stephane Millien is studying communications at Avondale College and lives, with his wife, Isabelle, in Cooranbong, New South Wales.
This story is used with permission from Signs Publishing Company. More of these stories can be found in these collections: Ordinary People—Extraordinary God, Ordinary People—Faithful God, and Ordinary People—Generous God