Into This Dark Night: Removing Our Dependence on Our Senses

Bird on a wire.

I remember being so surprised to learn that God wants to remove our dependence on our senses. I mean, didn’t God give us our senses in the first place? Aren’t they a good thing? Why would God take the time to dream up, create, and give us senses to experience the world — not to mention experience our connection to himself — only to eventually take those senses away? What gives here?

But the more I understood, the more I understood.

When we judge our life with God based on our sensory experiences, we lose two ways.

First, we run the risk of judging reality based on feelings.

If we feel an infusion of good feelings when worshipping or praying or reading the Scriptures or any other sacred activity, we’re inclined to think we’re “doing good” with God. Accordingly, if we don’t feel those good sensory experiences during those activities, we’re inclined to think something’s wrong. 

Nothing’s wrong.

We don’t change in our standing with God based on the level of our felt connection to God when we engage spiritual practices. Our standing with God is sure. It doesn’t change with the passing wind. It doesn’t go up and down. It simply is. It can’t be changed or taken away.

(And praise God for that, right?)

Second, rooting our life with God in our sensory experiences can set us up to value the feelings over God himself. After all, who doesn’t love the heady high of worship? Who doesn’t love feeling God closer than one’s own breath? Who doesn’t love the feeling of being loved and cherished by God? 

These are all good things. But they are not the thing itself. 

There comes a point where our love for God is meant to deepen — when we are meant to grow in a purer love for God, simply because he is worthy of that love, not because of any good thing we may receive in the process. 

And so the night of the senses is a purifying process.

It purifies our love for God, and it frees us from our dependence on felt experiences to determine reality.