Have you ever seen God? Or felt his presence? Do you know for sure? These sound like "baiting" questions, I know. But I pose them because I always seem to bump up against not so much the existence of God (seriously, have you ever been to Yosemite Valley?) but our daily relationship to him. How do I relate to someone I can't physically see, hear, and touch? And of course, what do we do with the idea of suffering?
Yep, I am the classic "doubting Thomas" by nature; a skeptic. But I like to think of myself as someone wise whose mind is not for rent to the next bidder. Hopefully my motives for this are sound and good. Those who can relate know the constant struggle, the internal battle to "settle it once and for all.” Be honest, I don't think I am unique.
Again, I don't question the grand scheme of things; I just want to be truly authentic in not just what I believe, but in HOW I believe it. I want to get to know the real God, the real Savior. I want to put my struggles, those flash points of trial and tribulation in proper perspective.
This is the eternal struggle I know, one of the constant themes threading through our collective cultural and religious histories. One thing I think we understand is that many things shape our image of God - good and bad. What we've learned, our experiences, people in authority in our lives, the Bible; all ingredients that make up how we view God and how we view ourselves relating to him. Our perceptions are like glasses to the vision impaired. We see through the glass dimly, as Paul says in Corinthians.
So where does this lead us? Does it feel like you're dropped off at the bus stop, waiting for the next one but not seeing it? It does for me sometimes. And our perceptions that shape us are not just in the past. Present ones do too. Lost your job? Your career faltering? A key relationship in trouble? A health crisis? Do you battle with depression? And the flip side - if we go the other way with this, we can get a false image of God by putting too much on the good times in life, when things seem to be going great. Is that His blessing or do we just deserve it since we worked so hard to achieve it?
I ask a lot of questions, I know. The answer here might just be related to the relational. Yes, we are taught that God is relational, but he seems "out there" too much, right? But when I look at my relationship with the closest person I know (hint: she has red hair), I see someone I know quite well, but I also see mystery, things yet to be discovered; new horizons, new depths of meaning. New possibilities. Maybe that's the way it should be with our God.
As I am writing this, I hear God's voice. His message sounds like "I am here. I've never left you. Be patient. I will never forget you or lose you. Stick close. Seek me. There is so much more out there for us. Be patient, be patient."