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Searching for God

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 I had a relative named Sue. She had an IQ over 160. She was beautiful and talented. And she contracted a terrible cancer that slowly destroyed her body. She died angry – at God, her family and the world. Who would care for her daughter when she was gone? Why did she have to suffer? It didn…
By Seth Barnes

 I had a relative named Sue. She had an IQ over 160. She was beautiful and talented. And she contracted a terrible cancer that slowly destroyed her body.

She died angry – at God, her family and the world. Who would care for her daughter when she was gone? Why did she have to suffer? It didn’t make sense. She refused even to see her mother. The world was irretrievably broken for her.

Sue’s story is a sledgehammer to the gut. Despair is all that remained for her. All we family members can do is stagger backwards, wheezing and gasping in shock. It calls into question our belief in a good God who gives us happy endings. It causes us to look at our lives.

We are on a Journey

As humans, we are born travelers, journeying through life – inhabiting a physical body and then ultimately being forced to discard it.

The idea that we’re on a journey scandalizes the comfort-seeking settler in all of us. We walk a path of our own blazing. It may be similar in its twists and turns to a billion other paths, but it is uniquely our own – it can’t be shared.

As I reflect on my own journey, if I’m honest, it often feels scary. My path feels like it borders a cliff. Sometimes my mortality feels terrifying. I watch people caught in cycles of pain. I see ISIS executing children. I see people crying out to God and, tiring of what seems like a game of cat and mouse, giving up on him. 

Connecting with God 

It’s not easy being human. Like Doubting Thomas, I want evidence. I want a set of buttons to push that will get me to God. I can identify with the desperation of the prophets of Baal who, in the contest with Elijah, jump around, tearing their clothes. 

We all sense that there is more to life than we’ve experienced and we go searching for it. Some of us give up the search, concluding that “this is all there is.”  

Ultimately, this search is for all of us a lonely one in the same way that death is a lonely experience. We climb a ladder that leads to death and what lies beyond. In old age, we stand teetering on the top rung while those following us watch in fascination, in the same way that we all gape and rubber neck at a bad traffic accident. 

Living Numb

We recoil at the finality of death. We dread wrestling with our mortality. We look for anything that would touch the loneliness of each man or woman’s struggle with it. And many of us conclude that it’s better to live numb than to experience the existential ache that our humanity invites.  

We crowd out that feeling in a hundred different ways. Mostly through noise: We live absorbed in our iPhones, following the local news, sucked into a steady stream of Facebook and Youtube moments that drown out the conversation about death and eternity and God.

If our days are filled with activities and noise, we can push aside the questions, “Is there something more? Is there a God and does he love me? Does my life matter?”

Questions like these pop up in the silence that we abhor. Better to fill our days with noise than to invite a conversation that may take us into painful places.

Feeling Desperate

Elijah’s taunts to the prophets of Baal are great black humor, “Where is your god? Call him louder; maybe he’s sitting on the toilet!”

Who hasn’t felt that kind of desperation at some point? Is God simply being whimsical? Our needs seem so urgent, so huge. In contrast, his purposes can seem so abstract, so inscrutable.

Yet when he comes through in the clutch for us as he did for Elijah, we’re elated and filled with new faith. 

Periodically as I walk through life, I encounter God in a tangible way. He speaks to me. I see him connect with others. He heals them. He sets them free. And my spirit responds, “Yes! There is hope! This path does lead to God!” 

We were made to connect

What are we to make of such a God? 

I have seen enough of the supernatural that my default position is to trust God and give him the benefit of the doubt. Others may find his healing of one person but not another to be capricious. They may doubt his goodness.

I have experienced enough of his goodness that I am a believer. I have connected with a personal God and have seen that faith wins out over cynicism. 

Yes, this makes me an oddball. Everything in my being seems to resist the test of faith that ultimately draws me nearer to God. Although I see reason as a gift, I’m OK setting it aside when I see the gap that only faith will bridge.

I want to live a bold, gallant life, but too often I live mired in details. Often I reconcile myself to wandering in what seems like a spiritual fog. Waiting for sunlight to break through. I say to myself, “Forget gallant; just don’t let me screw it up too badly.”

But despite my frailty or God’s apparent distance, I keep searching. As humans carrying eternity within us, what else can we do?

We Live Best When We Search Hard

We were made for romance and connection of all kinds. Wanting to live well, we instinctively search for it. We live best when we search hard.

The connection between the divine and the mortal may be complicated, but it’s in our hard-wiring, it is what we were made for. 

Where are you in your search for God? Have you allowed life’s noise and the constant flow of activity to distract you? Perhaps the pain you’ve suffered has caused you to want to give up. Perhaps God’s apparent silence has discouraged you.

Each of us must struggle to find God for ourselves – it’s a process as old as history. Isaiah encouraged us in his day, “Seek God while he’s here to be found,” he said.

Wherever you are, it’s a good day to consider that God may indeed be found. He’s looking for us to connect even more than we’re looking for him.

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