What is it that people don’t get about God? Why do they see God as a magic trick or an imaginary friend? Why do they think of believers as chumps? Why are the words “believers” and “freethinkers” opposites?
I can’t ever not remember believing in God. I have always known of God. If faith is believing in things not seen then yes I have faith – because I have not seen God but I still know He’s real. I hear Him. I feel His presence. I know He listens to my prayers. But just because my eyes don’t perceive Him doesn’t mean I don’t know of His reality.
Now, to clarify, I don’t see God as a Him or a Her. God is the Creator. God is above gender. God doesn’t need anything or anyone else to create. But our language doesn’t have a third person singular designation for something that is genderless other than “it” and that word just doesn’t have the weight and presence I feel is needed when talking about the Creator. And as to the term “God” – it is a descriptive. I remember someone getting very angry with me and saying “He has a name!” Yes. But which one? “I am that I am,” or “I am” or “YHWH” or “Yahweh” or “Jehovah” or “The God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Israel”? Our Jewish friends feel it is rude to say the name of God. They will write “G_d” or they will say words like “Hashem” which means “The Name.” The Arabs have 99 names for God, which really describe His qualities. God is Love – that is an appropriate name too.
I know is that it is comforting to know that I am not driving the bus. I am not in charge. Something larger than me has it all worked out. My goal is to get closer and closer to this Creator and align myself with Him. I remember having some rune stones when I was younger and one of the explanations for a particular rune was “I will to will Thy will.” I think that sums it up well. I’ve heard it is better to want what you get rather than to get what you want.
I’m OK with the idea of not doing something “right”. I’m ok with “messing up”. I’m ok with it not coming out like I thought it would. Because that too is part of the plan. “All things work together for good for those who follow God,” so the apostle Paul tells us. All things. Even the stuff you don’t think is OK. Judas was filling his role when he betrayed Jesus. He wasn’t in his right mind. It was as if he was possessed. And then, he came to. When he realized what he had done he killed himself. But his actions were prophesied by the prophet Isaiah. Betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver. It had to happen that way. So even “bad” has to happen. Sometimes it is our need to define a situation as “bad” or “good” that becomes a problem in itself.
I used to feel really self-conscious about what I feel is my calling. I first heard the voice of God at 12 while standing in my back yard in Chattanooga. What I heard I would do has perturbed and confused me for the rest of my life so far. It doesn’t even seem possible. It doesn’t make sense. Adding to it – I’m bipolar. I was diagnosed at 30, but I had the first signs of it at 17. I’ve talked to psychiatrists who were also priests (that’s a trick to find) to see if that was a sign of the disease. You know what I mean. Lilly Tomlin tells us that if God talks to us, we are crazy. This is what society says. Yet we take seriously the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Noah, Isaiah, and Moses talking with God face to face. We don’t even question that it happened. So why can’t this happen to us, now? These stories should be considered blueprints – not myths. Here’s how you know that God is calling you. Listen. It isn’t just a story.
Samuel lived in a time where God hadn’t spoken in a while. He had to be taught what to do in that situation. “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening,” is what he was told to say the next time he heard his name called out by God. Perhaps we need to say this. Perhaps we need to stop talking so much. Perhaps we need to turn off the talk radio and the reality TV and put down the latest thriller novel. Perhaps we don’t do this because we are afraid of what we might hear.
I think we would rather sleepwalk through our lives than hear God’s voice. And we don’t even have to hear it to know what to do. We have the Bible to tell us.
There was a homeless guy from Poland named Bogdam who had sort of moved into the post office that is in my neighborhood. He was very pleasant and about 60 years old. He seemed content. I had made a point of talking with him every time I saw him. One day I had picked up supper for myself at Captain D’s and was on my way home. The post office was on the way, and I started thinking about Bogdam. I prayed – God, should I give him my supper? Send me a sign. And instantly the answer was – you have a sign. You have the whole of the Gospel telling you to “feed my sheep”. You don’t need anything else. Of course give him your supper.
So perhaps we don’t often hear the voice of God because we ignore the message we already have with us. We know what to do. Now it is time to take it seriously.