If God is “everywhere” why can’t I find him?

When a first-grader poses that kind of naïve question it’s excusable due to their tender age. Problem is, too many otherwise “mature” grownups rely on that same query and its pretzel logic to explain why they don’t believe there’s a God at all. As if it’s God’s job to show up in person on their doorstep with credentials just to prove He’s real. Spiritually speaking, they’re still toddlers. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:11, When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became an adult, I set aside childish ways.” To say, “If I can’t see it or touch it I refuse to accept its authenticity,” is so infantile it’s embarrassing. Scientists now know for a fact that the combination of what they call dark matter and dark energy constitutes 95.1% of the total mass-energy content of the universe. Their calculations confirm that both of them positively have to be out there but nobody’s seen or touched either one. Thus, asking an astrophysicist the question, “If dark matter and dark energy are ‘everywhere’ why can’t I find them?” makes about as much sense.

An old joke goes like this: One night a guy who’d had ten too many was seen frantically looking for something under a street light. He was crawling around on his hands and knees while cursing like a sailor under his breath. A Good Samaritan walked up and offered to help him out. He asked the drunk, “What ‘cha looking for, buddy?” “My glasses. Can’t hardly see a thing without ‘em,” was the slurred response. They searched together for a few minutes to no avail. The man then asked the drunkard, “Are you sure this is where you had them on last?” The disheveled sot answered, “Of course not! Last I recall, I think I had ‘em on farther down the street.” This confused the man. He asked, “So… why aren’t we looking for your glasses down there?” The drunkard looked him in the eye and said, “Because, you idiot, the light’s a lot better up here. Duh!” Too many people sincere in their search for God insist on looking only where they want Him to be, not where He is and then complain when they can’t find Him.

Seems to me if there was no God we’d have no primal urge to look for Him. Yet history shows belief in some kind of deity is practically universal. In every era and in every culture, no matter how backwards or progressive the people were, evidence inevitably surfaces indicating they believed in God one way or another. The deeper archaeologists dig, the more they unearth proof that all ancient civilizations had one basic thing in common – they worshipped a power greater than themselves. Some bowed down to idols carved of wood or stone. Some presented offerings to various celestial bodies like the sun or moon. Some revered certain animals. Some glorified individuals who were designated as being “special” in their clan. Without the benefit of a palpable, in-person appearance by the Creator Himself, man has always been inclined to make up a God or a roster of Gods using their imagination as their guide and nothing was too odd to consider. But the bottom line is that most all human beings throughout time have believed that, in some shape or form, God does, indeed, exist.

Many abandon their pursuit of finding God out of frustration and label themselves an “agnostic” or “atheist,” dismissing all religions as wishful thinking. (I like this quote I came across from Arthur Lynch: “The only atheism is the denial of truth.”) However, as I alluded to in my previous essay, those folks go on to fill the gaping hole in their souls with some other deity. Their “god” becomes money, their career, a level of success to attain, their notoriety, their reputation, the number of sexual encounters they rack up, drugs or booze, their local professional sports team, etc. It seems men and women have to have a particular ideal to reach for (and sometimes even be willing to die for) whether it’s an allegiance to a sovereign nation, a political system or an ideological cause. Humans just can’t escape the deep-seated conviction that there’s something bigger, better and more worthwhile than simply getting by in life. When they fail to find the true God who created all there is, too many put their trust and faith in lesser gods and/or principles. Sadly, they end up disillusioned when their idols don’t deliver the desired levels of happiness and sense of purpose they anticipated receiving from them as a reward for their unwavering fidelity.

Finding God takes effort. We must muscle in and get our hands dirty. Dr. Larry Crabb wrote, “If we are to find God as He wants to be found, if we are to know Him in a way that frees us to live with joy and purpose and self-control, then we must not work primarily to solve our problems; we must rather cooperate with God’s work to disrupt and destroy this fallen structure.” There’s only one God, the One who made Adam and Eve. He instilled in them an irrepressible itch to have a relationship with Him and they passed it on to us. Only the great I AM can fulfill us. Jesus told us how to find Him in Mark 12:30 by quoting from Deuteronomy and Joshua; Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” In other words, when we give all we are to God He gives us all we’ll ever need. But, moreover, He wants us to get involved in what He’s doing.

God can’t be found using logic alone. Billy Graham wrote, “Although the wise person seeks God, we’ve seen that he doesn’t have the intellectual capacity to reason his way through to God.” That being the case we might develop a tendency to wonder, “Why bother to look?” The answer is that He’ll reveal Himself in ways that go far beyond our mental proclivities. I’m semi-smart but I’ll never understand how something can have no beginning or end even though the planet I live on is surrounded by a universe that stretches to forever in every direction. French physicist Blaise Pascal said, “A unit joined to infinity adds nothing to it any more than one foot added to infinite length. The finite is swallowed up by the infinite and becomes pure zero. So are our minds before God.” There are things I must accept on faith, starting with Genesis 1:1; “In the beginning God…” He created everything in existence out of nothing. If there’s no God, then there’s no me because I bear His image. Yet the difficult question remains. Taking my inherent restrictions into consideration, how am I, an ordinary mortal restricted by time and space, to go about gaining knowledge of my Heavenly Father who isn’t? Well, humility helps. Timothy Keller said, “How could you possibly know that no religion can see the whole truth unless you yourself have the superior, comprehensive knowledge of spiritual reality you just claimed that none of the religions have?”

Keep in mind God’s not the only mystery we’re confronted with. There are many things that continue to puzzle us. Gravity is one. It keeps everything from flying off into space yet nobody, including Newton who first brought it to our attention, has a clue as to why there aren’t some materials immune to its incessant pull. Nothing escapes its attraction. Take electricity. We’ve come to consider it vital as food and water but scientists still don’t know exactly what it is. Then there’s human reproduction. We’ve learned how to manipulate ova and sperm but we’re stumped as to how, once joined, they’re able to initiate life. We have yet to manufacture one living, viable cell. Chandra Wickramasinghe, a respected professor of applied mathematics, stated that the statistical probability of forming even a single enzyme, the building block of the gene, which is in turn the building block of the cell is 1 in 10 to the 40,000th power. That means it would take more attempts for the formation of one enzyme than there are atoms in all the stars of all the galaxies in the entire known universe! Can I get a “Wow!” on that tidbit?

Me? I’m still amazed my beautiful wife can throw together various ingredients, mix them in a bowl, stick the concoction in the oven and later bring out a delicious chocolate pie topped with fluffy meringue. I don’t have to understand what happened in the molecular or chemical realm in order to reap the tasty benefits. It is what it is and I’ll gladly accept it as such. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating we all adopt a sarcastic “whatever” attitude toward spiritual matters. It’s not my intention to diminish the importance of striving to find and know God. He’s a whole lot more complex than a dessert and infinitely more important. We must be able to defend our belief in His existence to skeptics and we often have to use at least a modicum of rationale to render our explanations relevant. One fundamental law of physics is that if something moves it had to be made to move by something else. Motion is the response of matter to power. For something to have power it must have life. Life, by default, presupposes a sentient being that creates that power. Otherwise nothing somehow causes something to happen. No way. Common sense also tells us nothing can be the cause of itself. That would infer it existed prior to its bringing itself into existence! The absurdity is obvious.

The planets, stars and galaxies parading though the cosmos are mindless objects yet they move in a coordinated, orderly manner like precision clockwork. It’s plain to see they didn’t spring into being by accident but rather by design because things lacking intelligence don’t behave intelligently. An omnipotent God has to have put the universe together, not dumb luck. Go with the odds on this one, folks. I look at it this way. God’s bigger than all our imaginations put together will ever be. If I could conclusively prove God exists to the point where all doubts disappear He’d be no greater than my limited, earthbound mind that’s offering that proof! Thus faith is the ultimate link between God and human beings. The Bible stresses there’s no getting around faith. Because of that our Father in heaven does all He can to encourage our faith through His willingness to meet us halfway as did the prodigal son’s dad. It didn’t matter that the boy thought he knew everything. His papa never stopped loving him. All it took to be reconciled was for the son to muster enough faith and courage to repent and go back home. God’s a fantastic father. Not all earthly parents are so forgiving, though. Some disown their offspring over disagreements or conflicting lifestyle choices, informing them they’re not to come home ever again. Some don’t even wait until a baby’s born to deny them the love and affection they need and that child most likely grows up having to deal with serious emotional issues. At Celebrate Recovery we find parental rejection to be at the heart of many character defects and we assure those who struggle with them that God Almighty is more than capable of assuming that role in their lives. Psalm 27:10 states, Even if my father and mother abandoned me, the Lord would take me in.” He has never forsaken man. You can take that to the bank.

When the first couple opted to defy God’s law in the Garden of Eden they ceased to have fellowship with the Father because their sin severed the line of direct communication. You see, holiness and sin are as incompatible with each other as light and darkness. They can’t exist in the same space together. What we must get through our thick skulls is that God is absolute holiness so there’s no room for anything unholy in His kingdom. He told the Israelites in Leviticus 19:2, “…You must be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.” Being holy, God is sickened by our evil ways. Our sins make us ugly in His sight. Yet, in spite of our indecent behavior and hubris, He continues to love us and yearns to see us come back home to Him. Understand that none of this putrid mess we’ve made down here surprises our Heavenly Father. He formulated a plan to restore fellowship with His children right after He told Adam and Eve, “…you will surely die (Genesis 2:17). Death was the penalty for disobeying His explicit command not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and God meant what He said. He’s not one to mince words, you know. The shame is that we really haven’t changed much since that infamous apple-eating episode so the wide gulf our sin opened between us and God still exists. And it breaks God’s heart for, as Brennan Manning wrote, “I believe His desire for you and me can best be described as a furious longing.” In Jeremiah 31:3 God tells us, I have loved you with an everlasting love. That is why I have continued to be faithful to you.” Malachi 1:2 succinctly states, “‘I have loved you,’ says the Lord.”

Every popular novel or play contains a certain amount of conflict. But even Dickens couldn’t have come up with a more powerful, intriguing plotline than the ongoing saga of God and His creatures. On one side there’s sinful men and women who’ve foolishly separated themselves from the Holy One who made them. God’s on the other side. Because of His holiness He couldn’t just wave His hand and forgive or render inconsequential mankind’s rebellion. Yet, because of His love, He couldn’t and wouldn’t give up on us, either. It’s the divine dilemma. How could God be just and, at the same time, the justifier? As Job asked, “…how can a human be just before God? (Job 9:2) Good question. But, as we learn from the Bible, nothing’s impossible with God. He made a way. It’s all rather incredible when you take it all in. C.S. Lewis wrote, “Reality, in fact, is usually something you couldn’t have guessed. That’s one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It’s a religion you couldn’t have guessed. If it offered us just the kind of universe we’d always expected, I should feel we were making it up. But, in fact, it’s not the sort of thing anyone would have made up. It has just that queer twist about it that real things have.”

If you’re anything like me you’ve probably wondered why God spoke so clearly to people like Abraham, Moses and the prophets while I’ve personally never heard a peep out of Him. What am I, a canned ham? Why the silent treatment? Of course, I’m being facetious. I know the answer already and His name is Jesus Christ. When His mission was completed and He announced, It is finished(John 19:30), there was nothing left to be said to any of us. We had all the truth we were ever going to require. God solved the problem once and for all. He now speaks to us not with words but through revelation. Revelation means “to make known” or “to unveil.” The revealer, of course, was Jesus. After Christ’s ascension to the right hand of the Father the Apostles were the recipients who wrote down or dictated to others what God communicated to them via the Holy Spirit. So, in essence, the Bible is our spiritual radio. If we leave it unplugged we’ll never hear a thing. Dr. Graham wrote, “In the revelation God established between Himself and us we can find a new dimension of living, but we must first ‘tune in.’”

Our Heavenly Father wants us to attain levels of fulfillment we’ve only dreamed of attaining. He desires us to know peace, satisfaction and joy as daily realities. His light never stops shining down on us. It’s we who step away, back into the darkness. God’s voice is beautiful. It’s we who turn a deaf ear to His sweet timbre. Come then, my beloved, my lovely one, come. For see, winter is past, the rains are over and gone. Flowers are appearing on the earth. The season of glad songs has come. …Come then, my beloved, my lovely one, come(The Song of Songs 2:10-13).   God exists and He sings His love song to us.

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