Sometimes I struggle with reality. Know what I mean? It's not that I'm hallucinating or anything like that. And I have never used mind-altering substances, even without inhaling. Yet I struggle. It's not that reality is hard to take, though the shape the world's in isn't very encouraging. The problem is in knowing what is reality: What's really real?
My problem is wondering if my idea of what it means to know God and follow Jesus is all just wishful thinking. Am I just off in Loonieland, all by myself?
Or is it really the case that there is a God who want me to know him as he knows me? I don't mean just paying lip service or the superficial claptrap that passes for "spiritual" talk so often in modern society. I mean is there a supremely powerful God who wants me to really know him, and not have just a superficial acquaintance?
That appears to me as the case. It seems to me that God went to astonishing lengths - still does, I suppose - to make himself known. And it seems clear that God's first intent with Adam and Eve was a loving, transparent, community relationship. No fear, no conflict, only honesty and enjoyment of each other.
To say it didn't work well is the understatement of all time. But its initial success is irrelevant to the fact that it was and remains God's goal.
I believe with every fiber of my being that God seeks intimacy and transparency with us.
But if I am right, why do so few others reach the same conclusion? It seems like such a truth would be earth shaking, something that would compel a radical change in any life. It seems like such knowledge would result in our expending every effort to know this God. How could we not be utterly transfixed by such a thing as being friends with God? Yet, most people - overt pagans, default pagans and professing Christians alike - go about their lives with little or no consideration of God. They live a life focused on self, and on satisfying their own perceived "needs" and wants. They live like there's no end.
Maybe I'm just whacked. I don't know.
On the other hand, it seems like, if I am seeing reality, I could reasonably expect God to speak to me. After all, a silent relationship might be fine if I could neither speak nor hear, or if my spirit were utterly insensitive, but none of these things is true. And yet, I hear nothing. My ears hear nothing. My spirit hears nothing. What to do?
I am thinking just now of the "dark night of the soul" and the anguish written of by so many through history, from the writing prophets of scripture to King David. From medieval mystics to ordinary people of my own generation.
Many have felt God's absence. Many have felt without purpose, drifted aimlessly, and wondered what life was about. Many have cried out - raged, even - to the silent God.
It doesn't help.
Am I crazy? Am I imagining? Did God - assuming there really is such - really choose me, or is the alternative just more than I can accept, and I have dreamed up this whole God thing? My life has not been one reflecting "chosenness." I have made a mess of things, over and again. There is not today much about me that suggests God's call on me.
And yet I have long longed to know him, to serve him, to teach others to know him. And it seems like nobody gets it. Nobody cares. Well, perhaps not nobody, but very few. If it were a test, the grade would be a failing one, with no doubt.
My life passes rapidly. Only yesterday I was 16, barely passing high school, with no idea what life was about, but despite that, was well thought of in my church. Today, I am 66, have three college degrees - two with honors - and would not be missed if I left my church. And I think, all in all, I still have little understanding of what life is about.
So, did God really call me? Does he have a purpose for my life? Or am I imagining?