Reality or imagination?

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.

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?

4 Comments

Dear Mr. Baden,

I read your article with great respect for the way you have opened up your thoughts. Whether to provoke minds or really get an answer,much respect. Baden, upon reading your deep thouhgts, I am very tempted to run into giving you bible refs and a span of personal experiences that have brought me to a place of knowing beyond the shadow of doubt that God really does exist and desires a relationship with each one of us. I am equally tempted to give you Theological explanations to the questions you have at the moment. But that's not what you need because no doubt you've heard these before. What you need right now Mr. Baden is "a now word". And I will be bold enough to give it to you. It is not by accident I stumbled on your post today. I was busy studyng Church History and wnated to look up something, and there was your post. In normal circumstances, I would not have read it,but for some reason, I did. I have no reason to believe that you've not encountered God Mr. Baden, you have. In a 101 ways, your spirit recalls moments that are beyond explanation and only God can put his name to them. So my task at this point is to affirm to you what you already know and are begining to doubt. God does really exist. God does really love you and everybody else wo may be asking similar questions, God is still in control of this out-of-control-world. And most important of all, God has a purpose and plan for your life. He has been working that plan in you since you breathed the air of planet earth. Times you were close to him and times you were far from him, he was still working that plan. And the fact that you are still breathing is proof that that plan is not done yet. It's very easy to get caried away with thinking that our effectiveness as God's viable conduits has to be acclaimed by man, because we have grown so accustomed to praise and ackolades. But God's plan succeeds whether man applaudes it or not. Remember the greatest miracle is regeneration(of the spirit) and making man to "believe and receive" the good news of Christ, that is what you have no doubt attained. And if I can be allowed to sound calvinistic, this is a moment for you to hang on and persevere to the end. I will end with the scripture Deuteronomy 28:28....He keeps the secrets, but what he reveals is for all of us and our children. I pray you see God today Mr. Baren. I pray he reveals himself to you in a way that will leave for ever in awe and unshakable confidence that HE IS.

God bless.

Gabby,

Thanks for the comment. Very interesting and encouraging.

To Me;
It sounds like you are on the right track,
or should I say the straight and narrow path.
I also have constant cravings for God. Perhaps
you are being called into more than just a
Friendly Relationship with God. Maybe you are being called to that ONENESS Jesus prayed for
in John 17.
I think I do know how you feel because I can never seem to apprehend Him. Sometimes I feel like I can hardly stand it because I cannot seem
to get close enough.
But I do believe that is the way of calling us near.
God Bless You.
Doug

Doug,

Oneness is a pretty good way to describe it. It seems that God's heart for us is a level of intimacy with him that goes beyond what we generally consider. But the very thought gives a lot of people the heebie-jeebies, some theologically, but more often emotionally. We're not sure we want to get that close to an unpredictable, uncontrolable God. Might be dangerous. Might be scary. Might be wonderful.

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  • Larry Baden said:
      Doug, Oneness is a pretty good way to describe it. It seems that God'...
  • Douglas Gilmore said:
      To Me; It sounds like you are on the right track, or should I say the ...
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      Gabby, Thanks for the comment. Very interesting and encouraging....
  • GabbyGP said:
      Dear Mr. Baden, I read your article with great respect for the way yo...

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