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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Just because you can’t see God, Doesn’t mean He’s not there

"Raccoons at Sunrise" (that last drink of water before sleep) 16x20 acrylic on canvas
From my bedroom window, I watched three raccoons shimmy head first down a live oak tree. Since it was barely dusk, I figured they were foraging early. At first glance, I thought they were large house cats; but three together? When their ringed tails and bandit eyes appeared in the ebbing twilight, I was blown away!

I often walk or sit under that tree. The squirrels amuse me as they chase each other’s tails. Blue jays screech from time to time, and playful goldfinches proffer a twinkling counterpoint in the bright sunlight. I’ve seen brown thrashers, loggerhead shrikes, and pileated woodpeckers in those gnarled branches. I’ve watched red-tailed hawks perch and search for prey within a hairs breadth from where I’m standing. But I never imagined there were wild raccoons sleeping in furry balls right over my head. How could I have missed them?

The world is full of hidden treasures all around us, and miracles and wonders from God. Just because we can’t see them, doesn’t mean they’re not there.

Bill Maher, a comedian and avowed atheist doesn’t believe in either religion or God. He holds tightly to his beliefs. Perhaps he’s afraid that if he lets go of his skepticism, he might find out he’s wrong?

For believers, God is real. He has answered their prayers and spoken to their hearts. To deny this reality would be to disavow their personal and private experience. This personal witness becomes a sure foundation of knowledge that cannot be denied.

Maher is like a child who sits before a plate of Brussels sprouts and declares he doesn’t like them, even though he’s never tasted them. Then he hides the evidence of their existence under his plate or under a nearby lettuce leaf and tells his mother (and everyone else) that the Brussels sprouts don’t exist because he (and you) can’t see them.

To a Christian, Maher’s position is both immature and foolish; like my story of the raccoons: “Just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they’re not up there.” This is where that invisible component called “faith” comes in. Why is it so hard to believe that God exists when evidence of his creations are all around us?  Is Evolution really a substantial explanation for our existence or is it still, after many decades, only a theory, an excuse, a crutch, for non-believers?

"Brown Thrasher" 16x20 acrylic on canvas in barnwood frame
Technology has advanced in quantum leaps over the past 30 years. Today transmitters communicate around the globe and into outer space, yet they are so small you can hold them in the palm of your hand or on a fingertip; some are even microscopic. These electronic devices may look naive and primitive fifty years from now as newer, smaller, faster, and smarter gadgets replace them. It’s simply a matter of time, degree and intelligence.

During the day, you can’t see the stars, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there. Conversely, on a stormy day the sun’s light is blotted out, but its radiance still exists and glows continually in spite of the weather. God’s radiance and reality are constant and eternal, in spite of our darkened imperfect minds and man-made barriers.

"Looking over the Salt Lake valley from Immigration Canyon"
How foolish we are as humans to deny the existence of God because we cannot see him, because we don’t understand his ways, or because we can’t find physical evidence or proof that he is real; even though countless miracles happen every day in the realms of nature, science, medicine and personal encounter.

“But there’s a logical, scientific explanation for everything,” some may counter. And when there isn’t, science is all too eager to supply one, or at least a theory of rhetorical possibilities. We’ve lost that childlike quality of trusting divine truth and promise. The young child who leaps off of a ledge into the waiting arms of his or her father exercises this trust through love, knowledge, and personal experience. He or she has learned that their earthly father can be trusted.

We need this kind of faith again in our world to bring back God into our hearts. It’s a “letting go” of pride, bitterness, and stubbornness; character attributes that harden our hearts and close our minds to truth.

"Looking back across the causeway that bridges the Great Salt Lake, between Antelope Island and the city."
In “Our Daily Bread,” a Christian pamphlet produced monthly by RBC Ministries, the following story was included in the October 9 reading:

“If we’re not careful, we may become like the man who prided himself on being an expert archer. The secret to his success was that after he shot his arrow at the side of a barn, he painted a bull’s-eye around the arrow.”

Many people are so eager to be right, or so hungry for success and notoriety that they paint a ring around their own favorite causes, special interests or personal agendas and then proclaim that they’ve hit the bull’s-eye of truth.

Proverbs 14:12 tells us: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”
"Barn Swallows" on Antelope Island outside the Gift Shop"
God doesn’t need to prove his existence to us; it is we who need to conform to his will. He is the bull’s-eye we should aim for, not some delusional man-made target created by people who think they are smarter than God.