A Different Way of Seeing

By Keith Miller | November 15, 2010

Since so many scientists and educators and psychologists are atheists, how can I believe it’s possible to have a personal relationship with God?  People who don’t believe in God point out how stupid some people are who say they do believe.  How can I re-think about this?  (Surely all the people who believe in God can’t be wrong.)

Another good question.

Some years ago a wise man told me:  if all the millions of brilliant and spiritually sensitive people of integrity who claimed they had an intimate personal relationship were wrongexcept one, then it would be true that a person can have an intimate personal relationship with God. Then, since it would be possible, if even one had such a relationship the question would change to how can I have an intimate personal relationship with God? (Since at least one person does.)

As I read about and later met some outstanding and loving people whose lives seemed to have a solid calm foundation in reality, I asked some of them how they began that personal relationship with God.  Some said they had believed since childhood but hadn’t ever considered that an intimate ongoing relationship with God would be a reality until they met someone who really believed in God who also cared about them.  Encountering these people was profoundly life-changing.

Other people said they had turned to God when their “planned” lives had hit bottom or at least they felt powerless to overcome the fears and facts of their lives on their own.  And in one way or another the pain of life led them to places where they decided to surrender—however little that surrender was at the time.  But for them that willingness to surrender to God created the open door through which they could take a step toward God, who—in some way they did not understand—met them and made them sense the safety of God’s presence enough that they could continue the journey with God.

But however the first willingness came about, God became real enough that the people making that first step began to pray, to try to do what they felt God wanted them to.  And they were led to other people on the same spiritual journey into which the new person had stepped.

And from that simple willingness to believe and trust, a whole new way to live began to unfold—a world in which there was One to take the fears and failures and receive the gratitude for the joys and ‘learnings’ that began to unfold.

Each person’s journey to faith is unique like each person’s experiences of falling in love or having a child or facing fear, rejection and disappointment are different, unique in some way.  But all these experiences can be transformed by God.  Failures become ways to learn, fears become occasions to give God the only thing we really have to give God:  the gift of faith and trust.

And for me over the past half century, I feel as if I had become ready for some kind of spiritual cataract surgery.  Everything that happens to me now is part of the adventure of living and learning how to love God, other people and even myself as his child who wants to become all God wants me to become.

And this very different way of seeing all of life is part of the adventure God is giving me to live—one day, one minute at a time. And all I can tell you is that this Way has already changed my experience of everyone in my life—including you.

And so I continue to try to face and confess my sins of controlling people, situations and outcomes, I am living in a world that looks safer and more welcoming than the anxious world I came from with its imperious need to change people, places and things to suit my insatiable wants.

Why don’t I think this life of faith is a delusion?  Because I catch myself living in a more honest, loving and less selfish way as time goes on.  And as a person who studied psychology and theology, I believe that these experiences are much more reality-oriented and healthy from a scientific point of view than the tight fearful focusing on myself and my wants, always trying to convince other people to do what I thought they should, and using other people to get what I want.

And at 83, although I am still only a growing child inside (after almost 60 years of becoming willing to trust that God is real and trying to surrender my life to him), I am happier and more connected to the wonder of loving God and other people with whom God has sent me.  So in my case, I’d be a fool not to believe that a personal relationship with a loving, mentoring God is real.

Dear Lord, if you are not real, you don’t have to send any atheists to warn me.  I’m afraid I wouldn’t believe them now, since you have been with me in so many unlikely ways and transformed my experience of living so profoundly by your love and caring guidance that now I know my job is not to outsmart them but just to love them—the way you‘ve loved me.  Thank you very much.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

“Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other…   Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.” (2 Cor. 5:16, 20, The Message)

“By faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God. Your baptism in Christ was not just washing you up for a fresh start. It also involved dressing you in an adult faith wardrobe—Christ’s life, the fulfillment of God’s original promise.”  (Galatians 3:25, The Message)

4 comments | Add One

  1. Deedra - 11/16/2010 at 9:16 am

    Thank you for continuing to be transformed. Your words and insights have been life changing for me.

  2. James Ochoa - 11/16/2010 at 9:21 am

    Thank you for giving me the gift of stopping time in this hectic chaotic world to consider my relationship with God as I understand God. I am a born and raised Catholic who left that faith for the hypocrisy I witnessed yet can now see God was there hidden from my view. I then became a man who found God in 12 step recovery before my conversion to Judaism where I found community and relationship in religion again. And in Judaism I discovered all I wanted to know was in the questions I could ask openly as a Jew. Thank you Keith for living your path so openly so that I have reference to one who strives to find his relationship with God as I do.

  3. Sarah Wilcher - 11/16/2010 at 1:31 pm

    I consider you a spritual mentor and we have never met. I am so grateful that you willingly share your journey with others. I will gladly share this blog with others.
    May peace and joy surround you today.

  4. Keith Miller - 11/18/2010 at 9:34 am

    Thank you Sarah. When we finish writing the book we are co-authoring I may start doing some traveling and speaking again. My prayers come with this for you.

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