Finding the Life We’ve Been Looking For

By Keith Miller | February 2, 2010

Keith, I keep running into people who can’t seem to believe there really is a God—and honestly I don’t know if I do. These scientists are almost making fun of people who believe that God is real!  And if God is real, they ask, how can he change the basic character of people who believe in him?  Could you help me with this?

Grapeleaves

This is an excellent time to be asking those questions.  With regard to the reality of God—think about all the brilliant men and women who have claimed that they have had a relationship with God (e.g. C. S. Lewis, St. Francis, Luther, Augustine, Martin Luther King, Jr. and scientists like Blaise Pascal, not to mention all the men and women who were not writers but the witness of whose lives changed the generations in which they lived.  They wouldn’t all have to be right for there to be a God who interacts with people—if only one person in all of history was right about having a personal relationship with God, then God is real, and interactive.

There are all kinds of philosophical arguments for and against the hypothesis that God is real, but Christianity is about a God who has a “personality,” that is, a God who can be “known.”  And the New Testament makes the claim that if a person wants to know if God is real, the only way that person can know is to take the hypothesis that God is real and commit his or her life to God and to the discovering and doing of God’s will in that person’s whole life.

I understand that you are saying to take God that seriously is to take a big risk.  And of course that is true.  But even scientists have to take risks and face rejection sometimes when they take an idea and assume that it is true (when they take a hypothesis) and then scientists (and people on spiritual journeys) make experiments in the real world to see if the idea holds up in relation to things and situations the scientist already believes are true.

So how would you prove for yourself that God is real?

When I came to that place in my life, I was frightened.  I was afraid that if God were real and I surrendered my real life to God and to trying to live according to the principles attributed to God, then God might change me into some sort of pious religious nut that my family and friends wouldn’t want to be with.

But when I finally decided I had to know if God were real, and surrendered my life, my future, to God, that was when I began to realize that the life that God offers people who are in relation to him was the life I’d always been trying to find, to discover by becoming successful and prominent somehow.

A long time ago, a wise Christian told me that God doesn’t change us into something that we are not already.  Rather the truth is that we have almost from birth been adding unreal things to our lives, personal characteristics.  For instance, I tried to appear to be a strong, self-confident Western male—stronger and smarter than I really was.  It was as if I was wearing life like a suit two sizes too large, hoping I’d grow into it.

When I decided to surrender my whole life to God as I saw God revealed in the Biblical story, and began to do the disciplines of prayer and helping other people in ways I felt God would want me to do those things, it was more like taking old ill-fitting clothes off and discarding them.  Because I didn’t need the exaggerated characteristics in order to feel that I was enough.

As I met some strong beautiful Christians with integrity and humility, I realized that what God offers to do for me is not to transform me into something I never have been but rather to help me remove things I and the culture I live in have added to my natural self that I had used to cover up, to hide the person God made me to be.  And the unconscious fear of being revealed as the imperfect person I really am, tainted all my relationships—particularly my close relationships.

So the big news for me is that when I am being the loving child that God designed me to be, I am free not to hide or pretend to be more than I am.  And that means that I could learn to be myself and risk being rejected when I set out to become the authentic human being who was in one sense always inside me, waiting to get free enough to live and be happy being who and what I am.

That’s why I began to learn how to write as a vocation and finally left the oil exploration business—not because the oil exploration business is evil somehow, but because I was a writer hiding inside the life of an oil business entrepreneur.  This has not been an easy or trouble free journey, and may not be one that you should take.  But I thank God every day that I decided to trust God in this way.

It’s a long trip to the Beginning—clear back to Square One.

Lord, thank you that we already have everything we need to be the people you designed us to be.  Help us to learn how to remove the extra characteristics we have “put on” trying to be happy and successful, and to gradually discover and, where appropriate, reveal ourselves the way you meant for us to be.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

“For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.”

Matthew 18:2-5, The Message

Note: For a clear account of what actually happened when Keith made this beginning in his everyday life as a husband, father, and young business executive see the newly republished The Taste of New Wine.

Topics: Christian Living, Weekly Devotional | Comments Off on Finding the Life We’ve Been Looking For
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