Why I Believe God Exists: Part 2



Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God...

No explanation of God's origin. 

No indication that He felt obligated to explain His existence.

Hebrews 11:6 Without faith, it is impossible to please Him [God]; for he that comes to God must believe that He is [that He exists]...

Every argument for or against the existence of God is circular. That means the logic goes in circles but never arrives at a definitive "yes" or "no."

And believe it or not, that's exactly how God wants it.

He wants us to be left with clues, with hints, with indications that something greater than ourselves is going on in the universe. He put in His creation indelible fingerprints of His majesty and wisdom that can be seen by all people in all ages of all nations and languages.

Yet sometimes He seems distant, useless, inept, indifferent, or even non-existent.

We have expectations for God. We expect Him to behave a certain way, to respond a certain way, and to treat us a certain way. When God deviates from our expectations, we get angry and start to question if He's even there.

That's where I was around 1995.

I suppose you could call this the age of "self-actualization." It's when kids start seeing themselves in the context of the real world. They start understanding how things work. They learn that their family, their school, their church, and their community is just one tiny little blip on the enormous tapestry that we call humanity.

I began comparing my life to the lives of others. I started analyzing, questioning, and digging to find out if all that stuff I learned as a kid was real. Maybe it was all just "kid stuff." After all, we have made a societal habit of lying to children and justifying it with "believing" and "hope" and "magic."

So maybe Christianity fell into those categories with Santa Claus, Easter bunnies, and tooth fairies.

The timing was interesting, since 1994 is when my Christian parents decided they didn't want to be married anymore. Then I watched the beautiful process of divorce hearings and child custody battles ensue. I spoke with counselors that asked me why my brother and I couldn't be in the same room for longer than three minutes without screaming at each other (we're friends now FYI). 

From my perspective, life wasn't just peachy. The best place I could find to go was sports, school, and friends.

In sports, I found lots of people who cared very little for God or even claimed He didn't exist. In school I found lots of "Christian" kids that lied, cheated, and stole just like everyone else. Sure, there were good Christian kids there too; but they were rare. Statistically speaking, they were negligible exceptions.

I'm being descriptive here because I want to paint a picture of where I was. Many people find themselves in this position. The "Christian" world they expected to exist is flimsy, fake, or falling apart. The non-Christian world surrounding them seems confident, strong, and full of fun.

I bought it.

I indulged in the non-Christian world. I learned the philosophy, the language, the music, the entertainment, and all about how to fill that hole inside me.

Man, it was fun.

You weren't expecting that, were you?

It was fun until I laid my head down to sleep at night and felt alone. It was fun until I realized that every night was just another phony distraction from the fact that I was missing something real.

The satisfaction that I sought in Christianity eluded me. I thought I could find it in secularism, but it wasn't there either.

This brings me to the first reason why I believe God exists:

#1 Personal Encounters

I have never seen God face-to-face (though I plan to). I have never heard an audible voice or had a vision of Heaven. The personal encounters I'm talking about are answered prayers and kept promises.

Luke 19:10 For the Son of man [Jesus] is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

The Bible is saturated with explanations of how God seeks those who are wandering and hopeless. He finds those who are empty and dissatisfied with this world. He runs to the hurting and the weak. He sets His affection on those who are confused and blinded.

He came after me.

Answered Prayers:

I did not see a lake divided and walk across it on dry ground. I did not see fire fall from Heaven. I did not see a man raised from the dead.

But keep in mind, if I had, and I were telling you about it on this blog, you wouldn't believe me.

My proof came in a more personal way. It was prayers to Him in the solitude of my own mind--prayers that nobody heard except God and me. My prayers often included admission of weakness and emptiness that I was embarrassed to verbalize to a person. I told Him, and He heard me.

I know He heard me because He answered my prayers. I asked Him to give me understanding to replace confusion. In the years since then, He has done that.

I asked Him to replace emptiness with fulfillment.

I asked Him to show me what He was really like, not just what a few people said He was like.

I asked Him to give me direction in my life.

I asked Him for someone to love me (a wife).

I asked Him to protect me and provide for me.

I asked Him for peace in my heart to replace that ever-present burning to do more, get more, have more to satisfy that abyss in the center of my soul. 

You can call it coincidence, but all of those things have been provided to me by Him. 

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Kept Promises:

From 1995-2001, I lived in a state of denial. I hadn't seen the answers to my prayers yet. I hadn't experienced God's faithfulness. And I was harboring a good bit of anger and distaste toward "all that Christian nonsense."

Sure, I went to church because I was told to; but I hated it. I listened to my Dad talk about the Bible, but I couldn't wait to leave the room. All that Christian information was floating around in my head, but I treated it like whimsical nonsense.

During those years of distaste for Christianity, I did and said a lot of shameful things--things I knew would make God upset. I did them anyway. 

I figured if He couldn't keep His end of the bargain (as I saw it), then I didn't need to be good and follow a bunch of stupid rules that were enacted by old people that just wanted to inflict pain because their own lives were in shambles.

In the midst of my sarcastic criticism of God and His inability to operate the world, He still stuck with me. He loved me, and He was orchestrating things for my benefit.

Hebrews 13:5 For He [God] has said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." [Quotes added]

After experiencing His faithfulness while I was acting like a spoiled brat, I started taking Him more seriously. I started talking to Him more and asking Him for help. 

As I did, I noticed something pretty awesome. He hadn't given up on me. I was not excluded from His blessing. He was not going to hold me accountable for all those stupid things I did.

Sure, there were some consequences--natural consequences; but the condemnation and anger wasn't there. Actually, quite the contrary. It was open arms that I found--arms waiting for me.

That's really dramatic and borderline emotionalism, right? Perhaps. But that's how I felt. And that's still how I feel. I didn't get to be in God's family because of me. I didn't meet a list of expectations or earn a high grade on an exam.

Nope.

Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us...

So God answered my prayers and He kept His promises to me. This was a great starting point for me. He helped me out of the hole I had dug for myself. He was faithful and good.

But I still had more questions.

[Continued in Part 3]

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