Finding God

An old friend of mine told me that I “need” to find God . . . and I don’t even see this guy but maybe a couple times a year anymore! 

But I knew my friend was right. 

I seem to have misplaced God somewhere along the way in my life. 

I’m not quite sure where or when I did this, but I know I did, because I can’t seem to get in touch with Him like I used to do.

So that’s my New Year’s Resolution for this coming Year Of Our Lord Two Thousand Twenty Three. 

Find God.

It shouldn’t be that hard to find God, . . . should it?

After all, He’s everywhere . . . or so we’re told by the theologians. 

But for all His omnipresence, I’ve only bumped into God on occasion in all the time I’ve known Him . . . and usually that really hurts. 

But at least the pain lets you know that you’re not just imagining things. 

I had one such particularly memorable encounter with God some thirteen or so years ago when Karen’s mother was dying.

I won’t describe things in detail, because I don’t want anyone reading this to guess the identities of the people involved or, even worse, guess wrongly.  Suffice it to say that for the first, and so far only, time in my life, I viscerally hated some people personally. 

I felt so wronged by these people that I literally didn’t care if the people I hated burned in Hell! 

And I also knew at the time that my own soul was in danger of that same damnation . . . and I didn’t care about that either. 

Yet, somewhere in the farthest away place inside of me someone cried, “God, please help me.” 

But I heard and felt and sensed nothing. 

I was alone because Karen was with her mother seven hours away by car and I felt damned alone in our house that was in shambles because of some remodeling that we were doing while Karen was away.

I fell asleep like that, still silently crying on my inside.

I slept fitfully, but I did actually sleep some that night.  But each time I awoke, the hate was still there, still burning hot, hot as hell. 

“Jesus!” I prayed in my heart. “Please SAVE ME!”

Before I awoke, I dreamed of my mother-in-law, Evelyn, who lay in her bed hundreds of miles away dying of a cancer that had spread throughout her body.  In my dream, she was sitting in her living room chair with family gathered around her for the little house church service that we all had enjoyed together only some hours before I had had to return home to an empty house having left my wife there to care for her mother.  

My mother-in-law had answered someone’s question at the conclusion of our service just that yesterday morning about if she’d had any words of wisdom she wanted to share with us. 

After a moment’s pause, Evelyn said, “Just love one another.  When you have upsets or things that come between you . . . pray about it . . . talk about it . . . do something to restore a peaceful relationship between you.” 

And then I awoke, and it was time to get up and go to work.  I knew what had just happened, and so I said, “Thank you, Jesus!” 

But I really didn’t feel any different.

Then I remembered that I had saved some physical evidence of the wrongs I’d recently suffered in the form of hateful voicemails left on my cell phone, and the verse from the Bible came to my memory about how love keeps no record of wrongdoing. 

So I destroyed the evidence. 

This was especially hard for a careful lawyer like me to do.  I literally had to ask God to help me press “Delete” on those voicemail recordings.

But when I did, I felt forgiven . . . and free!

When I checked my e-mails later that morning, a young mother whom Karen and I love like our own daughter had sent me the entire audio recording of a sermon that her father, a layman, had recently delivered in his church on the sin of bitterness. 

Basically, our friend’s father showed how in the Bible bitterness is presented as our own sin that we must confess to God, repent from, and dig out of our hearts as many times as we discern even the tiniest root still present before it can grow and kill us. 

No sermon ever saved my soul as did that one that day. 

I have it saved on my computer for the reminder I still sometimes need. Because even a speck off the root of bitterness . . . which I’ve sometimes found still in me on occasion . . . is deadly.

One of the last things Rich Mullins ever wrote in this life was a desperate prayer song to the God he loves and could not always find.

“I can’t see how You’re leading me unless You’ve led me here to where I’m lost enough to let myself be led.
And so You’ve been here all along, I guess. It’s just Your ways, and You are just plain hard to get.”

By God’s grace, this year I intend to find Him again wherever it is He is hiding in my heart. 

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