Have you ever had the feeling nothing exists outside of the physical world you live in?
While I was in college nearly 20 years ago I hit a place like that, a place that Psalm 63 calls “A dry and weary land where there is no water.” I went for two years wondering if God exists. If he did, why was he letting me wander around without any sense of his presence?
I grew up with Christian parents, my dad was a pastor, and I had just spent a year at a Bible college studying Greek and learning about God.
Why was this happening to me? What was happening to me?
I cried. A lot.
I read the Psalms constantly. I could identify (I still do sometimes) with a David who yelled at God about his pain and then thanked him for his gifts, who raged that his enemies’ children should be dashed to pieces and then submitted to God’s will.
I wondered if Abraham felt like this when he went for years and years without hearing from God.
Then, as suddenly as that time arrived for me, it was gone.
It sounds eerie and hokey-pokey, but that’s what happened. One evening I was crying my eyes out and the next morning I was at peace and I somehow knew God was real and was with me.
I had made it through.
If you are in the middle of a spiritual vacuum and feel more like railing at your pain and difficulties than thanking God for his gifts, I understand.
Now, 20 years and lots of reflection later, here are six steps to help you find your way.
- Begin. Make a mental and heart decision to pursue God. It is not an emotional decision such as, “Do I feel like finding out if God exists and cares?” No, it is a practical one coming out of your core: “I will . . . and want to begin . . . somehow.”
- Ask. Ask God to reveal himself to you. Whether you believe it or not, God has been pursuing you since before the beginning of time. If you seek him out, he will find you.
- Look. Once you have begun your journey and have asked God to reveal himself, look for him. Ask yourself, “Is this God speaking to me?” It may seem weird at first (perhaps you shouldn’t say that out loud in the middle of a staff meeting), but you have to retrain your eyes and heart to see what you have never seen before.
- Continue. Don’t decide after a day or a week or a month that you are done looking for God and asking him to speak to you. First, I doubt you will go very long without seeing God at work in some subtle way. Second, do you think that you will learn how to see and experience God overnight? Give it time. Be patient, as difficult as that may be in your situation.
- Trust. This is the hardest part. In the middle of pain or a spiritual vacuum the hardest thing is trusting that God cares and is near to you. He is. He just may not show up the way you expected him to. And why should he? He’s God, and completely not human.
What story can you share about how you found God?