When God Isn’t There
Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for in him we live and move and have our being. Acts 17:27-28
I’ve had several times in my life when God seemed to be absent. I was in distress. I needed his help. I prayed . . . and I got nothing. Where was he? Why didn’t he answer?
In my addiction, I prayed repeatedly for God to remove my self-destructive appetite. When he didn’t, I became disillusioned. Perhaps he didn’t care. Maybe he wasn’t even there. Or possibly I simply wasn’t saying the right magical words. That last possibility is the closest to the truth, because it at least points the blame towards me. Over the years, I’ve had to accept that if it’s God or me that isn’t doing something right, it’s invariably me.
In looking back at all those times when I thought God was absent, I now realize it was because I wasn’t truly looking for him. I told myself I was searching for him, but I was still seeking myself and my own will. In my addiction, I wanted him to take away the appetite so I could get my life back. That’s not a bad thing, but I remained unwilling to do anything to change my life. I just wanted the easy way out and I thought God was my magical ticket. I wasn’t truly seeking him though. I was seeking my way, which didn’t have much to do with faith or recovery. In looking to my will, I couldn’t see God. Then, I blamed him for it. Where were you?
In today’s passage, Paul said that God is always near. We live, breath, and exist only in him. Whether or not we see, feel, or realize that, is largely up to us. When we’re completely focused on pursuing ourselves and our way, we have little ability to comprehend God’s presence. We might claim that we’re praying for him to be with us, but when we pray only for our way, that’s not really seeking God. When we’re focused on our will, we walk away from God, talk at him over our shoulder, and then wonder why we’re getting farther away from him.
When God isn’t there, it’s usually because we’re facing the wrong way. If we truly want to see, feel, and know him, then daily, we must choose to abandon our way and turn to him. When we truly turn around, we’ll find he was there all along.