So often people say things like, if I could only see God, I’d believe, or why isn’t God more obvious if He is a personal Creator?
These questions, hopefully asked with good motive by those earnestly seeking truth and sometimes spitefully asked by deniers and doubters, are not original, but have been asked by many people throughout history. In an age where it seems that atheism and agnosticism is running high, this question is asked a lot. Perhaps framed in different ways, but still asked.
Where is God?
All I need is proof.
Just let me see something that will absolutely confirm his existence and I will believe.
In his Screwtape Letters C.S. Lewis answered the question (Where is God– Is He hiding) this way:
He wants us then to learn to walk and must therefore take away his hand.
I have given much thought to that statement and come to this conclusion, which isn’t really some super intellectual conclusion but a simple yet profound one: If God were to reveal himself in the way so many want him to (namely by doing a miracle that cannot be explained away or by actually speaking from heaven or by revealing himself in the clouds), it would no longer be faith.
I believe Lewis is right. God, by revealing himself through creation (which I think is obvious enough), in the lives of others, and through His Word, can and sometimes has taken away his hand, and is trying to get us to walk, particularly to him and with him.
If you are a mom or dad, or if you are not just think of yours, how do you teach a child to walk. There comes a point in time where you have to take a step back, but not completely forsaking. You don’t just completely leave the room. You just move back. Close enough to where you can reach out to save them from a dastardly fall.
The same goes for God. He has not completely abandoned His people, or this world. He has revealed himself through Christ. He is revealing Himself through Scripture. He is active in the miracles being performed daily throughout the world. He is alive and doing a great work in the hearts of those who believe. Yet, He just takes a step back, and allows us to learn to walk. By just being a step away, he is personal, good, and caring. It is apparent we fall and fumble, but God is there to lean in and save and lavish us with grace and mercy. He is calling us to Himself. He desires us to be in fellowship and communion with him.
Here are 3 possibilities to consider when people say God is “hidden” from them:
1) He really isn’t hidden. He has already revealed himself to them, and these “seekers” are oblivious (spiritual aspect). From Scripture we know that the heavens declare the glory of God, He has written His law on our hearts (so we can discern right from wrong), He has revealed Himself through the person of Jesus Christ, He transforms the lives of people around us, etc. We have many things that we can point to to say that God isn’t a “hidden” or “distant” Being, but a personal one. One that creates, governs, cares and saves. We can wake up and see the sun rise and watch a river flow and see the intricacies in the design of creation. For some of these “seekers,” they are not aware. Perhaps they have become numb to the wonder and awesomeness of life and creation or they are missing the trees for the forest, or is it the forest for the trees; no, they are missing everything because they don’t know what to look for – must be looking down at the dirt. OR it could be that the Holy Spirit isn’t drawing them, opening their eyes to see His splendor (Holy Spirit must draw- Jn 6:44, 63-65). Both of those are related to spiritual blindness / sinfulness (hardness of heart). Or perhaps God hasn’t revealed Himself in the manner in which they like. Nevertheless, this doesn’t discount the reality that God, on a daily basis, is making Himself known to billions of people through Scripture, creation, and in the lives of people.
2) He seems “hidden” to some because they aren’t really looking for Him (fleshly aspect). Some of the folks who say they are looking for God are really not. Not to be cynical, but this could be their way of justifying non-belief or skepticism, or it could be that they really don’t care, but for some reason they say they do (peer pressure to fit in, appeasing their conscious, parents, spouse, etc). Deuteronomy 4.29, 1 Chronicles 28.9, and Hebrews 11.6 tells us that those who seek Him will find Him. Romans 10.20 tells us that God even shows Himself to those who do not seek Him nor ask for Him. This seeking has to be done in accord with the Holy Spirit because, due to our sinfulness, we do not seek God on our own (Romans 3.11). Anyway, if you are looking, you’ll find God, who is everywhere and in all sorts of situations doing redemptive and transforming work bringing glory to His name.
3) He is never hidden but in some circumstances He takes a step back. This is Lewis’ point. There could be a multitude of reasons for why God “steps back” from a situation. Depending on the context it could be to strengthen a believer; to cause a person to turn back to Him by getting them to see their inability to do and to deal with life apart from Him; to make us more appreciative of His grace and blessing by sometimes having to remove or withhold some grace or blessing; to get us to run to Him, to create a kind of dependency, to see our need for Him: to lean upon Him, as Lewis suggests with his illustration.
Remedy: Prayer, seek solid spiritual counsel, continually read Scripture, and pay attention. Real. Close. Attention.
He is calling us to Himself.
He is like the father who watches us lean and sway as we try to walk.
He scoops us up when we fall and dusts us off.
He is very present. Near. Personal.
He makes His presence known at just the right time.