I understand why a person wouldn’t believe in God. When I’m sitting by myself, with no distractive force of media removing me from my own thoughts, I get worried that I’m alone. The world is moving along at the same speed as it has since it was put in motion at a second I have no memory of. The world in all probability will continue to move around that same lazy ellipse without fail until I leave this place. My parents and my friends didn’t tell stories about where we go so I have no real belief about an afterlife.
Throughout my schooling, I did get some feedback from the science teachers. They weren’t too encouraging since all they told me about was entropy. That’s a great way for a kid to grow up. Tell them as they get older, things will have less energy and will all go haywire. The values they then start forming are all about getting what you can as soon as you can because, well, you know, it’s all deteriorating.
Maybe that’s why I enjoyed deconstructing things. I’d take apart clocks, toys, plants, even poke a little at a dead animal to see what it was made of. Explosions were a more dramatic way to take things apart. A destructive bent seemed to be the emotional state that resounded with my lack of a cultural story to build things. I felt like I was at least helping to further the way of the universe which was one existential crumbling reality.
The shell of the inability to reach out and be something or find a Meaning in pleasure was limiting my life. I blamed life for not giving me life. I couldn’t blame God because I really didn’t believe in something that wasn’t a participant in my life or had been a participant in lives that I grew up around. Other people didn't promise much. Those that did were telling acceptable fibs for a career.
You don't have a real godI heard what the religious folks would say about how to act and what to do, but why should I believe that they had anything of value and meaning? They don’t really testify to a God who has any power so it must just be a traditionally repeated set of phrases and not a real God. Real gods enter in to our lives and create awe and wonder. Real gods command respect. Real gods are not measurable.
When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What do the testimonies and the statutes and the judgments mean which the LORD our God commanded you?’ Deut 6:20
How do you reply to that question “Do you believe in God?” It’s a tricky one when you’re asked in polite company. You can say you do and what you do, meaning that you traditionally have been told stories about God and how to act. You remember the stories from seeing the movies. You probably think that those other almost fictional ancient people had a real belief. You can distance yourself from them enough to be able to say that you believe what they did and not get into a deep discussion.
Remember what God did
You notice what the first thing you think about when you try to figure out what you believe? It’s what experiences you had that make you remember. A great movie effect will stay in your mind for a while until the next impressive digital effect makes it look like a stuffed gorilla on a scale model of the Empire State Building. Then every effect after that takes away from any meaningful experience that you are having because they become less memorable when compared side by side.
then you shall say to your son, ‘We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and the LORD brought us from Egypt with a mighty hand. ‘Moreover, the LORD showed great and distressing signs and wonders before our eyes against Egypt, Pharaoh and all his household; Deut 6:21-22
But what if the effect is not just an effect but an action with meaning? When a simple action of giving up your seat on a bus for a person that should have it when you could ignore the moment, or when you look a person in the eye and shake their hand with a firm grip, it stays in their head. The importance is the context of the situation with a determination to create a stronger relationship. I remember a generous warmth from an understanding manager allowing a passionate high school kid, who should have been home instead, to see their second theater’s foreign film without paying. I don’t remember the films.
He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, to give us the land which He had sworn to our fathers.’ “So the LORD commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today. Deut 6:23-24
So it is with a simple gesture, it is with a sweep of a historic meaning. A relationship is strengthened and therefore remembered. But the story needs to be told and the participants recognized and celebrated. From one person to the next when a personal kindness is offered, and from one generation to the next when a nation is affected, the meaning is carried on. The memories are created, the symbols are significant. We respect them.
God always has meaningful results
I can understand why a person wouldn’t believe in God, but I cannot understand why a person who knows what God did through a nation's history and then can see in their life a guiding hand to be able to read these words, would not believe that our Lord God has power beyond what science can put in a formula. A film is but a powerless idea that has found a way to trick your mind for the 90 minutes it has your attention. It leaves a hollow memory that movie fans try to extend through appropriate fashion branding and toy icons.
The interactions with God's hand you want on your life are memories of encounters so real that you don’t say “it was like I was in a movie.” You've seen too many movies and not enough reality if that happens. When His compassionate hand has directed your steps as you obey Him and you see the positive results, you know that it can’t be a special effect. He is completely reliable and just in his rule as a real God. His result is always meaningful.
“It will be therefore to our merit before the Lord our God to observe faithfully this whole Instruction, as He has commanded us.” Deut 6:25So, let us leave our youthful shallow understanding of this world driven by godless facts and superficial meanings. Teach us, Lord God, to serve you so that you deliver our vindication in blessings. Help us to learn to bless others with stories of your strength and goodness from times past and from the present. And may the path of our feet always follow the light you shine.