Monday, September 25, 2006

Closer to God

At the risk of alienating a percentage of my readers, (OK, reader) I’d like to say that I have always felt close to God.

For the last week or so I’ve been reading Michael Raiter’s Stirrings of the Soul. Apart from an interesting survey of Western spiritual topography (which might possibly include a church out past Dubbo) the book talks about people, even evangelical or ‘Bible-believing’ Christians yearning feeling spiritually ‘dry’, distant from God and yearning for a deeper, more spiritual experience of God.

It would come as no surprise to Evangelicalism’s critics that some Evangelicals have had enough Bible study and want to try something more touchy-feely. Evangelical Christians are sometimes characterised as unfeeling, dogmatic automatons who wouldn’t know a spiritual experience if it landed on their doorstep accompanied by a myriad singing angels. In fact, some people might say, if the angels did turn up they’d be likely to denounce them as being too Charismatic and go back inside to read the next chapter of Calvin’s Institutes.

But I’ve been an Evangelical Christian for as long as I can remember —well over 30 years now—and I’ve never felt distant from God. In fact I’ve found that the more I read, understand and know about God, the closer I feel to him. I even belong to a particular brand of Evangelicalism which is usually characterised as especially book-bound, dogmatic and unfeeling, but I’d have to say that I’ve always been very conscious that God’s love for me, and more so as I’ve learned more about him.

I’m wondering if all this spiritual distance comes about because we take God for granted. We forget or even suppress the truth that we only exist because of God. We forget that it’s his breath in us that gets us out of bed and on the train every morning.

You don’t have to go far in the Bible before you’ve got plenty to thank God for: The world we live in, the beautiful animals, plants and lands, our family, our friends and so on, and so on, and so on. I haven’t even got off the first page and I’m already awestruck by my Father’s love and care for me and I haven’t even begun to think about him sending Jesus to die for me.

Admittedly I live in Australia (which, even if it isn’t God’s own country, is pretty close to it) where we have peace and prosperity and I have plenty to thank God for. But even when times have been much bleaker than they are now, God has always been there, a very present help in trouble. And I know, because Jesus died for me and because the Bible tells me so, that he will always love me.