That may seem like a strange question, but in the final analysis it is the most important question of our lives. You can feel free to substitute whatever word you are most comfortable with for the word “God” in that question – Allah, Great Spirit, the Divine, the Transcendent, the Universe, or any other. The question remains the most important question we could ever ask – and the most necessary. Most of us don’t ask that question often enough, and I believe we don’t ask it because it takes a fair amount of time to ask the question and to wait for an answer.
We need to ask it because the question provides a balance to our ego, which constantly screams for attention and seeks to direct our lives. When I hear people talking about life decisions and life changes only in the context of what they want I become very concerned because the perspective of the individual is very limited indeed, and psychologically tends to be completely self interested. Not unlike a toddler grabbing things and screaming “MINE!”, the ego tends to reject anything that is the least bit uncomfortable or that stretches us into growing in any way. Asking where God is in all of this forces us to listen to another perspective – and that perspective is always broader than our own.
Some of you are skeptical at this point, and I can’t blame you. We have all seen examples of people who have projected their own hair brained ideas onto God and announced that God told them to do something stupid. There are some guidelines to follow to guard against this kind of abuse of power. The first is that God is not a computer. You don’t simply ask God a question and get an immediate response as if God were sitting on the edge of a chair just waiting for you to ask your question. God speaks to us through the still, small voice within and hearing that voice is a process that requires discernment, not a task calling for haste. The interesting thing about a process is that it requires frequent attention. One doesn’t run around in an active frenzy never taking time to listen to that still small voice within and then expect it to suddenly provide an answer on demand.
When the first opportunity arose to take a teenager who had no place to go into our home that still small voice within asked me a question. The question was, “You talk a good game, but can you practice what you preach?” That question didn’t come out of the dark. It was the fruit of a process of self examination and reflection. The second, third, and fourth time we were confronted with the same question I already knew where God was in this – God was in the child at the door.
In my work in the Church and society I frequently encounter people who are absorbed with “Me, Mine, and My.” They talk about my ministry, what’s best for me, and the things they have accomplished with a sense of possessiveness – mine. In reality, nothing except my body and what is discharged from it are mine. Even the things we create, once they are finished and made public, are no longer ours. Why then would we look at the world around us and act on it as if we owned it?
Why? – because we don’t know where God is in all of this, or because we are too fear based to turn anything over to anyone – even God. From our fear comes a need to control, and from control comes a need to squash everything that frightens us. Frankly, Scarlett, we don’t give a damn where God is because God always calls us out of ourselves into a broader perspective and that scares the hell out of us.
Here’s the news flash – you came into this world naked and you will go out of it in the same condition. All the me, mine, and my in the world won’t change that one bit. What remains after we are gone are those moments when we stepped into the places where we find God active and present in every corner of our lives and act in a way that is informed by that presence. All the rest is self deception.