I watch the branches sway and the leaves flutter. I can’t see the wind, but I know it’s there. I watch people laugh together, help each other, and love one another. I can’t see God, but I know He’s there.
To believe in anything requires faith. God will never be proved by science. Our human science can only measure what can be seen, heard, felt. The existence of God, like love, is something that can’t be objectively measured. Either you put faith that there is more to the world than you can directly observe, or you put your faith in the idea that what we can measure is all that exists. In the end, it all comes down to faith. I don’t write this to inspire debate about the existence of God. Any debates will ultimately go in a circle and arrive at the same conclusion. Either you believe in things you can’t see, or you don’t. This is my personal testimony as to why I believe in the existence of God.
I could start by talking of the majestic grandeur of the mountains, the exquisite beauty of sunsets, or the overwhelming vastness of the oceans. All the beauty in our world is evidence enough to have faith in a Creator. But then, there’s the human being. Where do I even begin? Our intelligence and ability to create is extraordinary. As I sit here and type this, I know with one click of a button that this article will be available to be read BY THE WHOLE WORLD! That just blows my mind. Another thing that blows my mind: Skype. I mean, you do realize that we can see and talk instantaneously with somebody living on the other side of the planet, right? That is AMAZING. I just can’t believe that our incredible intelligence that gives us the ability to create all these amazing things happened by some cosmic accident.
All of that doesn’t even compare to our capacity to love. If there were no purpose, no meaning, no God, then why love? Why do people sacrifice their lives for others? If our lives just happened by randomness, why would you even care if you saw someone suffering in the streets? I believe the evolutionist would argue that back in the day when we were half-apes, we developed this because community was essential to our physical survival. Once again, it comes down to where you put your faith. You can believe that we love because a loving God created us, or you can believe it evolved to be there. Or you can be like some people and believe love doesn’t exist at all. For me, I’ll take the former.
These things don’t even begin to scratch the surface of the wonder of our creation. One day, I was sitting at Starbucks, pen in hand, ready to write something. I prayed and as I wrote, out came a torrent of questions:
Who is it that causes the thoughts to flow to your hand? To write words that flow together and make sense? A bunch of scribbles on a page form a pattern. Why does it have meaning? Why is music beautiful? How does a bunch of loud noises come together to form a pattern that inspires?
If we were created from chaos, then why is there so much order? If everything is random, why is it that we long for meaning? If it’s all about survival of the fittest, why do we love art? Why do we find things beautiful at all? We could get all intellectual and start tramping out all these scientific theories and studies to attempt to answer these questions. But we would be ignoring the simplest explanation: that we were created this way.
While taking a walk today, I noticed all the trees. I thought it crazy that these tall strong trees started from a tiny seed. That is a miracle. A seed is planted, a little bit of water falls from the sky, the sun shines a little bit, time passes, and abra cadabra, TREE!! What!? Our life-filled world is absolutely miraculous.
I don’t know much about the science of trees. I think they grow by some sort of cell division process. But what causes the cells to divide? If there’s a reason for that, then what causes the reason for the cells to divide? Then if there’s a reason for that, what causes the reason for the reason for the cells to divide. Down that rabbit hole we go until there is a “we don’t know yet.” Then if they find the answer to that, then what causes that ? See! Miracle!
I think it’s funny that the more science studies the observable world, the more complicated it becomes. It seems that for every answer we find, there are hundreds of new questions. Science is great at finding answers but not THE answer. It keeps searching for “why/how does this happen?” but the answer to that always leads to another question. To think that in an invisible force might be at work in all this doesn’t take a huge leap of faith at all. In fact, it might be the only thing that makes logical sense.
So what caused the first thing? One of the ironclad rules in science is the law of cause and effect. Everything that happens was caused by something. As we go back in time to the creation of the universe, we arrive at a quandary. Either something randomly appeared from nothing (an impossibility), or there is something eternal that caused the first thing to happen. In other words, there has to be something unbound by time that exists.
I am purposefully writing this without using any biblical references. You don’t need a text to tell you God exists, you just need to take a look around. There are countless reasons to believe. Ultimately though, the reason I believe can’t be put into words. When my mind is quiet and all is still, everything becomes crystal clear.
I am in the silence. I am always present. I am in the place where there are no words. I am in the stillness. There you will find me. Quiet your heart. Quiet your mind. Quiet your soul. Only through the emptiness can I fill you up.
It seems almost everybody has done this at one point in their lives. Picked up a pen, stared at a blank piece of paper and asked themselves “what do I want to do before I die?” I certainly have, a couple times I believe, and usually end up losing the list. Not that it matters much, since my desires and dreams change as I get older. It occurred to me, somewhere in the middle of reading a section of the Bible, skimming through The Essential Gandhi, and reading a chapter in the book Uncommon by Tony Dungy, that what matters more than that list is the “HOW do I want to LIVE before I die?” list. You can accomplish everything you put on your doing list and still live an unsatisfactory life because you failed to define HOW you wanted to live your life. So I made a list. This is how I want to live my life:
Make love and service of others #1 priority
Follow God and the dreams he sets within me
Stand for what’s right, even if alone
Give best effort without worrying if it results in success or failure
Jump! Take risks! Be free!
Be confident in who I am
Be myself and don’t be concerned with what other people think about me
Always be honest and act with integrity
“own” nothing and feel entitled to nothing
Give freely and happily (see above)
Hide nothing, be open
I feel like I fall far short on a lot of the things on this list, but that’s not the point. The point is, regardless of what I DO in my life, this is who I want to BE. I think it’s important to keep this in mind so you don’t sacrifice who you want to be for what you want to do.
For when the One Great Scorer comes to write against your name,
he writes not that you won or lost, but how you played the game.
All the fast, sleek Greyhounds assemble at the starting line. They all covet the same thing. They are looking to retrieve the rabbit that lies in front of them. Saliva drips down from their mouths as they dream about their tasty prize. They are blinded by their greed and fail to notice the truth. They will not catch what they seek.
I am an American. Ever since I was little, my society has told me what was important. Life is about accumulating more and more it told me. That it the American dream. You haven’t made it unless you own a big house with a guest room, a 50 inch flat screen TV, leather sofas, a laptop, a blackberry, an I-pod shuffle, and another 50 inch flat screen TV, you know, for the guest room.
Some might call that a stereotype, but it’s really not that far off. Maybe your thing isn’t televisions. Maybe your thing is hiking. I am guilty of owning 6 packs, 3 sleeping bags, several pairs of hiking shoes, a dozen cool-max shirts, more than a dozen pairs of hiking socks, 3 fleece hats, and 5 pairs of long underwear that I don’t think I’ve ever worn before. While some of those things were gifts, I have bought many items I didn’t need because they were “on sale.” Guess what? If you don’t need something, and it’s on sale, YOU STILL DON’T NEED IT!
That is the image of success in America. Owning more stuff. Indian revolutionary Mohandas K. Gandhi would call that robbery. “Possession seems to me to be a crime, I can only possess certain things when I know that others who also want to possess similar things are able to do so. But we know…such a thing is an impossibility. Therefore, the only thing that can be possessed by all is non-possession, not to have anything whatsoever. Or…a willing surrender…” [i]
Not to possess anything? If you’re like me, you are attempting to discount this statement or rationalize it in some way to make YOU seem not as selfish. The problem is, deep down, you know he is right. It’s not right when a millionaire lives in an 8 bedroom mansion monstrosity when on the other side of town, another man is forced to sleep under nothing but a box. It’s not right when a man driving a Mercedes with gold rims can drive past a homeless man begging for food. The common argument is that the millionaire or the Mercedes owner worked harder to reach their “status.” That may be so, but it still doesn’t make it right that they should be so selfish to excessively spend “their” resources on themselves while the poor suffer needlessly nearby.
Gandhi’s method of non-possession is about more than striving for equality. It is a transformation of the heart and mind. It is about getting the proper perspective of your place in the world and breaking the egocentric mindset of “my” and “mine.” We are all going to die someday, and we will not be able to take any materialistic possessions with us to the grave. On that day will the car you drive be “yours?” On that day will you be able to call the house you live in “mine?” No, they will belong to God, to the world, as they always have and always will. Scientists believe that our solar system has existed for over 4.5 billion years. If you live to see your 100th birthday, you will have lived on Earth for only .000000045% of its existence. Taken in that context, the thought that somebody could have the arrogance to call anything “theirs” is almost laughable.
Nevertheless, this idea is a tough sell in our culture. You work hard, you make money, you buy something, and then you OWN it. It’s “yours.” Why is it yours? Because you “earned” it. That logic is accepted without question and it turns what could have been selfless service into a selfish sense of entitlement.
Famous Behavioral Psychologist B.F. Skinner might reason that external rewards (money) are necessary to keep people working and society moving. It’s like rewarding your dog with a treat when he performs a trick. The problem with this is that it turns free people into slaves of reward. People no longer do things because they feel inspired to do it, but because they feel they HAVE to do it to receive the reward at the end. After they get one thing, they want another thing. It turns into a never ending cycle like a greyhound race where the dog chases an artificial rabbit around a track. No matter how fast he runs, the exhausted pooch never does catch his rabbit. Likewise, I believe that is where the path leads for those of us wanting more and more. No matter how much stuff we accumulate in our materialistic race, we will ultimately fail to catch what we are seeking.
Not surprisingly, the More Mentality can lead to a lot of unhappy people and America is full of them. People hate their jobs but they slave away anyway because they feel it’s the only way they can make a decent living. This leads us to the question: Do people hate their jobs because they just do or do they hate their job because they feel enslaved to it?
External rewards have a way of eclipsing the soul force of a person. Psychologists would call this decreasing a person’s intrinsic motivation. Next time you’re at a park, watch a little child go down a slide. They get so excited, they are beaming. They yell out one of those delightful screams that can’t help but make you smile. They go down the slide not because of some reward they receive at the end. The act of going down the slide is the reward! I believe in that moment you catch a glimpse of that child’s soul. Now imagine a parent starts paying that child to go down the slide. Will they still enjoy it the same way? Once the parent stopped payment, I doubt that child would have much use for slides anymore.
Imagine for a second that we lived in a world in which everybody adopted Gandhi’s method of non-possession. There would be no worries of theft because everything would belong to everybody. People would consume only what they needed. The concept of external reward would not exist. In this world, free of the slavery of money, I believe people would live with the joy of a child on a slide…their soul on full display. Unfortunately, changing the hearts of 6.5 billion people is no easy task. But if every last one of us made a sincere sacrifice to regard nothing as our own, I believe that world would be inevitable.
This idealistic vision may seem impossible. But it starts with just one person giving up one thing. Anybody can do that.