Each week, we will be releasing one of the student blog posts from the Thinking Series Online Course that we find excellent. This week, we share with you a post written by Ryan Newman.
Desperately searching for something out there greater than myself, I found myself alone in the dark one chill winter evening. Thoughts raced through my head as I considered, doubted, my faith. I was tired of the numb, empty feeling of despair. My questions were tearing me apart: Why doesn’t God just reveal himself to me? Why can’t I find him? What am I doing wrong? I thought that all I really wanted was tangible proof. I wanted God to show up at my doorstep, assure me that he is real, and then go back to doing whatever he needed to do. Would that be so hard for an all-powerful God?
Søren Kierkegaard’s parable of the king and the peasant maiden strikes me as I continue to wrestle with this idea. The love-struck king must reduce himself to the level of the peasant maiden if he is to genuinely win her love. His overwhelming presence would be too much for the poor girl if he were to reveal himself in all his might and power; she would be unable to decline his proposal. Kierkegaard’s example demonstrates that honest love cannot be coerced or forced. Perhaps, then, God appears to remain hidden because he so desperately wants us to choose him. And, interestingly enough, we are able to make that choice because he did lower himself to our level. He sent his son, Jesus, to demonstrate that his love is far deeper than we can imagine. The pieces of the puzzle come together when we realize that God has, in fact, made himself known.
Not surprisingly, this idea aligns with Jesus’ teaching about the meaning of life in Mark 12. He gets right to the point when he claims that the greatest commandments are to love God and love others. According to Jesus, the meaning of life exists in relationships. As Kierkegaard demonstrated, loving relationships are only possible if the greater being becomes reduced to existing on the level of the lesser being. That’s exactly what God did. He came to us, incarnate, so that we might find meaning through relationship with him.
How might one, then, explain my impatient questioning of God? Looking back, I am able to note that my desire to meet God at my doorstep came from a place of fear and doubt. I was afraid of what the implications would be if he did not accommodate my narrow requests. I doubted God’s existence because I was, in fact, trying to take his place. I wanted him to submit to my desires and requests. Ultimately, the selfishness of my heart surfaces as I look back to that time in my life. Considering Jesus’ teaching reminds me that we are relationally made beings. Furthering the relationship that one is able to have with the creator of the universe is a far more productive endeavor than waiting around for God to accommodate silly requests.
Thank God that he has made himself known. We are not left in the dark; we simply need to be willing to look for the light.