How can I know God is? How can I know the world makes sense? How can I know there is purpose in living? How can I know?
These are the questions of all of us. When we seek for an answer to them, where shall we look?
Look out at the vastness of things. See the stars blossoming like the unfolding petals of a rose and you sense the moving order that rules the depths of space. Look at the least blade of grass – out of sunlight and water and air, it makes new life! – and you sense the inconceivable intelligence that works in the least of things.
And more than intelligence! If we could get at the heart of things, a heart is what we would find-something much more like heart than mind, much more like love than law, much more like beauty than reason.
Take rainbows, for example. There is a reason for rain, but not for a rainbow. The universe would operate as efficiently without one, only not so beautifully, that is all. Only the spirit of divine delight could have conceived rainbows, the same Spirit that made butterflies-those flowers with wings! And indeed all the infinite, outpouring , heaped-up, overflowing variety of things bursting the seams of the world makes me know absolutely that something is at work here so alive that life is too weak a word to describe it.
The Spirit of God is not just life, not just intelligence. It is sheer exuberance, the love of joy in living! It never makes two blades of grass alike. It crowds every crack with growing things and space with universes.
Clouds form and dissolve, birds sing, insects rise, leaves tremble, flowers unfold-all is change, activity, livingness. You may be part of this livingness. The universe is a web, beautifully woven; its threads spiraling out, linking every living thing, even every atom, so intimately so perfectly that no least thread, no least point at the perimeter, can be touched, but the whole web vibrates in harmony. You can be one with this oneness of things. You need not be little and alone, isolated and meaningless. You are part of life.
One with life, you loose your sense of separateness, your sense of self. No bird flies, but your thought takes flight; no bird sings, but a song is in your heart. You are brother to the fly and cousin to the cricket. You are as much a part of life as a cloud is part of the air. Who shall say where cloud ends and air begins? At its edges, it is some of both. At your edges, you are part of all that is, part of the livingness of life.
In the infinite flux of life, there is no separateness; there is only wholeness-only the many faces of the One. Give yourself to living, and you will find meaning, for you will be one with the One life.
Where shall you look to see God?
Look at yourself. Do you see a mortal, flesh and blood creature? That is not what I see when I look at you. I see a spiritual being. Why do I think you are spiritual? For one thing, because you have to live as if you were.
If we know what makes a creature happy, we know its true nature. To be happy, a swallow must fly. So we say it is a bird of flight. To be happy, a thrush must sing. So we say that it is a songbird. To be happy, a person must try to satisfy spiritual desires. What else then can we say, save that a person is Spirit!
If man were a mortal, flesh-and-blood creature with only physical needs to satisfy, then a life spent in satisfying these needs should be the most satisfactory of lives. But it is the least satisfactory. Something in you is more than flesh-and-blood. Something in you is wings. Something in you is song. Something in you is Spirit.
What are the longings of your heart, the aspirations of your mind? Consider them well, for they reveal the pattern in which you were formed. They are the voice of your true Self, demanding expression. For this, you were formed before Abraham was! And all the forces of heaven and Earth combine to bring this true pattern in you to fruition.
There is something in you that tells you you were meant for more than all you have achieved, no matter what that may be, something in you that will be satisfied with nothing less than greatness. I t may settle for less, but it is not satisfied. It may be covered over with years of dusty mediocrity, of compromise and resignation to necessity. But it is there.
Something in you is Spirit, and it hungers and thirsts after spiritual things – righteousness, usefulness, selflessness. It is not content merely to live; it has to live well!
You are more than body, more than mind. These may be altered, but there is something in you that cannot be altered. It is immortal. It is incorruptible. How do I know that this is there? Because I have caught glimpses of it. I have looked with loves eyes.
Sometimes we think we would believe if only we had a sign. "Give me a revelation, God!" We cry, "O Lord, let pass a miracle!"
This I believe: anyone who sincerely asks for signs will have signs. Pray, pray steadfastly, and you will have prayers answered.
But do not seek for God to show Himself in supernatural ways and forget that He is constantly showing Himself in natural ways. God is the unusual, no doubt; but God is usual too. Do not seek the burning bush and miss the bushes glowing with bloom in your own backyard. Do not look for God in the heavens and pass God by in your neighbour without speaking.
Do you seek a miracle? What is more miracle than morning, when the light comes streaming back to Earth? Or spring, when death is overcome by every greening clod? A star is a miracle, and it is closest to you of all that is. You are a miracle. Every moment of your life is packed with miracles.
It is all right to ask for signs, but to build on signs is to build on sands, for it is to build on appearances. We have to go deeper than appearances, even good appearances; else the first adversity will sweep our faith away. We cannot much of a faith on the fact that we happen to be having a comfortable, pain-free existence.
But there is knowledge of God, there is faith in life that has nothing to do with appearances. For fundamentally, God and life are not something we know with our brain but in our bones, in the very morrow of our bones, the morrow of our spirit. I do not need to convince the hare that bursts from my feet and bounds quickly away that life is good. He knows. He may be wet and cold and alone and shelterless and hungry, yet he knows. Every frantic leap he makes is a living affirmation of life.
The hare knows – deep down so do we all – that one moment of life is worth infinitely more than all non-life (if such there could be) in the world. If eternity had no other meaning, it came alive with meaning the moment life appeared in it.
For myself, I have never known with such absolute certainty that God is and life is meaningful and purposive as I knew at a time when appearances were declaring the exact opposite. My brain was full of doubt, but I knew with more than brain. God was there, that is all. Underneath were the everlasting arms. I felt the arms. I recognized the presence of God was there; that is the only way can describe what I experienced. At the moment I was deepest down, I was also highest up. I knew God not by believing in Him or reasoning through to Him. I simply knew God.
If you want to know the stars, do you study astronomy books? Do you think about stars? Perhaps, but most of you all you go out and commune with them-warm and glowing in the dark. And on a dark night when no star appears, the stars may be more meaningful and real than ever. If you live close enough to the stars, they go right on shining in you.
So it is with God. God is not something you have sometimes, if you work hard to find Him. God is in you, and you are in God.
When you give yourself to life, you have not reasons for living, but life itself. When you give yourself to God, you have not thoughts about God, but God Himself.
How can you know God is? How can you know the world makes sense? How can you know there is purpose in living? How can you know?
You can know God as you know the stars are shining on a cloudy night, as you know someone you love is in the next room.
Give yourself to life in love and with faith. For then you live not on the surface but at the heart of things. And the heart of things is heart if God.
- James Dillet Freeman
[Published from – Angels Sing in Me – with glad permission of Unity House, USA]