We live in a world that needs proof of things. We do not like ambiguity. We do not like staking our hope on “best guesses” and predictions. We want outcomes to be certain. Anything less causes worry, anxiety, and uncertainty, which I guess, are all synonymous with one another.
ESPN (the all sports network) says my Auburn Tigers will play Ohio State for the National Championship and they will do so by beating TCU in the National Semi Finals. I say prove it. The Houston Astros are predicted to be the 2016 World Series Champions. I say prove it. Eating too many hamburgers in your lifetime can shorten it. Since this dire statistic hits me real close to home, I say prove it.
God exists. Jesus was real. I know this to be true. But I cannot prove it.
And therein lies the “rub”.
As you may have gathered from the tone of recent blogs and comments on Sunday morning, my faith has been called into question lately by those who do not believe. I don’t know if God is putting them in my path for a reason, or if it’s just an irritant meant to hack me off. It doesn’t matter how the conversation starts, how it twists and turns, and it doesn’t matter how it winds up. The conversation always gets to the same place.
“So, you believe that God exists? Prove it.”
You can only imagine what happens when I throw the whole; “Jesus said that those who believe and yet cannot see are blessed” deal at them can’t you? Or, if I say, “I know it because I feel it”, they feast on that like piranha.
PROVE IT. Can’t.
Here’s something else I can’t prove. Now, let me put a disclaimer on this because the FOX 26 morning weatherman and his family are in fact members of our church, so, if I am speaking a false truth then I am sorry. But, you cannot pinpoint where the wind begins. Like, the breath of wind that you feel when you are outside. You might know the direction it comes from and you might know why it’s blowing but the actual point at which the wind begins cannot be proven. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t from a butterfly flapping its wings in Africa, but I can’t prove that either.
But you can feel it. And, when the trees move you can see the effects of the wind.
Faith is like this. I cannot prove with any kind of historical certainty that Jesus Christ walked the earth and did miracles and walked on water and then was raised from the dead, appearing to hundreds of people for about 50 days after he was raised, only to then be taken up into the clouds to sit at the Father’s right hand, until such time as he comes again to judge the “quick and the dead”.
But I have knelt inside of the tomb he was raised out of. I have felt holiness in that place that cannot be described. I could blindfold an atheist, or you for that matter, and I could take you/them to the tomb and leave you/them there for a few minutes and then ask you/them if you/they knew where you/they were and I can promise you that you/they would sense that something profound happened in that place. You can’t see it. But you can feel it. You can see the “effect” it has on the people who walk out. Oh, yes, you can feel it and you see it.
I have been in hospital rooms where children are dying. It fully lives into the definition that it’s been given, you know, “worst nightmare”. Even that doesn’t really describe it. Even in those moments I have sensed the presence of the Holy as if it has somehow entered the room like a gentle breeze. I am not the only one that has noticed this. I’ve seen people smile through tears of pain because of this presence that slips in. I can’t prove that it’s Jesus. But I can feel it. I can see the “effect”. Oh, yes, I can feel and I can see it.
I’ve seen the beauty of Alaska. I’ve knelt down and spread out my arms and watched our son walk into our home for the first time and then head right straight into my opened arms. I’ve stood behind the altar at St. Catherine’s and felt like the Spirit was hovering right over us, among us. I have seen brand new mothers and father holding their tiny babies like they are holding the most precious thing in the universe because for them they are indeed holding the most precious thing in the universe and when I see that, I know that God is near. I can’t prove that these things are “of God” or that God is “in it” or that maybe I am seeing God. But I can feel it. I can feel the “effect”. Oh, yes, I can feel and I can see it.
What can we prove, really? What can we be certain of? That the sun will rise tomorrow? Highly probable, but not certain. That it will be hot? Almost guaranteed, but not certain. That grass is green? Maybe to us, but is it “green” to everything that lives? And if it’s not green for them, then, just because it is green to us does that mean it’s actually green? Don’t know. Is it certain that I am going to get up early in the morning, play tennis, go to the office, head out for meetings most of the day, return home sometime around 6:00, eat, and then watch TV until I fall asleep; which is exactly how I have foreseen it? I’m not sure that I can prove to you that it will go that way.
So, we live our lives believing in things that we cannot see or prove. We believe with certainty in those things that are not certain. And we are no less blessed because of it.
Didn’t someone say that already?
Imagine what they say to that? I’ll go ahead and tell you…