How Can I Find God?


“It’s impossible to please God without faith because the one who draws near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards people who try to find him.”

Hebrews 11:6 (Common English Bible)

The beginning of the matter is faith. Faith does not mean the absence of doubt. As Jesus spoke to his disciples for the last time, the Bible tells us that some of them doubted. Their doubt did not bother Jesus. What Jesus did was to command them how they were to live after he left them. Here, faith is the determination to live “as though it is true.” When two people make marriage vows to remain together “until death do they part” they are aware of the staggering divorce rates. They are aware of the possibility that their marriage may fail. Yet, they begin their life together on faith, the determination that they will remain together until death. Hebrews instructs that we begin the search for God “as though God does exist.”


Faith is not putting aside all doubt. It is determining to believe that God is there, just as we are present in the world. Faith is not putting aside all arguments against the existence of God but, rather, choosing to “accept as true” that God loves and understands and is interested in the smallest details of our life. A serious quest for God will put away all excuses for not beginning to seek God, excuses such as not having sufficient time to be alone with God each day, and sincerely strive to be in a personal relationship with someone as real and present as a spouse or dear friend. Faith is an acknowledgement that God is someone who is worth our worship, our love, our striving to learn from and a decision to follow.


Let the one looking for God then turn each day to a quiet place, a place free of the possibility of interruption and distraction. In silence, think of God as present. Perhaps make a mental picture of God standing directly in front of you or seated right beside you. If it helps, picture God as Jesus groomed as your favorite picture of Jesus, wearing the traditional dress of the Hebrew people of Jesus’ day. Some find sitting in a church before a stained-glass window of Jesus helpful, as do I. Imaginatively, look into tender eyes and see arms outstretched to embrace you. In that moment, confess how you have wronged others and God. Pour out your hurts, disappointments, and longings. Share with God your unmet needs.


Then, after the silence, accept the forgiveness of God, the forgiveness you have heard proclaimed from the pulpit, read in the Bible, or shared with you by those who believe in Jesus. Accept the forgiveness even if you find it difficult to believe that anyone can forgive you, even God. By faith, trust the promise that you are forgiven. Trust that God has taken all that you are ashamed of and removed it from you. As God has placed all of it behind you, now make a mental picture that your back is turned to it and you face forward with no guilt. In that new freedom – and in gratitude – resolve to learn from Jesus and to live as Jesus teaches us to live. Hebrews promises that God will reward you – promises that you will find God.





 “I was beaten with rods three times. I was stoned once. I was shipwrecked three times. I spent a day and a night on the open sea. I’ve been on many journeys. I faced dangers from rivers, robbers, my people, and Gentiles. I faced dangers in the city, in the desert, on the sea, and from false brothers and sisters. I faced these dangers with hard work and heavy labor, many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, often without food, and in the cold without enough clothes.”

2 Corinthians 11:25-27 (Common English Bible)


              Sometimes it appears that the apostle Paul had a hidden charm that both protected him from discouragement and defeat while providing navigation for his ministry. With every possible force at work against him – every possible obstacle to moving forward – Paul was simply unbeatable. His journey seemed impossibly long, and there were lengthy stretches that he had to endure much hardship and loneliness. What’s more, Paul kept a careful journal of each difficulty encountered, every challenge he faced, and deprivation he endured. His purpose for recording each was simply to force the question – can anyone survive experiences such as these, one upon another, by their own strength, their own resources?


              Paul’s answer is, “no.” Every difficulty, challenge, and deprivation presented an opportunity for Paul to proclaim available strength that was not Paul’s – the strength of the risen and active work of Jesus Christ. Storms are part of the normal climate and adversity is part of normal life. Paul utterly rejects the false notion that a formula is at work that shields us from the strong winds and turbulence of day-to-day life. Rather, Paul’s desire is to point to his own life and demonstrate a steadying hand that holds us and strengthens us in the storms. Life is full of annoying and costly interruptions and opposing forces that are bent on defeating us. Paul urges that we make the winds of opposition occasions for relying upon God.


              That legendary football coach of Notre Dame, Knute Rockne once summoned his players before a game and said, “The team that won’t be beat, can’t be beat.” Rockne was not here proclaiming the strength of Jesus for his players. He was appealing to uncommon courage and strength and persistence that lie within each of us. Many of us engage the game of life without our best effort, settling for something just below our actual capacity. Tremendous effort to overcome life’s difficulties is rare, people often accepting defeat easily, naming what is possible as impossible. These are not the challenges Paul speaks of. Paul lifts his eyes to something higher still, to what is impossible were it not for God’s strength.


              Paul continues this discussion beyond the words printed above. He asks, “Does it sound as though I am bragging about all the challenges I have faced?” “I am!” Yet, Paul quickly states that he brags not to showcase his ability. Paul brags to demonstrate the wondrous work of Jesus through him. There are doors that we cannot walk through and storms we cannot endure on our own. That is when we make every difficulty an opportunity to lean into Christ and draw from Christ’s strength. The strength that sustained Paul through every force that sought to stop his ministry is available to every one of us. In our hearts we may ask, “Can I endure?”  Paul gives answer, “In Jesus, we are unbeatable.”




How To Live By Faith

 “Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see.”

Hebrews 11:1 (Common English Bible)


            Harold Blake Walker writes, “We live by faith or we do not live at all.  Either we venture or we vegetate. If we venture, we do so by faith, simply because we cannot know the end of anything at its beginning.”[i]Walker applies this principal to marriage, the pursuit of a career, and the challenge of overcoming any of life’s difficulties. There is little certainty in life. Either we risk obtaining what we desire or we remain single, fail to realize what our potential may be, and are stopped by any resistance that places itself between us and what we want. Once we accept the veracity of Walker’s premise, the question becomes, “How do we proceed with an act of imaginative faith?


            We begin by paying attention – paying attention to the object of our desire. I first noticed the woman that I would eventually marry in Hebrew Language Class. She was attractive, clearly intelligent, and was engaging with other students. As many men have said before me, any notion of a romantic relationship with her would be a reach. Yet, I refused to simply dismiss the possibility. I paid attention to her. I looked for opportunities to engage in conversation with her. Then I looked for clues that she may be responsive to a friendship, moving to a deeper engagement and finally, the most terrifying risk of all, asking her out on a date. She could have politely refused. Clearly admired by both students and faculty, this was a risk.


            This same dynamic is at play in any arena of life. If we desire anything, we begin by paying attention to the small things, gathering clues here and there for the next step that we will take. We make a mental picture of taking possession of what we want and strive forward toward it. That is what this passage from Hebrews means by “Faith is the reality of what we hope for” – we strive forward as though what we desire is now a reality – that we have already taken possession of it. Yes, moving forward may meet with failure. That woman in Hebrew Class may have said “no” to my request for a shared dinner. But the answer was located on the other side of faith – on the other side of taking the risk to ask.


            The Book of Hebrews does not minimize the difficulty of faith. An easy faith is a contradiction of terms. Faith, as we have acknowledged, carries an element of risk. And great faith has always had to reckon with great doubt. We possess faith only as we fight for it each day – keeping our eye on the object of desire and recapturing its allure each day. Then we must doubt our doubts and move steadily forward in the direction we wish to go. Yes, the burden of doubt occasionally presents struggle and strain. All great ventures of our lives require struggle and strain. But triumphs are not won without an unquenchable belief that we can achieve what we desire. It all begins with one step forward. That is living by faith




 [i]Earl Nightingale, Transformational Living: Positivity, Mindset, and Persistence. (Shippensburg, PA: Sound Wisdom, 2019) 77.


Unfinished Discipleship

The following is from Doug Hood\’s upcoming book,

Nurture Faith: Five Minute Meditations to Strengthen Your Walk with Christ, volume 2

 “Every scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing mistakes, for correcting, and for training character, so that the person who belongs to God can be equipped to do everything that is good.”

2 Timothy 3:16, 17 (Common English Bible)
There are people in the church who have a favorite hymn but not a favorite scripture. They have picked out a favorite piece of music to feed their soul, but they do not have a favorite selection from the Bible to feed their mind. The soul is well nourished. The mind is not. Why would this be? I recall a woman telling me that she does not need to study the Bible. She studied the Bible formally in college classes. That was forty years ago! Asked what her favorite scripture was, she responded, “To thine own self be true.” That is not from the Bible. It is from the Shakespearean tragedy, Hamlet. Yet, she sings in the church choir each week. Classic, traditional church music feeds her soul, she told me. Nourishing the soul while neglecting the mind.

Paul writes to Timothy that God inspires scripture for expanding the mind. The essential value of scripture is to teach, show mistakes, for correcting, and for training character. Beautiful sacred music inspires and takes a weary soul to a place of rest and nourishment. That is important in the life of a disciple. However, it is not enough. Paul reminds us here, as he does in other places, that God created us for a purpose. God created each person to be useful to God. Scripture makes us useful. Scripture shapes us, forms us, and equips us to be participants in God’s work in the world. Inspired by sacred music while lacking usefulness to God is unfinished discipleship.

We belong to God. Paul is clear on that point. Can you imagine staffing your business with people who lack the basic skill set to get the work done? Christian baptism is Kingdom staffing. Baptism is God’s claim on us. God chooses us and provides the Bible as a training manual for equipping us to be useful. Baptism is also our promise. We promise to make God’s work the very center of our life. That means that we will expand our capacities for accomplishing each task God places in our charge. Done well, God’s Kingdom expands continually affecting positively more and more lives. That results in exponential growth of God’s purposes in the world. That is, if each new baptized disciple is useful.

I am asking that you feed your mind daily on God’s word in the Bible. Memorize passages that seem particularly meaningful. Throughout the day, as you go about other tasks, recall to mind those passages you have memorized. Think deeply about why that particular passage is important to you. That simple process accomplishes a big part of God’s work in each person – reflecting on what God intends for us to hear from a portion of scripture that resonates with us. Prayerfully ask two questions: “What would you have me hear, O Lord?” and “What would you have me do, O Lord?” Day after day, you will discover that God’s Spirit is upon you, equipping you for God’s good purposes in the world. That is what discipleship looks like.