And through the fog…
I can remember from my childhood, mornings where the fog was so thick that it seemed more real than the world that it hid. It wrapped cold and sulking tendrils around me so that I could no longer see the familiar landscape that was home to my family and I. My brothers could be mere feet from me and the only evidence that I would have of their existence was the softened and muted voices of their calling from the fog’s vast nothingness.
There are times when faith seems something akin to that. Faith is a struggling against a fog that limits the experience between the believer and God. The landscape of that kingdom we read about in the bible is hidden away and God’s voice seems muted and softened by the heavy folds of this misty existence.
As I am going through the Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer, I can see a similarity to that fog from my childhood memories and experiencing the reality of God. Here are some of Tozer’s words from chapter 4:
It was Canon Holmes, of India, who more than twentyfive years ago called attention to the inferential character of the average man’s faith in God. To most people God is an inference, not a reality. He is a deduction from evidence which they consider adequate; but He remains personally unknown to the individual. “He must be,” they say, “therefore we believe He is.” Others do not go even so far as this; they know of Him only by hearsay. They have never bothered to think the matter out for themselves, but have heard about Him from others, and have put belief in Him into the back of their minds along with the various odds and ends that make up their total creed. To many others God is but an ideal, another name for goodness, or beauty, or truth; or He is law, or life, or the creative impulse back of the phenomena of existence.
These notions about God are many and varied, but they who hold them have one thing in common: they do not know God in personal experience. The possibility of intimate acquaintance with Him has not entered their minds. While admitting His existence they do not think of Him as knowable in the sense that we know things or people.
Christians, to be sure, go further than this, at least in theory. Their creed requires them to believe in the personality of God, and they have been taught to pray, “Our Father, which art in heaven.” Now personality and fatherhood carry with them the idea of the possibility of personal acquaintance. This is admitted, I say, in theory, but for millions of Christians, nevertheless, God is no more real than He is to the non-Christian. They go through life trying to love an ideal and be loyal to a mere principle.
Over against all this cloudy vagueness stands the clear scriptural doctrine that God can be known in personal experience. A loving Personality dominates the Bible, walking among the trees of the garden and breathing fragrance over every scene. Always a living Person is present, speaking, pleading, loving, working, and manifesting Himself whenever and wherever His people have the receptivity necessary to receive the manifestation.
If I return to my childhood memories, I can recall that I never doubted that my home was still close by even though I could no longer see it through the fog. If I wanted to experience that reality I had only to wait for the fog to lift or I could make my way through the mist until I came into contact with the concrete steps that lead up to the front porch and then over the threshold of the living room door. It was far quicker to stumble through the shroud of mist than it was to wait for it to lift if I wanted the assurance that home was still there.
Is our Pursuit of God something like that? Are we stumbling through the fog in order to be more assured of His existence?
I wonder if we are sometimes standing in the fog just waiting around for it to lift in order that we can find some hope of His existence.
Maybe I question whether or not we believe in an inference more than a reality of God because there are times when the fog seems so much more real than He does. And our immobility is made of paralysis instead of expectancy. And so, Tozer’s words make me wonder if we (or I) are fully receptive to receive the manifestation of His existence.
If you are reading these words, I wonder if you will take some time and share your struggles with this concept or maybe even your triumphs of experiencing God. Are you searching through the fog or has it been lifted for you?