I am currently reading a book called, Distant God by Chris Nye. The book explores the mystery (to us humans) of the omnipresence of God. Why do we often feel like a God who is everywhere at every moment is away from us? Is it because we do not truly understand the presence of God? Must he show forth himself in grand fashion? Must his presence appear in a burning bush or in a loud booming voice from the sky?
Very early on in the book, Mr. Nye makes an attempt to define for us what the presence of God is. I think his explanation strips away from us the notion that the presence or nearness of God must always be accompanied by some grand display. He is always near but if we only look for him in burning bushes, miracles, signs and wonders and booming voices from above, we are likely to question his omnipresence.
Here is the excerpt that has already played such a massive role in transforming my theology:
“At the very start of the book of Genesis, in a garden called Eden, all of the relationships those two human beings had were in harmony. The relationships between the two, God, and creation (including the animals), were “good” according to the Creator. Before Eve appeared, God and Adam were co-laborers working together and conversing (2:15–17), delegating work to each other and seeing the world grow. God created man intimately by placing His hands in the ground and blowing air into his lungs. The Genesis story says that He placed Adam in the garden to work it and keep it (v. 15). This God is not distant and far removed in the Genesis story, but rather with Adam in his daily life.
In Adam’s proximity to God he is working, going about the business of ordinary life in a particular geographic place. Adam is near to God—relating with Him and conversing and obeying. The shalom—peace of God—is alongside the mundane atmosphere of a garden and a man. Together, God and man are working out this shalom in Eden. For us to expect to have more than this in our current time may prove to bring us great disappointment. Our nearness to God entails working with Him in the ordinary stuff of life.”
Every now and then I have a season of doubt. Well, this particular season has lasted for about 4 or 5 years. I’ve had very many lows and very few highs and a group of questions remain persistent and seemingly unanswered.
- Am I doing the right thing?
- Am I saying the right thing?
- Am I repping Christ well enough?
- Am I on track to fulfilling purpose?
- Should I change my approach to things?
- Should I withdraw?
Accompanying these questions is the feeling of a grave sense of distance from God. I often feel like he has purposely withdrawn his presence and muted his voice. But I am learning that he is in the little things. I am learning that if we train our minds to think, our eyes to see and our ears to hear differently, that maybe his omnipresence can become our reality.
Many times we feel distant from God and we are deaf to his voice simply because we’ve already decided what medium he should use to answer us. We’re bruising our knees seeking a booming, audible voice from above, when he may already be answering our prayers through the words of the people around us, their actions towards us, a verse that seems to be popping up in conversation, on signs, etc or simply by the opportunities which he avails to us or denies us. If we train our eyes to hear him in the giggles of our offspring and the kind words of a stranger maybe we won’t feel so distant.
In the moments when we feel most distant from God, it is important to remind ourselves that God is in the Little Things too.