There is not a single believer who from time to time has not had some hesitations about the existence of God. But these moments of hesitation are not harmful. On the contrary, they lead us to a better understanding of God. (Leo Tolstoy)1
Our daughter loves playing hide-and-seek. Once, when it was my turn to hide, I hid behind a door but was still able to observe her as she searched for me.
All of her senses were engaged. “Dada? Dad?” She would say with inquisitive eyebrows, her body leaning slightly forward, hands perfectly still.
The longer I waited without making a sound, the more she seemed to learn into her senses. She was looking inquisitively, listening with great intent, and taking slow careful steps waiting for any hints as to where I might be. Finally I knocked at the door slightly and she quickly honed in on my location. She squealed with delight once she discovered my hiding spot.
A few nights ago, I was laying in bed praying—feeling a bit like God’s presence was eluding me.
“God, are you really here with me?” I asked audibly.
“Is this just all made up? My faith—my spiritual journey? How do I really know what is true?”
The furnace kicked on circulating the thick air of doubt and hesitation that filled the room.
As the quiet lingered on I felt my senses heighten, my spirit quieted, my thinking deepened, and my curiosity intensified. Like my daughter searching for her Dad hiding behind the bedroom door, I was leaning in for the tiniest hint of God’s presence or affirmation in my questioning.
I don’t know if I would say that God hides from us, but it does seem that there are times when God withdraws his presence to some degree. It is so easy to interpret those times as abandonment but those are the times when we must lean into our spiritual senses and sensibilities—to trust that He is there even when it is so difficult for us to perceive it.
You’re not alone if you have questions, doubts, or hesitations. In fact, the absence of such things, rather than their presence, is probably a greater indication that something is awry.
Lean into those moments of hesitation. Notice your questions, curiosities, longings. If embraced and given proper attentiveness, these things lead to learning, growing, knowledge, and ultimately wisdom. If ignored and/or suppressed, they lead to hopelessness and a sense of loss.
Press into those moments when you feel an absence of God’s presence. Accept them as invitations and opportunities for growth. You’ll learn more about yourself and you’ll learn to better understand God.
Photo credit: Lance Baker [Loc.] Serra Retreat, Malibu, CA