Now that’s about the strangest question a minister has ever asked me, I thought. Here I was, a 19 year old who had attended the Church of God since age 11, and now when I approached a minister about the serious subject baptism, he asked the simplest of question, “Do you believe God exists?”
“Of course I do!” I answered, wondering why he would ask me something he knew I believed.
“Why do you believe that?” he persisted.
“Well . . . . you know,” I nervously replied, caught off guard. “You can’t have life without a Lifegiver, creation means there had to be a Creator, matter hasn’t always existed and all the other things that prove God exists.”
“That’s right,” he said. “But what is it deep down inside you that makes you know and know that you know that you have an unshakeable conviction that God exists? What is it that gives you a real, personal relationship with Him?”
After a few minutes of silent consideration, I was forced to admit something very humiliating: “I guess I really don’t know how to explain that.”
This was not proceeding the way it was supposed to. I thought it would be simple. I had grown up in the Church, had taken the Correspondence Course and now logically assumed it was time to be baptized. I had studied the subject of baptism and knew the scriptures about immersion.
Then, suddenly, only five minutes into the first counselling session, I couldn’t even convincingly tell the minister why I knew God existed. I knew He did, but why did I know? How real was God to me?
How real is He to you? Can you know God exists? Can you be close to God? Yes, you can. You don’t even have to be an adult, be baptized, be in college or be a certain age. But you do have to work and think.
Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong often mentioned that education today wrongly put emphasis on memorizing rather than learning. God wants you to learn about Him, not merely memorize things about Him.
Take the question of God’s existence. The Church of God New World Ministries has two articles “Does God really Exist” and “Do you really Know God” that you should read. The evidence that God exists is irrefutable.
But realize that you can read these two articles, accept what you read and even memorize it, but that won’t necessarily make you closer to God or make God real to you!
That’s what my minister was trying to get across to me. He knew, and showed me, that I had only memorized the proofs God exists. I had believed it, accepted it, had no questions about it, but it was much like believing and accepting that man has walked on the moon or that there is a country named China.
Do you believe astronauts have walked on the moon, or that China exists? Sure you do. But if you were to walk on the moon with those astronauts or spend two weeks touring China these facts would be real to you. Much more real than seeing something on television or reading about it in a book.
The same is true with you and God. Yes, there are factual proofs you can read about concerning God’s existence, but those proofs need to become living reality to you.
How? By making those proofs something you see in life around you through the experiences you have rather than just something you read about.
You might say, “Sure God would be real to me if I was dying and He instantly healed me when I prayed, but I’ve never been in that situation.
There are teens who have had prayers dramatically answered, and yours can be, too, but do you have to wait for some great event to come along before establishing a deeper understanding of God?
No, it doesn’t take a dramatic event or earthshaking experience to make God real to you. Believe it or not, a tiny, purple wild flower taught me the reality of God’s existence.
A couple of weeks after talking with the minister, I took a walk out into a field to think. I had prayed before I went out, asking God to help me somehow become more grounded in the knowledge of His existence.
To be baptized without that firm foundation unshakeable and unwavering-- would be disastrous. As my minister had explained, trials will arise in life sometimes so severe that they can tempt us to question God: “Do you exist? Do You care for me? Are you really out there?” Having that foundation securely laid is essential for any Christian, age 18 or 118.
Still, the answer had not fully jelled in my mind and this frustration was occupying my thoughts as I walked in that field.
Absentmindedly I picked a little wild flower, intending to chew on the stem. Instead, I began examining it very closely. The more I looked at it, the more amazed I was.
That little flower was pretty, but more than that, it was highly complicated in its construction. It was so fragile, its tiny veins holding each little transparent petal together, yet perfectly formed, perfectly symmetrical. Only a half inch in diameter, it was intricately and flawlessly designed. The complex perfection in such a simple flower was striking.
Thoughts slowly began to form and expand. “Hey, look at all the other life right here as well.” I began to mentally examine the other plants, the grass, the trees, the insects, the animals and then, above all, I began to consider the human body and the human brain, that fantastic computer that was allowing me to think in the first place!
One thought let to another and finally to a conclusion: “The harmony of the life systems on this planet could not just have accidentally happened. Now it became crystal clear, because I was personally examining it, why the creation has to have a Creator.
In the days that followed, the reality of God deepened in my mind. Romans 1:20 was suddenly so clear: “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead.”
It took an in-depth observation of a little wild flower to trigger a whole series of thoughts in my mind. By looking at the things that are made, I began to understand the invisible things of God in a way I had never seen them before.
Of course this does not mean everyone should go rushing out into the nearest pasture to gaze at wild flowers. That is what helped me, but only because of a certain frame of mind I was in. Different things will affect different people in different ways at different times.
What you can do, however, is become very aware of life around you and see how the proofs of God’s existence really do relate to you.
Maybe you live on a farm. The next time you see a calf born, take time to think about that. A few months before, that newborn was not even visible to the naked eye. Can that life have come from non-life?
Maybe you have a telescope or can look through one at a planetarium. As you look into the heavens ask yourself questions about the design of what you’re viewing, in order, how it is sustained, and the laws governing the astral bodies, the uniqueness of planet earth. How did it all happen?
Maybe you’ll have a chance to travel in the world and view ruins of places such as Babylon, Ekron, Ashdod, Ashkelon or Sidon. Don’t think, “These are interesting ruins,” and let it pass from your mind. Consider the prophetic significance of these places and realize God has the ability to foretell the future and make things come to pass.
Maybe you’re studying physics or experimenting in biology. Don’t approach it merely as a class assignment. Connect those physical laws you see at work, that caterpillar you see change into a beautiful butterfly, those frogs you dissect all the experiments you do with a greater question. Did this just happen? Was it accidental? Did it just evolve?
Maybe your interest lies in computers. Think about how fascinating these machines are. But understand as well that the most complex computer is still greatly inferior to man’s brain. Tie that in with the thought that man has never been able to create anything that is superior to himself. Then ask yourself if you believe that any power or force of less intelligence than your mind produced you!
These are just a few examples. In other words, if you take time to really look at life, you see those proofs in action around you. They become living proofs. God becomes more real in your understanding. You’ll find that when God is more real to you, you’ll draw closer to Him in your prayer, your Bible study, your listening to His Word on the Sabbath and your observance of His way of life.
As I Thessalonians 5:21 says, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” You can read about the proofs God exists, but go one step beyond that. Prove them in your life. Make them real through the things you experience.
Whether you are 13 or 19, you can prove God exists and you can prove it so deeply to yourself that you will always hold fast to the belief and nothing will ever shake it.
The Church of God New World Ministries will be showing three films this year at the feast of Tabernacles, being held in Pigeon Forge, TN, revealing God’s Majesty and power through nature. These films are absolutely amazing!