“There really is a God!” squealed my friend as a smile broke out across her face and she clapped her hands. A number of events had come together in a beautiful way after quite a long time of little progress. Probably it isn’t unusual for any of us to feel the way she did when we’ve been praying and we find good coming into our lives.
For many people, the reality of God is vividly awakened when some positive change takes place—especially when the change is in sharp contrast with something that has challenged us. One fellow, for example, was rock climbing. He got into a precarious position. The danger seemed very real until he remembered the Bible verse about moving mountains (see Mark 11:23). As his fingers lost their grip, a footing suddenly appeared that simply hadn’t been there. He knew at that moment there truly was a God. A woman who had been in an accident was rushed to the hospital, where X-rays showed a fractured bone and other damage. A quick healing through Christian Science treatment led her husband back to the original hospital X-rays that no longer showed the fracture, although the written medical records describing them had not changed. Do you think she had proof there is a God?
Several years ago, I shared some unusual experiences in this magazine—events that seemed to have no ordinary explanation (see “How Long?” Christian Science Sentinel, August 30, 2010). But they did have a spiritual explanation, one that surely provided proof of a God. To my surprise, within a few weeks I received over 20 examples of extraordinary healings from people who had quietly cherished them. I felt these highly unusual instances of healing could only be explained by acknowledging that there really is a God.
People may sense a divine presence during a church service, listening to a sermon. Most of us have enjoyed something deeper about such a service than fulfilling a duty by occupying a seat in a sanctuary. We’ve sensed a spiritual lift or divine presence that we attribute to God. Sometimes that sense of God’s reality may come when we’re quietly studying the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson alone at home in an early morning hour.
Years ago, my wife and I hiked into an isolated mountain area. For 30 days we were utterly free of all the hustle and bustle of daily life. There were moments, in this majestic wilderness setting, of feeling very close to God, even discerning important ideas that became a lifelong blessing. When we returned to civilization, we actually had to readjust a bit to all the mental activity of modern society. I could appreciate Christ Jesus’ retreat to the wilderness when he was nurturing a growing assurance that God is true. More than just getting away from the crowds, the Bible says, “He withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed” (Luke 5:16). Prayer can be such a natural time of discovery. A discovery of God.
While most people on earth believe that God does exist, there are millions who vigorously deny His reality. To the extent one is spiritually minded, he or she is likely to feel more comfortable about the truth of God’s existence. To the extent one leans toward material-mindedness, the door is more open for an atheistic sense of reality. In fact, Mary Baker Eddy’s stark reference to the “atheism of matter” well defines the mental state of an ardent materialist. The Bible calls him Adam (see Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 580).
God is proving to me that He does exist.
If one were to begin finding less evidence of God (spiritual joy, inspiration, innocence, health, healing) in life, it might be helpful to specifically protect consciousness through prayer against the influence of atheism. Such an influence comes into our lives a little like rain comes through a crack in the roof. Unless those leaks are repaired, the dampness can damage the roof itself. So how does one protect himself from the insistent drip, “There is no God”? How about an intelligent affirmation, through prayer, that there is God? Not so complicated. Once when I was in a quiet corner of a large room, someone turned out the lights as he left. I walked over and turned them back on. Not too complicated.
In like fashion, dealing with the aggressive atheistic suggestion that there is no God is something that a child can handle. I’ve heard children (as well as adults) affirm with thoughtful conviction, “There is no spot where God is not.” Not too complicated. We surely wouldn’t ignore the claims of atheism. And we wouldn’t be intimidated by them either.
I have experienced proof that God exists in the variety of ways described above, and I’ve found freedom from atheism by specifically defending my consciousness. I know others would say the same. And there have been additional proofs of God. But they don’t fit the norm.
Two times come readily to thought. Both of them were occasions when I wasn’t actively or consciously reaching out to know God. I wasn’t engaged in the usual ways we try to get closer to the divine. Once I was searching for something in a drawer. The other time I was sitting on the back porch, actually feeling a little drawn away from God. Not very dramatic surroundings in terms of what you might expect about a profound discovery of God.
I think of these two experiences in the context of what Christ Jesus was helping people understand. It seems to me the kingdom of God, for Jesus, wasn’t otherworldly. It didn’t involve paved streets of gold or wings and halos. It was, instead, simply a kind of spiritual normalcy. Freedom from the distractions of blindness or fear, paralysis or ignorance, lack or sin—any material restriction. Jesus was so spiritually minded that he recognized God’s kingdom right at hand. He saw that Spirit was the reality and man was spiritual—that is, not limited or vulnerable.
On these couple of occasions, I simply felt the saving Christ was revealing to me this kingdom of God, very real and very present. As I sorted through the drawer, there was a surrounding harmony that I could only describe as what it must be like to be in the kingdom of heaven. It may have lasted only a few minutes, but I prayed about it for days afterward, trying to better understand its significance. I don’t remember what I was looking for, and I don’t remember if I found it. But I do remember that during those moments, God was more real to me than He had ever been before.
Years later, when I was sitting on the back porch, feeling a pull away from God, there was again a kind of divine presence assuring me of Love’s reality. As I thought about it over several days, it seemed clear that tens of thousands of those angels Jesus referred to (see Matthew 26:53) had been right there saving me. Am I prone to strange experiences? I’ll have to say that over my life it’s the consistency of Christian healing that has usually been the only thing that the world would consider different about me. In so many ways my life has been a normal human experience.
Sometimes we try pretty hard to demonstrate proof of God through traditional ways. And that can be quite rewarding and fulfilling. But I’ve also found it useful to cultivate what might be called an expectancy of the unexpected—taking delight in fresh ways God is revealed to me.
Maybe everyone won’t relate to how I find God. I suppose ultimately each must find the answer for himself or herself. But even if I don’t prove God to others, I do feel the need for enough humility to recognize that God is proving to me that He does exist.
Nate Talbot is a practitioner and teacher of Christian Science. He is also a member of the Christian Science Board of Directors.