Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

God, Are You Here?

Written by: on June 26, 2014


Last week I attended the funeral of a woman, 31 years old, who tragically, inexplicably died. By the estimation of many, she had begun to make straight paths out of the broken roads that had previously defined her. She just graduated from college,  seemingly had much to look forward to. However, now her three children and a very diverse cross section of our community are left with questions. Questions of life and questions of death which are essentially framed by different emotions using the same words: “God, are you here?”

Through conversations in the days prior to this funeral, and certainly in the time immediately following, it is always of interest to recognize that despite the different paths that many of walk through life, we all share the same basic questions: where is God while I live? Where is God when I die? In those moments, both in life and in those sobered by death, there are very few who would state that God does not exist. Many will attempt to make their case for the reasons why they don’t need Him, or think they that He obviously is removed from our lives.  Yet here we all are reconciling that our position against the idea that He does exist; and ultimately there is solace in that idea.  Many seem to live with the idea that “God is there”, but in these kind of moments we want to know “God, are you here?”

Though the path we each travel is different, God seems to show up on those different paths.  All roads don’t lead to God, but I have come to appreciate that God travels all roads, whether we are in a place to acknowledge Him or not.  I think that is part of what Terry Eagleton is alluding to in his book, Culture and the Death of God. He writes: “Not believing in God is a far more arduous affair than is generally imagined. Whenever the Almighty seems safely despatched, he is always liable to stage a reappearance in one disguise or another.” (p.119) Try, as each age and generation has done, over the years, to minimize or exclude God from the picture, He is still here, present and thankfully not limited to the changing whims of the human condition.

With the increasingly diverse mix of political, cultural, technological, sexual and ideological identities, we might be willing to believe that as a people we are growing deeper in our thinking and capacity to understand one another. What we witness more is a growing fragmentation with little desire to examine or appreciate the perspectives we hold as they relate to others. This lack of interior reflection and meaningful engagement is then transferred onto our perception of God.  “If there is no longer a God, it is partly because there is no longer any secret interior place where he might install himself. Depth and interiority belong to a clapped-out metaphysics, and to eradicate them is to abolish God by rooting out the underground places where he has been concealing himself. “(p.186) There are even those who, despite identifying with a Christian perspective. seem to a possess a growing doubt, even fear (not voiced) that perhaps God isn’t here, He isn’t as alive as they may have once thought.

And yet, thankfully it is right in that place where God reveals himself. In the death of our own definitions of self-identity, which in the end has created more distance between those among whom we share our days, we have instead found life in the place where true poverty lies, within our soul. There are two reminders from the prophet Isaiah, which speak to the present vitality and nearness of God. The first is in Isaiah 58:6-9 in response to those who call for Him, God says that He is close, He is listening and is present. That promise should encourage us to enter into the difficult disparities of the world.  The second is in Isaiah 65:1, where God says that even to those who attempt to live as though He did not exist and would pretend that they have no need of Him, He is calling them and revealing Himself to them. How amazing to think that God is continually ready to be present with those who seek Him and those who are attempting to create identities apart from Him. As Terry Eagleton puts it: “It is here that a new configuration of faith, culture and politics might be born.” (p.208)

That funeral last week brought together many who were on different roads of life. Some were calling out to God and others were resisting His call to them. But this much was true and continues to be true: God is here, He is alive and in Him we have hope for ourselves, our communities and our world (Romans 16:15-17).

“For Christian faith, the death of God is not a question of his disappearance. On the contrary, it is one of the places where he is most fully present. Jesus is not Man standing in for God. He is a sign that God is incarnate in human frailty and futility. “(p.160)

When are you most likely to wonder if God is present?

About the Author

Deve Persad

Leave a Reply