“I don’t need God; I can handle things myself!” Occasionally I am confronted with those words. “Really?” I often say, giving me a moment to think before I respond. Though I’ve never actually said it, “I’ve often wanted to respond: “You are a most unusual individual. In fact, you are so rare a specimen that you should be the subject of study by the scientists of our day, and certainly, the theologians, who need to know how someone can be so secure, so confident of himself or herself, so absolute. They need to know what makes you different from all the other creatures which fill the churches of the world, who pray to the Almighty, who christen babies and bury their dead with the hope of eternity.”
I would be particularly interested in knowing where and how you find strength when the doctor says, “I have to tell you we have done everything that medical science can do. If you know how to pray, you’d better do it now.” I’d like to know whom you turn to when you have laid the body of your mate in the cold ground and heard someone intone, “Dust to dust and ashes to ashes.” How do you handle the difficulties of life, especially those which strike closest to your heart and home?
The person who boasts he or she has no need of God is not one to be studied but one to be pitied, because that person has a need—not much different from that of someone with an undiagnosed cancer—which is neither acknowledged nor confronted. You who feel that way have a blind spot in your thinking. The issue is not really whether you can get through life without God—many people do—but how much richer and fuller your life could be with God.
The fact is that you were made by God and for God. Within every heart is a God-shaped vacuum, as Rene Pascal described it, which can only be filled by the Almighty. Long ago, Augustine acknowledged this need, saying, “Thou has made us for thyself, O God, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
It is the God-connection which gives meaning and purpose to an otherwise often irrational existence. It is the certainty that there is an Almighty who is not disinterested in what happens to His children, which allows us to face the disasters of life, and to stand before an open grave with the certainty that dust to dust and ashes to ashes was not spoken of the soul.
But belief in God is not a crutch which gets you by the tough times of life, like death and dying. It involves a relationship with God which adds a third dimension to all of life—to marriage, to existence, to how you treat others—reflecting a value system that holds life itself. It is sacred.
A faithful dog is a wonderful companion who may show affection and warmth, but an animal with no knowledge of God cannot express the comfort of one who can hold your hand and say, “We’ll be together for all eternity.”
Here is the bottom line: We have no need of God if there is no life after death—no heaven or no hell. But if one has come back from the other side, and there is no question that he or she has been there, then suddenly, everything changes. If the resurrection of Jesus Christ was a fraud, if no one has ever glimpsed the other side as he or she lay dying, then, perhaps, friend, it’s OK to live without God. But if God exists on the other side, you can’t afford to live without Him on this side. Think about it.
Resource Reading: Jeremiah 29:10-14
Text: You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13
GUIDELINES with Harold Sala – July 24, 2017