Who do you say I am?
I find this question difficult to answer, not because I don’t know the answer, it is just the difficulty in expressing it. I was asked pretty much the same question recently in an online scientific discussion group with some people who don’t believe in God – they are not strident atheists like Richard Dawkins for example, they are just people who are convinced that everything we see and experience is due to natural causes, to them God is simply not necessary. They struggle to understand how a rational person like myself can accept things like the Theory of Evolution yet still hang onto my religious beliefs.
The best analogy I could give them is the relationship I have with my wife. We are coming up to our Golden Anniversary this May and as I reflect on our married life, I see much in common with my relationship with God. I first met my wife at a dance just over 52 years ago. Saying that it was ‘love at first sight’ might be an overstatement but there was an instant attraction for me and as I got to know her better over the following weeks and months, that attraction deepened into true love, a love that has constantly deepened and matured over the last 50 years, a love that I have never wanted to be without, a love that has never been challenged or threatened by any other person. How do I explain that love and what it is? The short answer is that I can’t, it’s just something that I know in every fibre of my being without being able to adequately express it in words. It is the same with God. Unlike my first meeting with my wife, I can’t pinpoint exactly when God became an integral part of my life; I was born and raised a Catholic so God has always been there but in my teenage years, as many of my peers moved away from religion, my love of God and his importance to me became ever deeper; his presence in me became as natural as breathing or eating.
One of the greatest joys of a happy marriage is that I know I have someone whom I can always come home to. No matter what difficulties I have encountered, no matter what mistakes I have made, there is someone there who loves me despite all my shortcomings and will always welcome me home without reservation. So it is with God; no matter how I have erred, to matter what my shortcomings, he too will always welcome me home without reservation.
Even in the happiest of marriages, things are not perfect all the time. Sometimes my wife and I get on each other’s nerves or annoy each other though, to be honest, I provide far more annoyance than I receive! So too it is with God. I do plenty that I’m sure he finds annoying and he in turn annoys me from time to time but just as in my marriage, those are minor in the overall scheme of things. In my marriage and in my relationship with God, I can honestly say that those issues have never become threatening to my relationship, tiffs have never become serious rows and the relationships have never been ruptured.
The day we got married, my late father in his wedding speech gave me some useful advice : “At the end of each day, no matter what differences you have had, kiss each other and remind each other of your love.” I think that good advice is equally applicable to our relationship with God.