I remember the first time I became conscious of God’s existence. I was 11 years old. As I stood on the terrace of my home, gazing at the beautiful starry night sky, I wondered what’s beyond the stars. I thought of God for the first time.
There was an elderly gentleman in his late fifties standing beside me. As I was trying to grasp the God-mystery in my little mind, I turned to him and asked, “Who created God? What’s beyond the stars?”.
He was silent for a few seconds, perhaps scrambling for answers in his mind. Then he muttered, “I really don’t know.”
That night, there was a spark of curiosity, something in me wanted to grasp who God is and what He’s like.
I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.
– George Washington Carver | Inventor
Beyond the religious rituals
Christianity as a religion was given to me by my parents at my birth. I had no say in that. I was taught to do things in a certain way and was expected to follow the rules. I just went through the motion of doing things, without questioning or thinking the why behind what I did.
During my teenage years, I started serving in the catholic church as an altar boy. I attended the church services regularly. It was during that season of my life that I began to sense that something is missing.
I never doubted God’s existence but I saw the superficiality in the things we did, the meaningless rituals we performed and the memorized prayers that we recited again and again.
We were just doing things, going through the motions, thinking that these activities will please God, bring the blessings, break curses and stop bad things from happening to us. I felt we weren’t connecting with God at all.
I wanted to experience the reality of God first-hand. But I couldn’t articulate or describe that feeling back then. I just knew something was missing.
During my junior years in school, my dad got some videos of a Christian preacher named Benny Hinn. As I watched those videos, I felt there was something remarkably different about him. He talked of God as if he knew Him very closely.
Up till then, the picture I had of Jesus in my mind was that of a framed painting that hung on the wall of my home. But as I listened, Jesus sounded very real, powerful, compassionate, and alive to me.
The other thing that caught my attention were the healing miracles in his meetings. The blind seeing, the deaf hearing, people getting from wheelchairs, and more. These miracles certainly did not appear faked or staged. I started thinking maybe there’s some truth to the supernatural, things that science can’t explain.
What I saw and heard ignited a hunger in me to pursue and know this supernatural God. I started seeking God for God Himself. I wan’t thinking of the benefits. I was in awe of God. (Later I found out that my wife Lilian too was greatly impacted by Benny Hinn in her younger years).
For the next few years, I began the journey of exploring the Bible to understand God, not as a religious duty, but out of curiosity. It wasn’t just to increase my intellectual knowledge of God. I wanted to know how God thought, His emotions and how He felt. I was hungry for the truth.
I began listening to various Christian preachers on the internet, read books and articles and joined a Bible study group. I made room and space in my life for anything that would help me to know God better.
One day I read a portion in the Bible where it says “God would speak to a man named Moses face to face (not literally), as one speaks to a friend.” I thought Wow! What? How real can this be? Face to face, as one speaks to a friend?
The thought of friendship with God in such a personal and intimate way really left me amazed.
To experience God in this manner, to relate to Him as a Father and as a friend was disruptive to the religious upbringing that I was familiar with.
Questions on purpose and afterlife
During my senior years in school, I began to wonder if there is more to life than the usual script, that is, get a good education, work to earn a living, get married, buy a house, buy a car, have children, and so on, then get old and die.
This script of life did not make sense to me. I felt the story was incomplete, that something was missing, and there must be more than what meets the eye.
There was a sense of loneliness in my soul even when I had family and friends around. I was searching for the ultimate unconditional love and the purpose of my existence.
The thought that bothered me was that if I cannot know for sure what lies beyond death or in the afterlife, then there is no solid meaningful framework or foundation on which to live my life now.
The choices I make, the journey I take, the broken world I live in, all this needs to make sense in a much bigger story. The dots have to connect. How did I come into being? What brings life meaning? How do I know right from wrong? Where am I headed after I die? The way I live now, will it matter then?
Then I came across these words in the Bible; God spoke to Moses, as a man speaks to his friend. The idea of friendship with the Creator of the universe just blew me away.
From there on a journey of re-discovering God began. The whole story started to make sense. I realized the ache I felt in my soul was for God, to know and experience Him. And it changed everything for me.
The more I continued digging into the Biblical narrative of who God is, the origin, the meaning of life, morality, and destiny, the pieces of the puzzle started to fall in place and began making sense.
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?
– Jesus | The Bible
I started to grow in my understanding of God, what went wrong with the world and the human race from the Bible. I saw that we’re made to have a personal and intimate relationship with God, but our sins separate us from Him.
But God made a way for us to come closer and enjoy Him. He paid a great price to make it happen. He sacrificed His only Son Jesus Christ.
I believed wholeheartedly what Jesus did for me. I repented from my sins and said to God, “Thank you for sending Your Son Jesus. I believe Jesus died on the cross to pay the fine for my sins. Jesus You are my Lord. God, You are my Heavenly Father. I am going to follow You. You are my greatest discovery. I need You. Teach me how to live this life, I am willing to learn.”
Jesus not only died to wash away our sins but to give the Holy Spirit as a gift to empower us to live a Godly life. I kept pursuing God even when I struggled with sin. I understood that God really loved me. I felt secure in His love. As I kept going, I started increasing in freedom and spiritual strength.
The Bible says that God is a rewarder of those who seek Him diligently. I have experienced the practical reality of God’s love and care in the mundane nitty-gritty details and struggles of life.
I have seen the supernatural hand of God at various points in my life, in my family and in the lives of others. God is still at work, changing me from the inside out. He is the potter and I am the clay.
God is so great that you can never cease being fascinated with Him. The mystery, the surprises and the adventure never stops. But it’s not the miracles and the supernatural itself that I want to boast about, it’s what these point to. They point to God, His heart, and His character. Encountering His goodness, changes us.
God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.
– The Bible
Seeking God is not a religious activity, it’s not a one-time event, Sunday routine or some supernatural experience that we seek to have.
It’s a hunger to pursue and love the truth, understand God and involve Him in the affairs of our lives. It’s learning to see things from His perspective and doing life with Him. The supernatural then becomes incidentally natural.
True seekers will eventually become finders because they want the real substance. Meaningless religious activities and the vain amusements of this world have failed to satisfy the deep longings of the human heart.
We were created to experience a real relationship with God. He wants us to seek Him. How far are we willing to go? Are we ready to take the road less traveled?