1. REASONS TO BELIEVE IN GOD
I’m beginning a series of blogs with my sister Betty Haynie about what we believe. Our thoughts may be helpful to those who don’t believe in God. Betty wrote down her beliefs in detail several years ago. I’ll post her thoughts monthly and add my thoughts and beliefs to each one. Our thoughts are intentionally brief on subjects that could fill volumes. We have some differing views but agree on the basics. She writes with wit and joy. Here’s the beginning.
WHY I BELIEVE IN GOD
By Betty Haynie
There have been times in my life when I was unable to say with certainty that God really existed. I wanted to believe it because the alternative was unthinkable to me. But finding true belief took many years in spite of being brought up in a Christian home and in spite of the influence of my father, grandfather, cousin and two brother-in-laws in the ministry.
The age-old question of whether there is A God, or several gods, or no god at all comes to each of us at some time or other during our life and demands an answer. History tells us that people have sought a god or many gods from the beginning of time.
As a kid in a preacher’s family, I spent the prescribed number of years earning Sunday school pins (for attending), and going to
groups and Christian camps. I was baptized by immersion at age 11 because “it
was time.” I knew I loved Jesus and had offered Him my life, but I really
didn’t know what it meant. Vacation Bible School
At a Christian camp when I was 16, I re-dedicated my life to the Lord and had a little better idea of what it meant by then. But I was a teenager and, typically, had other priorities (like boys and friends). By the time I was a mother I began to want God closer. I felt totally inadequate for such an awesome responsibility and called on God a lot. I continued going to church because it was “the thing to do,” but it really didn’t mean much. I wanted to set a good example by going to church. Many times I went just because it was a job, (as a paid soloist or choir director) not because I wanted to worship. I still didn’t really “get it”!!
Something was missing in my life. I knew that, but I had no clue what “IT” was. I suggested to my husband that we should do something significant together as a family for the world, to make a difference! His response was “We could take up skiing as a family.” I was thinking more along the lines of us going to
be missionaries, joining the Peace Corp or something like that. Not that being
a mother was unsatisfying. On the contrary - I loved it. But “something”
remained missing.....until 1990.
I believe we are each born with a God-shaped void, which we may spend a life-time trying to fill. We try to fill that space with things other than God, and since it is God-shaped, nothing else fits. Whatever you love and decide you can’t do without, IS your god and your master. Many people try to fill this void with alcohol, work, shopping, possessions, etc. You get the idea. These things do not satisfy, they leave a void; they are not God and they don’t fit the hole in your soul.
I decided that there had to be a higher power, if only to create this world with its precise axial tilt, its exact distance from the sun to keep us at livable climates and temperatures; its balance of gases that enable us to breathe and live; the ability of trees and other plants to give off what we need; and the proper gravitational pull to keep us upright and grounded, but able to move easily.
I’m constantly amazed at the intricate and complex systems that comprise the human being (not to mention all the wonderful animals); the amazing, majestic mountains and the deep, mysterious oceans which could not have occurred by accident. There had to be a creative designer. The odds of this happening “by chance” are impossible - mathematically off the charts!!
I came to the conclusion that, not only does a God exist, but that He had to be the Creator of our world; and designer of our universe - that God, and God alone designed everything that is in it - from amoebas to giant redwoods; from microscopic bacteria to gigantic whales.
I realized that the only God who claimed to be the Creator of the Universe, who claimed to leave us a “guide book,” and who claimed He sent His Son to die for us, is the One who deserves my allegiance and adoration. And as it turns out, this God loves me and wants a relationship with ME!! How cool is that? He wants intimacy with me. We are on a first-name basis. He is not just some abstract higher power; He is more than simply “spirit.” He IS ALMIGHTY GOD, who loves me more than I can imagine and who is with me always - my friend and Savior.
WHY I BELIEVE IN GOD
By Dottie Parish
As Betty described we grew up in a Pastor’s family and went to church and Sunday school and more. I was baptized by immersion at age 12 and it was very meaningful to me. As a teen-ager I knew God in a very personal way. And I stayed close to him and to church through college and after. But I drifted away from him in graduate school. I didn’t plan it. While in grad school I remember thinking anger was a sin. In my classes I learned that it is normal to be angry – so it’s not a sin. I also didn’t find a church. (Drifting is dangerous - it takes you places without you choosing your direction.)
After graduate school I met and married my husband and we didn’t go to church. I no longer believed in the God I had so loved and who so loved me. After our second child arrived we went with our kids to a Unitarian Fellowship. We found there an educated group of secular humanists. This was our “spiritual home” for more than ten years. We quit going there when the Unitarian teen-agers were more liberal than we were.
Here are the four characteristics of humanism:
1. The only knowledge is scientific—fact based.
and happiness is the prime goal of life—do whatever
you want. Independence
3. Self indulgence, even narcissistic hedonism is approved.
4. Morals are an individual or cultural choice; there are no absolutes, no right or wrong.
The Methodists in contrast based their beliefs on Scripture, experience, reason and tradition with Scripture the mainstay. We do have a reasonable faith.
We didn’t recognize it, but the beliefs of humanism were our beliefs at the time though we wouldn’t have said we approved of hedonism. We denied the God shaped void, Betty mentioned. I had a good marriage, three beautiful children and a fascinating career. I thought that was all I needed. My former Christian life resembled a boarded-up, abandoned building; a building unsuited for me. I wanted to forget the days I lived there. We enjoyed our family and our careers. Unlike Betty, I didn’t think anything was missing in my life. I thought I was happy and in many ways I was.
Years went by. Our kids grew up. In the late eighties, with the death of friends and a nephew, I removed a plank or two from my boarded up heart. I began praying again. I read Shirley McLain books and thought “spiritual” thoughts. I thought of God as a force. Bible verses slipped out from the cracks that were no longer boarded up. "Be still and know that I am God" (Ps. 46:10). "My soul glorifies the Lord." (Luke1:46). The refrain from Godspell, "To see Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly, Follow Thee more nearly, day by day," invaded a corner of my thoughts. Glimmers of faith flickered in my mind. We have souls, God is a loving force. I do remember wondering if I could ever go back to true belief in the God of the Bible. I found out in 1990 I could!! After 35 years away.
“A life devoted to things is a dead life, a stump; a God-shaped life is a flourishing tree.” Proverbs The Message
“Trust in your money and down you go! But the godly flourish like leaves in spring.” Proverbs NLT
P.S. Watch for HOW & WHY I BECAME A
TRUE BELIEVER in early July from Betty and Dottie.