Sunday, 15 January 2012

Why believe in God?

"There is a hole in the ground, a dark cavernous recess with gaping aperture. There is a group of people that all wish to get to a point on the other side of the hole. Amongst these people is one who refuses to believe that the hole exists, he looks in the direction of the hole and says that the darkness is just shadows, that it’s all an optical illusion, a trick. Whilst everyone else is making their way carefully around the edge of the gaping abyss, this person strides out – unaware of the dangers, in the most direct route to the place he wants to be.

He falls, screaming, in to that dark maw. Realising, only too late, that the people around him weren’t deluded in their belief that the hole existed. There was a good reason why they didn’t just stride out as he had."

What meaning do you find in this parable? The main point that I’d like to highlight is that the man’s belief – or lack thereof – in the existence of the hole did not effect whether the hole actually existed. What peril did the man put himself in by believing wrong!

When someone asks; why believe in God? It is worth highlighting that whether you believe in him or not doesn’t effect his existence. If your belief is wrong, it is wrong and if it is right, it is right. To refuse to see any evidence that is presented is simply gambling – striding out like the man in our story.

But if you had to gamble? If you were blind and alone and couldn’t see the hole? What would be the best choice to make; believing that the hole existed or that it didn’t? This is known as Pascal’s wager. It precedes something like:

If you believe in God – and are correct, then you have gained everything promised (you get to the other side of the hole).
If you believe in God – and are wrong, then you neither lose nor gain anything (you still get to the other side of the supposed hole).
If you don’t believe in God – and are correct, then you neither lose nor gain anything (you get to the other side if the supposed hole).
If you don’t believe in God – and are wrong, then you lose everything (you fall into the hole).

The only way to lose out is to gamble that God doesn’t exist. Gambling that God does exist means you can’t lose. I hope this is an encouragement to investigate the existence of God further and not just consign it to the rubbish bin of ideas without a second thought.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Silence: A poem

A while ago now, I was with a group of friends when one of them complained about the silence. This started a train of though and the first stanza of this poem. It is about the fast pace of present day life - not really leaving anytime for contemplation and reflection.


What is this silence we sit in,
To hear that dreaded drop of pin.
Oh for murmuring music,
And that ever present life filled din.

Oh for noise to drown that voice,
That voice, accusing from within.

In this mad and rushing world
Where silence is so rare.
To be entombed therein,
That doesn’t seem so fair.

To hear that ever droning note,
The voice within declare:

“Halt and stop and stand and stay,
Listen long and hard this day.”
Now; unwanted prompting,
Calling, wouldst thou go away!

Wouldst thou voice, fall silent!
Reluctant, let I have its say.

I hear that long forgotten voice,
That fought so hard to win.
That voice who tells me right from wrong
And how to live therein.

Give thanks for quiet, to hear that voice,
That voice accusing from within.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

God is good!

God is good! That seems like a true statement, a rather obvious statement maybe, but it is something that we all need to remind ourselves of from time to time. It is very easy in this troubled world to forget this simple statement. That is one of the reasons that, as Christians, we live as part of a community. So that when we forget God’s goodness someone can remind us of it; maybe with a personal testimony of the goodness of God.

I have such a testimony to tell. In September I started to train to become a Maths teacher, knowing that teaching was a worthwhile and stable job. However as time went by I realised that I wasn’t enjoying it. After thinking and praying it over for a week I decided to withdraw from the course. So at the beginning of November I found myself with out a job. This doesn’t sound like a very promising start to a story telling of God’s goodness, does it?

Anyway, concurrent with this lose of my job I was also preparing to take my final exam for my doctorate – so I had plenty to keep me occupied. About a week after I decided to give up the teaching I received an advert for a job at the university I’d attended – a job I was qualified for, in a general sense (it wasn’t in my area of research but close enough that an application wouldn’t be rejected out of hand). I applied for the job which started in January but didn’t hear anything, so I applied for another similar job at a different university. Since then I haven’t seen any other positions at universities which have interested me to apply.

I passed my PhD! This was certainly evidence of God’s work, no way did I deserve to pass. Whilst still trying to work out how on earth I’d passed, I got an email from the second university I’d applied for offering me an interview. A couple of days before I went to the interview I final heard from the university I attended, also offering me an interview, a week later. Through out this time I was praying that God would provide a job for me, that he’d put me where he desired – but that this would also be somewhere local. I attended the first interview and although it went well, I realised that I’d made a few mistakes and I also met the other candidate and found out that his background was actually in the area that they were looking for.

Learning from my mistakes, I went to the second interview a week later. I’d spent more time preparing, and although I was called to go to the interview half an hour earlier than I was expecting – I felt a great peace through out the whole thing. It helped that I new the interviewers, but that doesn’t fully explain how relaxed I felt. Anyway I left the interview knowing that I had done my best and that it was in God’s hands now – whether he preferred me or one of the other candidates in this position.

The next morning I woke up to an informal email – saying that they had offered the job to another candidate with more relevant skills, but it was a close thing. If the other candidate rejected the offer then they would gladly offer the position to me. They would keep me informed. This was a few days before Christmas and I realised that I wouldn’t hear before the new year, at the earliest when the university re-opened. I tied up all the lose ends, cleared my desk and went home for Christmas. I continued to pray that God would, in his mercy, give me this job, knowing that there was nothing that I could do.

After Christmas and the new year I still hadn’t heard anything more from either of the jobs. So I emailed the place where I’d had the first interview and was told that, as expected, they’d offered the job to the other candidate. It seemed that I’d got neither of these two jobs, so I started looking again for jobs, however nothing really struck my eye. I even signed up for an agency – and have been waiting for them to call me to talk about what opportunities they knew about.

This morning, I woke up to find that I had a missed call from the agency. I called them back – they were busy but would call me back in a bit. Whilst I waited to hear from them I checked my email. It was then that I found out that I had been offered the job at the university I’d attended, the second interview. I found out that the person they had initially offered the job to had turned it down in favour of another position. I accepted the job – in the place I desired.

God heard my persistent prayers, and when it was out of my hands, he gave it to me, as a gift – one I didn’t deserve. God is indeed good! Hallelujah!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Devoted: A poem

It has been a while since I last posted anything here, but it's a new year so I'm going to try and get back to posting more. Here's a short poem, which I hope will be thought provoking, I just hope that I haven't tried to be too clever.

Down he came, to earth to dwell,
Eternal Lord, thy presence tell.

Voice proclaiming love and grace,
Often troubled, in that place.

To a tree, we nailed him there,
Exquisite pain for to bear.

Died he for me, my sins to take.