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Love of God

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I cannot think of a greater question that needs to be answered without equivocation, than the question of the existence of God - the uncaused reality who in turn causes or affects our world. I was about 21 years old when I began to think seriously about this question. I practiced the religion of my parents, until I came to realize that I would have adopted any religion that they had passed on to me. This recognition was disconcerting because I knew that the various faiths in the world do not agree on some fundamental or practical matters, such as: whether revenge, multiple marriage, capital punishment, or forgiveness - to name just a few - are divinely sanctioned. I saw then that much of what passes as religious education or explanation, amounts to unsubstantiated myth or brainwashing. I wanted answers, but I was certain that no one could satisfactorily persuade me. I had no doubt that a Rabbi, an Imam or a Priest would all swear to me that his or her faith, is the true one, and that all others are pretenders. 

One day, everything changed for me after I went for a walk and said words similar to these: God, I am not sure that You exist, but if You do, I would like to know You. The first thing that occurred to me after saying these words was: Why do you want to know God?  In other words, what was I looking for from God? My response was that I wanted God to mold me and to make me into what He wanted me to be. While I believed that I had the free will to make my own choices - in particular choices involving conscience - I was at this point not happy with the way my life was unfolding. And so, I wanted God, if God exists, to change things for me and to help me.  Intuitively, I felt that a god had to be loving and compassionate and must, as the cause of human life, love people. I said: God, make me an instrument of Your love, mold me as you see fit. 

Yet, at the same time, I was scared of the possible repercussions of my words - what if God asks me to do something that I would not want to do, etc.? I was open and I reasoned that a fair and good God would certainly not bring misery to a soul in search of answers. These were the pleas of a desperate young man who was beginning to better appreciate the nature and consequences of his choices and who wanted to live a life in which he was at peace with his conscience and which was consistent with logic. 

Within a week or two of my plea, I had my first dream of God. In the dream, God asked me whether I wanted to die and be born again in a much better state, or whether I wished to continue life the way that I was. I chose not to die. When I woke up, I related the dream to my then girlfriend, now my wife. The next day, while attempting to cross a road, we both came within inches from being mowed down by a fellow who was reading a newspaper on his lap, as he drove at high speed through a cross walk. 

Another experience occurred when I was a first-year medical student at a prestigious university. Just three years from being granted a medical degree, I felt very good with life, so good that as I sat on my couch one evening I thought about some of the problems in the world: endless wars, the existence of weapons of mass destruction, human pain and suffering. I felt for God. I was saddened and sorry that God had so much to contend with and so I said: God, I do not want you to spend any more time or energy looking after me. Please look after the rest of the world and I will look after myself from now on, I will no longer burden you. Within seconds of uttering these words, my world nearly collapsed! Unfamiliar and very painful things began happening to me and I was powerless to control or to understand them. I immediately realized the connection between what I had said and what I was experiencing. I retracted my words and instantly everything returned to normal. Incidentally, after I related the incident to my wife, she told me that she too at one time had an identical experience. The conclusion that I draw from this is that the Spirit of God sustains us.  

About a year after I called upon God, I was approached by a stranger on the university campus, who asked me if I knew who Jesus was. Not having been brought up with Christian faith, I told the chap that Jesus was a good and godly teacher, or a prophet and obviously a well-meaning man. The fellow insisted that Jesus was the son of God. If Jesus was the son of God, who then was God's wife?, I asked. We parted ways without resolving our differences. But later that evening, at home having supper, I remembered the conversation, and so I closed my eyes and asked God whether my views were closer to the truth regarding  nature of Jesus or whether the other fellow was closer to the truth. I then saw a vision of Jesus, in a scene where he was suggesting to his disciples that he would not be attending the Feast of Tabernacles (which he later attended). I became convinced at that moment that the idea that Jesus was the Son of God, was closer to the truth. Excited with this revelation, I turned to my wife and I asked her the same question: who was Jesus? And to my surprise she gave me more or less that same answer that I gave to the fellow. Have you ever met Jesus, or have you met anyone that has met him?, I asked her, before inviting her to take the question directly to God. Around 2 a.m. that morning, she woke me up to tell me that she had prayed to God, and that God appeared to her in her sleep and said to her: What you and your husband were talking about is true: Jesus is me. 

I certainly realized very early in my journey that if God exists then God has chosen not to give us formal evidence of his existence, such as would be the case if God directly produced books. Jesus of Nazareth also chose not to leave us with his hand-written manuscripts. Instead, the inspired Scripture that we have is sometimes contradicted and has many add-ons. I believe that God knows that it is unnecessary, and perhaps even counterproductive, in light of our free will, to write the book of life. God is recognizable by anyone who aspires to a purer state of mind, and not all people read and write. In this respect, it is not just the physical body that we wear, that continues to evolve, but our awareness which, I believe, is a spiritual manifestation, is also meant to keep changing for the better. 

I believe in God, because the things that I have come to associate with my God experience, since the late seventies - love, wisdom, patience, forbearance, diligence, fidelity, integrity, peace-loving, tolerance, a non-judgmental attitude, respect for others, self-discipline of thought - what I say or do not say, love of God (as manifested in a willingness to stick with discipline) all of these things are manifestly conducive to a good and enjoyable life. I know of no better and rewarding lifestyle than adherence to the basic teachings of Jesus. 

Largely based on personal experience, I accept that the pith and substance of the New Testament is consistent with the presupposition of a loving and all-knowing existence, particularly as it relates to the core teachings of Jesus, love, forgiveness, humility and self-discipline. And I concur with the conclusion of historian W. E. H. Lecky, that the character of Jesus (as portrayed in the New Testament), has not only been the highest pattern of virtue, but the strongest incentive to its practice, and has exerted so deep an influence, that it may be truly said that the simple record of three years of active life has done more to regenerate and to soften mankind, than all the disquisitions of philosophers and the exhortations of moralists. 

I suggest respectfully, that there are at least two ways to experience first hand, unequivocally, the involvement of a higher power in human affairs. The first method is by promising oneself that one will never take a decision or act in a way that is contrary to one'/s conscience: whether in thought, action, or inaction. I believe that our nature is unable to sustain spiritual independence from the divine presence, and as such, a serious attempt to be perfect without involving God soon reveals this fact and many other realities about God. 

The other way is to invite God, if in fact God exists, to continue to mold you as God sees fit. 

Life is a serious business. There is a lot of pain and suffering in our world, much, if not all, brought on by the poor choices we make as adults. Mature faith, the type that we mostly desire - powerful, comforting, inspiring, and rational, at least in the sense that it aids and abets our conscience and our sense of fairness, does not emerge from philosophical debates or through deductive reasoning. Instead, our faith and understanding grow when we resolve and strive to take our conscience seriously. I respectfully submit, that two primary goals of human existence, are self knowledge and love of God.  It is difficult to go through life without addressing many troubling questions such as, Why people suffer, why are there natural disasters? I have always believed that God is willing to help us understand the issues that trouble us, and so I regularly take my questions to God. While I cannot say that I understand all things or that I have the solution to every mystery, I am very content regarding the extent of my self knowledge especially as it relates to the relationship between my character, the choices I make and pain in my life. I am a creature, and as such, I have no way of knowing for certain what I do not already know. What awareness I experience is largely out of my control. And so, I strive to be open to new experiences, but these experiences are filtered through my rationality.

Elvis Iginla