Positive Thinking expert Norman Vincent Peale's tips for reconnecting with your faith.
Posted in , Nov 10, 2008
One question asked by individuals striving for more faith is "How can I feel God's presence in my life?" People yearn to develop the close relationship with God that they have with loved ones here on earth.
The standard answers are 1) read the Bible, 2) go to church and 3) pray. But these do not satisfy everyone because the question comes back, "How do I do these things in such a way that I shall feel his presence?"
One obstacle blocking people from finding communion with God is their inability to picture God in human form. But Jesus is easy to picture and understand. We know he loved poor and rich, holy and unholy, educated and unschooled alike. So one way we can build a satisfying personal relationship with God is through Jesus and his warm personality.
If you have a misunderstanding with a close friend, or an unpleasant situation estranges you temporarily from a relative, the only Christian thing to do is to get together with that person, ask forgiveness, and talk over the situation until your relationship is restored. So if you feel the same separateness from God, wouldn't it be logical to follow the same procedure—talk things over humbly and sincerely? I've known people who have done this. Here is how it happened to one woman I'll call Sarah.
Sorrowing over the loss of a close friend, beset with money problems and upset over her husband's drinking, Sarah felt a need for communion with God. She prayed regularly but somehow she felt her prayers weren't getting through.
One day Sarah went for a walk in the country near her home. Ahead she saw a small church. The front door was open, so she stepped inside and sat in a pew. The sanctuary seemed bleak. The pulpit needed painting, the walls were bare, and the altar was plain. In fact, the only sacred effect in the church was a picture of Christ above the altar.
Sarah's eyes rested on this picture. She wondered what it would have been like to have lived during Jesus' time on earth. To have had the opportunity of serving him food, washing his feet—what a privilege! Sarah continued to look at the picture and imagine herself as his helper. Jesus became more and more alive to her. Soon she felt his presence so strongly that she began talking to him.
"Lord, I wish I could have served you then," Sarah said softly.
My child, you serve me now when I have more need of you....
"But I have so many troubles.... My faith seems so feeble.... I know so little.... I do want to please you."
You need not know much to please me. Only love me dearly. And never hesitate to tell me your troubles.
"But you have so many who need you."
None more important than you. But tell me also of your joys and your dreams. I want to share all of your life.
"How can I be a better mother and wife?"
Remember that I love your husband and your children. I will be with you always. Confide in me and you will never have to face anything alone.
Suddenly the church was luminescent with beauty. The bare walls and paint-starved furnishings took on warmth. There was peace and fulfillment inside Sarah.
It made no difference that some of her friends attributed this conversation to her imagination. What happened belonged to Sarah alone. Jesus had been with her in the church—I have no doubt of it.
Most significant, however, is the way Sarah went about finding this relationship sought by so many. She did not sit idly, praying selfishly that God would come to her and make everything right. Literally she could say the words of Psalm 34:4: "I sought the Lord, and he heard me.... " She hungered enough for God to go out and seek him. She gave herself completely, thinking only of how she could serve. And what happened? The Lord heard her—and answered.