Universal symphony conducted by God
Zalman Tiechtel, rabbi, Chabad Jewish Community Center, 1203 W. 19th St.:
Many times one may wonder: It would be nice to think that I could have a personal relationship with God, that I could feel he's pleased with me, or that I matter in some way to him. But I'm a rational person. I can relate to a God who invented physics and the time-space continuum; who brought electromagnetism, gravity and the nuclear forces into being; who set electrons in their orbits and photons in their paths - the whole thing is totally awesome. But how can you talk about a personal relationship with such a God?
Do you ever look at the sun and smile at the sight of a bright day? Did you ever return home and have your child waiting to greet you with a big hug? Are you ever having a tough day and then all your worries melt away? Surely you must have experienced one of the above.
The universe is a symphony; God is its conductor. Every atom, every breath of wind, every grain of sand is tracked and guided by the ultimate supercomputer: God. This is divine providence - the concept that God didn't create the universe and then step back to let it run by itself, but that he remains actively involved, pulling levers, pushing buttons and flipping switches behind the scenes.
The saying goes: "If you're looking for God, go home." God is not to be found on some other planet, or in some spiritual hideout. Rather, he is within us. It's not where we search in life; rather, it's the way we look at life.
God could have said, "Here am I and, bang, here's a world. It works. That's good enough."
But he wanted a world where its creatures could reach up to him and he would reach down to them, until an affinity between creation and creator would develop and he could be found within his masterpiece.
So he made a bridge by providing us the opportunity to find him within our daily lives. By reaching to God in a personal way, involving all our mind and all our heart, reaching to him in our prayer and through our daily experience, we are touching the divine and making it real in our world.
- Send e-mail to Zalman Tiechtel at email@example.com.
God is 'with us, for us, among us'
The Rev. Ji Seok Ju, pastor, Centenary United Methodist Church, 245 N. Fourth St.:
I know there have been times when I felt God's presence in my life.
It is obvious that God's presence is felt in my ministry setting, especially in the church where I am serving. I feel God's presence in our worship, when I listen to Scripture reading and hear God's word, when the choir sings, when hymns are sung, when I pray, and when I have fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ.
However, God's presence is encountered not only in the church but also outside the church where I am in my ordinary daily life.
I recall one time when I most strongly felt the presence of God, which was when I was driving on the highway one day to visit my friend in Chicago. I brought with me some CDs to listen to while driving, and one of them was a Korean contemporary Christian song. I believe it was about 11 p.m., I was still on the highway, and all of a sudden one song from the CD just hit my heart. The song was based on Psalm 62, written by King David: "For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress, I shall never be shaken."
It was such an overwhelming moment that I found myself crying, singing along and asking God to be my rock, my salvation and my fortress so that I will never be shaken. That night in the car - that's where I most strongly felt God's presence and heard God's voice speaking to me in my heart. That experience has been a source of strength for me in times of difficulty.
Throughout history, God has desired to manifest his glorious presence among his people. God's people in the Old and New testaments encountered God's presence in one way or another. The same God continues to dwell with and in his people, and that's where we meet with God. That's where we hear God's voice. God is everywhere with us, for us and among us, because God is Immanuel - "God with us."
- Send e-mail to Ji Seok Ju at firstname.lastname@example.org.