The plain, compelling truth that registers in the mind, like a splinter of glass in the soft tissue of the brain, is that man for all his efforts cannot find God. This is shocking but should not be so. Humans have their limits, in common with all things created, and the wise person acknowledges those limits but find ways to transcend them.
Man, unlike angels, was created with the inability to fly but his ingenuity and resourcefulness led him to manufacture the airplane for flight travel.
Man was rooted to earth and its immediate environs and his only contact with the heavenly bodies was visually. Now man has landed on the moon and could in time colonise it.
Man, unlike the octopus, if unfortunate to lose a member of his body, will not grow a new member naturally. If a foot is lost it is lost for good and the same thing with the hand and other members. Now man is using transplant surgery to change all this.
Advances in knowledge, science and technology has changed the existential landscape and enabled man to go way beyond his inherent limitations. Good or bad, desirable or not, man's reach exceeds his grasp and he thinks he has no limits.
But by his efforts man cannot find God.
All peoples, from time immemorial, have relentlessly searched for God and none, absolutely none, has ever succeeded in their efforts.
What they have succeeded in doing is finding an acceptable image (or images) of what they conceive as God. This is the epitome of religious superstition and ignorance. This is the end product of man's philosophical and intellectual wanderings. Without saying so this superstition and ignorance are what atheist use as their rationale for their rejection of belief in the existence of God.
People the world over, and this is without exception, will resort to the most drastic measures if you are deemed to have insulted their God. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (aka The Three Hebrew Boys) were to be burnt to ashes for not worshipping Babylonian false gods or bowing down to the Babylonian image made by Nebuchadnezzar.
Even the enlightened Greeks, in the classical era of Greek learning and the emergence of philosophical thought a la Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, came up with mind-boggling foolishness; a plethora of gods.
The Romans, following on from the Greeks, had a slate of their own gods and they added to their slate all the gods of the Greeks; sometimes changing the Greek gods' names to Roman names.
But none of them found God.
God has never been amenable to foolishness, not even sincere foolishness. This is the huge gap that man cannot bridge by his efforts and is the seminal example of man's helplessness.
When Job was undergoing his period of affliction, one of his friends, Zophar the Naamathite, asked an important, rhetorical question, "Canst thou by searching find out God?" (Job 11:7)
The answer to this question, though rhetorical, can be answered simply. No you cannot.
God has never permitted anyone, by his initiative through searching, to find him for that would be ceding to man something that expressly belongs to God only.
The only way that man will ever find God, is if God in his grace and mercy chooses to reveal himself to man. This is, and always will be so.
Adam did not go seeking God and found him for it was God, after creating Adam, who revealed himself to Adam and initiated communion with him.
After man lost his way in self-imposed darkness during his pre-Abramic sojourn, it was not Abraham who sought God and found him. No, it was God who sought and found Abraham and initiated communion and covenant with him.
In every case of emergence from darkness to light it was God who found man and initiated the transition process. The Bible in acknowledging this indispensable truth states it like this, "...and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him." (Luke 10:22)
God could so easily have let humanity perish from the face of the earth. Let's face it, humanity in our eyes is irredeemable so why would it be different in the eyes of God?
Here we just have to marvel at the boundless grace and mercy of Almighty God for he left no stone unturned to bring us to salvation.
God fought to save humanity and took the initiative to save those who would believe. Truly anyone who eventually misses out on eternal life, and finds himself in everlasting damnation, will be met with the chilling words of Jesus, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" (Matthew 23:37)
Even when we turn our backs on God, and let's face it we do that often, he nonetheless gives us ample opportunity to reconsider and accept his offer of salvation.
There is scarcely a human being alive that God does not pursue with the offer of salvation. Thinking people do not believe that salvation is for a select few or for certain privileged people. God says that view is wrong and salvation is for everyone and those whom we think are beyond the pale are the very ones, in time, that will become God's chosen.
God extends his love and mercy to every seed of Adam and unfailingly sends his Holy Spirit to urge acceptance of Jesus Christ, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him." (John 6:44)
So how does it work when someone decides that he wants to change his life and commit himself to Jesus? Does not the Bible say, "Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near. " (Isaiah 55:6) and assert most comfortingly, "I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me." (Proverbs 8:17)
This is another facet of the abounding grace and profound love of God for humanity. Even the desire to get saved is given to you by Almighty God. We refer to this act of God as prevenient grace.
God's gift of salvation is like someone drowning in the deep ocean, is thrown a lifeline but is too weak and far-gone to take hold of it, but at the right moment God gives a surge of strength to enable the drowning man to grab hold of it.
This is what Almighty God does for everyone who takes hold of salvation. When our strength and ability, our yearnings and desires and efforts to reach God end in utter failure, then God who searches the hearts and knows the minds of earnest seekers finds us.
God does all this and however you look at it, from every angle and perspective, he is truly awesome.
If you are fair-minded and rational and has a tendency to call a spade a spade, then I hope you will take a fresh look at God; he may give you a pleasant surprise.
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Dr. Henderson Ward received his Doctor of Divinity in theology, with distinction, from Masters International School of Divinity, USA, where he is currently a post-doctoral fellow. Dr. Ward's career involved pastoring, evangelism, and teaching. Copyright 2013