I didn’t spend much time thinking about God for most of my life.
And I had lots of company, because the people I hung around, read about, and saw on television or in movies didn’t seem to think about God either.
Looking back, it strikes me that there were 3 main reasons I wasn’t thinking about God, and these same root causes seem to apply to many people in today’s world:
1. I didn’t need God.
I had everything under control myself. (At least, I thought I did.) I was sure I could handle life on my own by planning well, being productive, and increasing my skills. If there was a goal I wanted to achieve, all I had to do was work harder and I could get it.
It seems that many business professionals, doctors, lawyers, educators, and those in similar professions believe they are smart enough, in-control enough, or capable enough to handle life on their own. And lots of entertainers, sports stars, politicians, and the wealthy are confident they are famous enough, rich enough, or powerful enough to have no need for a god to help them get by.
It is quite natural and inevitable that, if we spend sixteen hours daily of our waking lives in thinking about the affairs of the world and five minutes in thinking about God and our souls, this world will seem two hundred times more real to us than God. (William Ralph Inge)
2. I didn’t want God.
I was focused primarily on personal enjoyment and self-satisfaction. A God who might have rules that could limit my sometimes-questionable personal choices could get in the way of me having a good time. Even as a young adult, I didn’t want to grow up or become responsible: I wanted to have fun!
A lot of teenagers and 20-somethings seem to fit this category. But, how many older people still get their biggest satisfaction from the next vacation or recreational event? Or that new house or car, or those clothes or golf clubs they’ve been wanting? Or just by zoning out and watching TV?
If we don’t think about God, everything ends up being about “me” and my own comfort. (Pope Francis)
3. I didn’t know God.
I didn’t have the time or inclination to go to church. The Bible was a dusty book on a shelf, and prayer was the occasional wish that God would do something for me. I wasn’t reading or listening to spiritual material, and there was no one in my life talking to me about God.
Growing up, some people were never involved enough with God to get to know him well. Or, maybe they used to enjoy thinking about God, perhaps were even passionate in their faith, but time and the busy-ness of life created distance in that relationship.
What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. (A. W. Tozer)
Thinking About God
As I got older, it seemed that God kept intruding into my life, and I had to work harder to not think about him. I threw myself more deeply into fun, adventures, work, career advancement, making money, competence, knowledge, and just staying busy. But, none of those activities led me to any deep satisfaction about the meaning of life, so alcohol became a go-to method to get by.
I went a long time not thinking about God. Eventually, the fruitfulness of that way of living became questionable, and the long-term outcome frightening. Once I started to realize, then accept, God’s role in my life, it changed everything. Now, it is an integrated part of who I am that:
- I need God. I depend on God’s guidance. Knowing he is ultimately in control of my life is reassuring, and it lessens the worries in my life. I need God all the time and, during trials, I need him desperately. Frankly, I don’t see how I ever got by without God.
- I want God. I still like having fun, but the contentment in trying to live God’s way is far better than the short-lived thrill of doing whatever feels good at the time. And the purpose found in being part of God’s plan brings a significance not found through more self-serving pursuits.
- I know God. I am deeply thankful for the privilege of having a relationship with the Creator of the Universe. I hear God through his Word in the Bible, feel his presence in my life, and know him more intimately through his Son, Jesus Christ.
It’s your choice to not think about God, but it may take some work. To avoid thinking about God, you may have to not think about many other areas as well, such as: the origin of life, nature, meaning and purpose, the Bible, scientific evidence for God, Jesus, tough times, and death.
There are lots of smart and well-meaning people who don’t spend much time thinking about God. But, as they move on, they may find that becoming more difficult to rationalize as a way of living. If that is you, I understand, because I’ve been there. And I have just one question:
How’s that working out for you?
Question: During an average day, how much time do you spend thinking about God?
Action: Scan the articles on “Understanding God and Faith” and read those that interest you.