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A Conversation with GodIf You Could Ask God Any Question, What Would It Be?
By Alton Gansky
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2010 GRQ, Inc.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneGod, who are You? What are You?
A survey of history shows one thing: humans are a curious lot. Humans are good at many things—building tall buildings and bridges that span the widest gorge, for instance—but the thing humans seem best at is asking questions. Many questions asked are trivial in nature; others, however, reach to the deepest parts of the soul. Few are those who have gazed into the night sky and not wondered about God. While many ridicule the thought of God, far more wonder who He is and what He is like.
From the beginning, men and women have wondered about God and his nature. In his book Knowing God, J. I. Packer wrote, "Once you become aware that the main business that you are here for is to know God, most of life's problems fall into place of their own accord."
God, who are You? What are You? Is it possible for us to know the answers to these questions, or is it impossible for mere humans to understand You?
That's a simple question. It's also a question with a complex answer. I'm unique in all creation. Before there was history, I was. Before there was a universe, I was. Before there was anything, including time itself, I was. I am the Creator of all things. All that you see, you see because I brought it into being. There is no one like Me. There are no other gods.
My uniqueness makes it difficult for humans to understand Me. Humans relate to one another because they are similar. Every human knows what it is to laugh, weep, feel joy, draw back in fear, and love. When one human looks at another, he or she sees all the similarities shared by people. I, on the other hand, have no counterpart. No one fills the universe as I do; no one has the same kind of power; no one shares all My knowledge; and I alone am unbound by time and space.
In many ways, however, I am similar to you. This is natural because when I created man and woman, I created them in My image. That means we share many attributes. Does that surprise you? It shouldn't. Many of the things that make you unique in your world are attributes that make Me unique in the universe.
People who have not taken the time to learn about Me think of Me as a "thing." What you must understand is that I am not a thing, but a person. What makes a person? A person has three characteristics: intellect, emotion, and will.
I am a Being with intellect, which means I think. I'm not a distant, invisible, force. I am someone who reasons and communicates. In other words, I have thoughts. You are the direct result of those thoughts.
But more than someone who thinks, I am someone who feels. As you read the Bible, you will find that many emotions are attributed to Me: joy, anger, sadness, love, forgiveness, and even jealousy. Don't let that last one unsettle you. Jealousy is not the same as envy. Envy is wanting what someone else has. I don't feel envy. Jealousy is the fear of losing what you have. When a husband is jealous over his wife, he worries that he might be losing her. I am jealous for all My creation, and especially you. You, and every other human, matter to Me.
I also have will. Some people call it volition. Will means that not only can I think and feel emotions, but that I also make decisions. I have free will and the ability to make choices, as do you. I'm not a mindless force; I'm a reasoning Being. Don't think of Me as a thing, but as a person.
As an apostle, I had two primary goals: first, to make the world aware of Jesus and His sacrifice; second, to make sure Christians everywhere understood as much as they could about God and His Son, Jesus. I have to confess, that was not always easy. To describe God is to describe the indescribable. I spent most of my adult life trying to make clear to anyone and everyone how special God is.
We Hebrews had many names for God. Each described some aspect or element of His character. For example, El Shaddai means "almighty God." El Elyon means "the God most high." The Old Testament is filled with such names, all of which attempt to help us understand who God is and what He is like. The name most commonly ascribed to God is Jehovah. The ancient Hebrews pronounced the name Yahweh. It means "I Am" and refers to God's eternal nature. That name alone appears more than seven thousand times in the Old Testament. The nature and magnitude of God are so great that it's impossible to have a single name for Him.
Humans share many attributes with God the Father. You think, you have emotions, and you have will just as He does. But some attributes you do not share. For example, God is omnipotent. That means He is all-powerful. Nothing is beyond His strength and ability. God is omniscient. He knows all things. There is no limit to His knowledge. Not only does He know everything that is, but He knows everything that was and everything that will be. He even knows everything that "can" be.
God is eternal. Don't confuse that with immortal, which means that God cannot die. True as that is, eternal means that He has always been. There has never been a time when God wasn't; there will never be a time when God isn't.
God is supreme and absolute. No one is greater than He is, and He is not dependent on anyone. God is the only One you can call perfect. He is holy and sinless.
While you share some of His attributes and some of His nature, He remains different from you. During my earthly ministry, I passed through a region called Samaria. While resting at a well, I encountered a woman, and we carried on a conversation in which I corrected her view of God and worship. I told her, "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."
Here is where many people become confused. God has no physical form. As I told the woman at the well in Samaria, God is Spirit. To properly understand God, to properly worship Him, you must first understand that He occupies everyplace at all times. There is no place where God is not. The prophet Amos had a vision of the Lord, who said He was on both the mountaintop and the ocean bottom. This means He can occupy your home and your heart.
God cannot be seen. As I told the disciples, "No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father."
Because of this, many have assumed I don't exist. Throughout the centuries, artists have attempted to portray Me in human form. Michelangelo saw Me as a large man with a white beard reaching a finger out to give Adam the spark of life. As a symbol, such artwork is fine, but it doesn't capture the reality of My existence.
I live in and beyond the realm that you see. Heaven is my home. Any attempt to picture Me will fail. As advanced and remarkable as I created your brain, it is incapable of fully understanding Me. This is not arrogance on My part; it's just a statement of fact. Your brain has a limited capacity, and I'm an unlimited Being.
Don't let this dissuade you from searching to know more about Me. A swimming pool cannot hold the whole ocean, but it can hold enough to tell you a great deal. The highest purpose a person can have is to seek Me and to know Me. I have put My yearning in you. Don't set it aside.
Remember, I am a Who and not a what. I am a person, and you share many of My qualities and abilities. You are a person because I'm a person; you have emotion because I have emotion; you have the power of choice because I have the power of choice.
I am your Creator. I am your God.
One of my prophets said, "You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart."
I am knowable.
Chapter TwoGod, how can we believe that You created us?
There is perhaps no more contentious debate than that of origins. Lawsuits have been filed against schools and teachers for teaching some form of creationism in the classroom. The "Scopes monkey trial" put the topic in the newspapers of 1925, and it's been there ever since. To some it may seem a minor point of disagreement; to others it is a life-changing cause. How humans came to be is more than an exercise in academics; it is foundational to belief in God and beliefs about God. The teaching of evolution is so prevalent and its proponents so insistent that any other voice is shouted down and the speaker called a fool.
Beliefs about origins matter at every level of life.
God, did You really create us? If so, how can we know? So many educated people teach that we are the result of chance, not direct creation. Can they be right?
Yes, you are My creation. You are My design. You are My art. Many people deny that; they want you to believe that accident and fortunate happenstance resulted in all you see and all you are. Does that sound right to you? Does that feel right to you? It doesn't. Here's why: there is an unbreakable link between you the created and Me the Creator. There is within you and within everyone the ability to recognize My handiwork. The proof of creation is all around you.
When I created the universe, I put your world in just the right spot in its galaxy. If it were much closer to the center of the Milky Way, life would be impossible. The same is true for planet Earth. Look at the other planets. Each one is beautiful in its way. There are rocky planets and moons as well as gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn. Yet your planet is the only one close enough to the sun to have heat and far enough away to maintain an atmosphere in which you can breathe. Is that an accident? The night sky testifies to creation.
You are 70 percent water living on a planet that has water covering two-thirds of the surface. The oceans, the plants, and the weather make it possible for you and all living things to live and thrive. The other planets are lifeless. Only the one I made for you can support complicated life.
Some scientists have used their knowledge to declare that I don't exist, but a great many scientists know how complex and intricately designed life is. Biology is proof of My creation. Your body is an engine that converts food into energy, which in turn contributes to growth and life. That is no accident. In your blood are cells whose sole purpose is to find, recognize, capture, and dispose of contaminates. Scientists call this miracle phagocytosis. The process is extremely complex. I made it so.
The key to seeing creation is the willingness to look. Evidence is everywhere: from the complexity of plants to the intricacies of your mind. There is no lack of evidence, only a lack of belief.
You might wonder why there is such a reluctance to believe in a personal creation. There is a reason. To believe that God created everything is to believe in God—and that admission demands a change in the person. Some people would rather believe that everything came to be by accident than believe there is a God to whom they are accountable.
Questions regarding creation cause the believer to think of his or her relationship with God. For that reason, many choose to believe in other things. This is not new. The apostle Paul dealt with such people in his ministry. He wrote, "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised."
You can see how sad this is. To avoid obligation or admitting that there is a God, people will embrace almost any other idea and think they're making an intelligent decision, but in truth they have missed wisdom.
I am often called the wisest man who ever lived. Of course, I take no credit for my wisdom. God offered me a gift, and wisdom was my choice.
The event is recorded in the Bible: "God gave Solomon wisdom and very great discernment and breadth of mind, like the sand that is on the seashore. Solomon's wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the sons of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men."
That supernatural wisdom gave me insight into the actions of men but also into the way the world worked. The more I learned, the clearer God's creation became. I wrote thousands of proverbs. Here's one of them: "Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth." Look around you; search for the truth, and you will see God's fingerprints over the world and over you. Knowing we have a Creator makes us wise.
Think of birth—not just human birth but any birth. How is it possible that you, because of an intimate act between your parents, could come to be from microscopic cells? How can the same genetic material that makes your bones hard and solid also make the soft, clear lens of your eye? There are more cells in your body than there are galaxies in the universe. Sixty thousand miles of blood vessels run through your body. The very act of breathing—drawing oxygen from the air and using it to keep cells alive—is a miracle of design.
Some make boastful noise about creating an organic molecule or recombining strands of DNA, but, as remarkable as that is, it's a tiny accomplishment compared to creating life that thinks, functions in a social environment, reproduces, grows the food it needs, and cares for others.
The greatest proof of personal creation doesn't come from philosophical arguments or books on apologetics. The greatest proof comes from an open mind and open eyes.
Not long ago, an atheist went on a solo camping trip. He wanted time alone to think. In the mountains of California he found a beautiful area to pitch his tent. There were no other campers in sight; he was alone in My creation. On the second day of his trip, he rested in front of his tent. Next to him grew a small flower. It captured his attention. He was a well-educated man and had studied botany. He had been taught how plants draw nutrients and water from the ground and how chlorophyll converts sunlight into energy. He then thought about how plants reproduce and about the roles that insects like bees play in continuing certain plant species. The more he thought, the more he wondered about the complexity and the beauty of organic structures like plants and animals.
That night he stared at the stars and listened to the sounds of life in the forest. And he thought. The more he thought, the more convinced he became that he lived in a world of design and not accident. That night, he and I became family.
You were created to grow and prosper. You were created to experience life. You were created to learn and explore everything around you. There is no sin in learning. Still, your race has a tendency to find substitutes for the Father. In the past, some people have created false gods to please themselves. Today, some people do not want a Creator, especially a Creator who wants a personal relationship, a Creator who can make demands.
It is easier for many to believe in random chance rather than in God, who wants nothing but the best for them. King David knew he was a created being. He said, "I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well."
If you will open your eyes, open your mind, and open your soul, you will find evidence of My creation of the universe and, more important, My hands-on creation of you. The more you know, the more proof you will have. I am your Creator.
Chapter ThreeGod, who are we to You?
All people want to know they matter to someone—that their lives have meaning and value. It is so easy to feel insignificant in a world with a population approaching seven billion. What is one person in a sea of billions? In view of the fact that humans live such a short time, just eighty years or so, their lives seem inconsequential. So it's not unusual to ask about ourselves and our lives from God's point of view.
If God is all-powerful, and people are weak by comparison; if God is all-knowing, and people's knowledge of life and the universe is limited; then it seems fair to wonder if people have any real value.
God, who are we to You? Do we have any value to You? You are so great and we are so tiny that it is hard to believe that You can have any interest in us.
This is not a new question. Even the most faithful of My people have struggled to find a believable answer. No man was more faithful than Job, and he asked, "What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention?" Centuries later, King David wrote this question: "What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?" The question was so important to him, he asked again: "Why do we humans mean anything to you, our lord? Why do you care about us?" The question is so universal among My followers that it was repeated a thousand years later by the writer of Hebrews: "What is man, that You remember him? Or the son of man, that You are concerned about him? You have made him for a little while lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, and have appointed him over the works of Your hands; You have put all things in subjection under his feet."
Excerpted from A Conversation with God by Alton Gansky Copyright © 2010 by GRQ, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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