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Reaching for the Invisible God: What Can We Expect to Find?

Reaching for the Invisible God: What Can We Expect to Find?

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by Philip Yancey

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How does a relationship with God really work? How do I relate to a God who is invisible, when I’m never quite sure he’s there? How do I know him? How do I communicate with him? How do I live my life growing in my understanding of him, living more and more with a conscious awareness of him, doing more of those things he indicates are good for me--and


How does a relationship with God really work? How do I relate to a God who is invisible, when I’m never quite sure he’s there? How do I know him? How do I communicate with him? How do I live my life growing in my understanding of him, living more and more with a conscious awareness of him, doing more of those things he indicates are good for me--and others? Many have found the bright promises people make about God don't work. Others have seen God's promises work, but have stumbled, and want to believe again. Author Philip Yancey pointed out in Disappointment with God some of the false expectations people have in God and his workings. It's time now to turn the coin. In Reaching for the Invisible God Yancey answers the question What Can We Expect from God? with a surprising investigation of how the Christian life really does work. The average person often finds that what they hear in a sermon or read in a Bible corresponds to little of what they experience. Why? When others do experience great things from God, those who sense "business as usual" in their spiritual life ask, "What's wrong with me?" God doesn't do certain things he could--heal, mend, or change--but what does he do? How does God work, and how does he work with me? In taking on these questions Yancey continues his quest to help readers get close to the core of Christian truth and experience. Reaching for the Invisible God develops what we can expect from God by taking readers to six foundational areas: the thirst or hunger for God, God himself, the Spirit, faith, growth, and personal transformation in the spiritual life. Reaching for the Invisible God also explores the personality of God, the choice God made in limiting himself, and the great condescension he made as the Holy Spirit, choosing to live in human beings. Finally, Reaching for the Invisible God comes to an appropriate finish as Yancey writes about growth, about childlike living under God apart from unrealistic expectations, legalisms, and unhealthy dependence. The goal is mature childlikeness, with no preconceptions, an ability to accept gifts from God, and trust, which lead to the responses of love, sacrifice, the denial of self, and servant leadership. In Reaching for the Invisible God Philip Yancey writes with honesty about the Christian life, about how to get along with God, how to believe again, and about the Reaching for the Invisible God of faith, or the things people never told you about the Christian life. It's the real scoop and straight talk about the truth--like an operating manual for faith. It is for the reader seeking to be honest with God. And it will help anyone wanting to explain to friends what life as a Christian is all about.

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Once again, Philip Yancey's exploration of a religious problem is responsive to both its personal urgency and theological implications. Here the question posed seems simple: What can we as believers expect from God?
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
HPopular theologian Yancey (The Jesus I Never Knew; What's So Amazing About Grace?) steers clear of trite detours, inviting readers to travel through some of the most difficult aspects of nurturing a human relationship with a transcendent God. Drawing upon wide experience and a rich well of stories, Yancey considers honestly the predicaments of human existence. We are distracted with the daily grind, checking our e-mail more often than we meditate. We banish doubts in the name of more streamlined versions of success and self-fulfillment. Christians in particular, Yancey says, are often guilty of worshipping the impossible while failing to believe in the possible--that relationship of grace God extends to humankind daily. With common sense and a poetic sensibility, Yancey poses fruitful questions and offers real insights. In the search for signposts of the invisible God, Yancey beckons readers to the Bible to encounter God's loving and gracious personality. Without clich s, he reminds us that doubt and difficulty can be catalysts for intimacy with God. And with humor and fair wisdom, he talks about seeking the Holy Spirit: "To reach for the Spirit is like hunting for your eyeglasses while wearing them." In conversation with the many sages he cites--C.S. Lewis, Thomas Merton and Umberto Eco, to name a few--Yancey is at once pastoral and provocative. Meet a friend. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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Read an Excerpt

Born Again BreechOh God, I —don't love you, I —don't even want to love you, but I want to want to love you! Teresa of Avila One year my wife and I visited Peru, the country where Janet spent her childhood. We traveled to Cuzco and Machu Picchu to view relics of the grand Incan civilization that achieved so much without the benefit of an alphabet or knowledge of the wheel. On a grassy plateau outside Cuzco we stood next to a wall formed of towering gray stones that weighed as much as seventeen tons each. "The stones you see were cut by hand and assembled in the wall without mortar—so precisely that you cannot insert a sheet of paper between them," our Peruvian guide boasted. "Not even modern lasers can cut so accurately. No one knows how the Incas did it. Which of course is why Erich von Daniken suggests in the book Chariots of the Gods that an advanced civilization from outer space must have visited the Incas." Someone in our group asked about the engineering involved in transporting those massive stones over mountainous terrain without the use of wheels. The Incas left no written records, which prompts many such questions. Our guide stroked his chin thoughtfully and then leaned forward as if to divulge a major secret. "Well, it's like this . . ." The group grew quiet. Pronouncing each word with care, he said, "We know the tools . . . but we —don't know the instruments." A look of satisfaction crossed his sunburned face. As we all stared at him blankly, waiting for more, the guide turned and resumed the tour. For him this cryptic answer had solved the puzzle. Over the next few days, in response to other questions he repeated the phrase, which held some significance for him that eluded the rest of us. After we left Cuzco, it became a standing joke in our group. Whenever someone would ask, say, if it might rain that afternoon, another would reply in a Spanish accent, "Well . . . we know the tools, but we —don't know the instruments." That enigmatic phrase came to mind recently when I attended a reunion with several classmates from a Christian college. Though we had not seen each other for twenty years, we quickly moved past chitchat toward a deeper level of intimacy. All of us had struggled with faith, yet still gladly identified ourselves as Christians. All of us had known pain. We updated each other, telling first of children, careers, geographical moves, and graduate degrees. Then conversation turned darker: parents with Alzheimer's disease, divorced classmates, chronic illnesses, moral failures, children molested by church staff. In the end we concluded that God is far more central to our lives now than during our college days. But as we recalled some of the language used to describe spiritual experience then, it seemed almost unintelligible. In theology classes twenty-five years before, we had studied Spirit-filled living, sin and the carnal nature, sanctification, the abundant life. None of these doctrines, however, had worked out in the way we anticipated. To explain a life of spiritual ecstasy to a person who spends all day taking care of a cranky, bedwetting Alzheimer's parent is like explaining Inca ruins by saying, "We know the tools, but we —don't know the instruments." The language simply —doesn't convey the meaning. Words used in church tend to confuse —people. The pastor proclaims that "Christ himself lives in you" and "we are more than conquerors," and although these words may stir up a wistful sense of longing, for many —people they hardly apply to day-to-day experience. A sex addict hears them, prays for deliverance, and that night gives in yet again to an unsolicited message in his e-mail folder from someone named Candy or Heather who promises to fulfill his hottest fantasies. A woman sitting on the same pew thinks of her teenage son confined to a halfway house because of his drug abuse. She did the best she could as a parent, but God has not answered her prayers. Does God love her son less than she does? Many others no longer make it to church, including some three million Americans who identify themselves as evangelical Christians yet never attend church. Perhaps they flamed briefly, in an InterVarsity or Campus Crusade group in college, then faded away and never reignited. As one of John Updike's characters remarked in A Month of Sundays, "I have no faith. Or, rather, I have faith but it —doesn't seem to apply." I listen to such —people and receive letters from many more. They tell me the spiritual life did not make a lasting difference for them. What they experienced in person seemed of a different order than what they heard described so confidently from the pulpit. To my surprise, many do not blame the church or other Christians. They blame themselves. Consider this letter from a man in Iowa: I know there is a God: I believe He exists, I just —don't know what to believe of Him. What do I expect from this God? Does He intervene upon request (often/seldom), or am I to accept His Son's sacrifice for my sins, count myself lucky and let the relationship go at that? I accept that I'm an immature believer: that my expectations of God are obviously not realistic. I guess —I've been disappointed enough times that I simply pray for less and less in order not to be disappointed over and over. What is a relationship with God supposed to look like anyway? What should we expect from a God who says we are His friends? That baffling question of relationship keeps cropping up in the letters. How do you sustain a relationship with a being so different from any other, imperceptible by the five senses? I hear from an inordinate number of —people struggling with these questions—their letters prompted, I suppose, by books —I've written with titles like Where Is God When It Hurts? and Disappointment with God.

Meet the Author

Philip Yancey serves as editor-at-large for Christianity Today magazine. He has written thirteen Gold Medallion Award-winning books and won two ECPA Book of the Year awards for What's So Amazing About Grace? and The Jesus I Never Knew. Four of his books have sold over one million copies. Yancey lives with his wife in Colorado.  Website: www.philipyancey.com



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Reaching for the Invisible God: What Can We Expect to Find? 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have never considered myself a person of great faith. I've struggled with guilt and frustration over my inability to 'know' the things about God that my peers claim to 'know'. Yancey's book helped redeem the years of seeking and struggling to believe. It is a book filled with hope and insight that has utterly changed the way I understand faith, doubt and my relationship with God.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago