There’s a story from 19th century Boston where philosophical clubs are all the rage. A man is fascinated by the debate over freewill and determinism, but he can’t decide which club to join. In the end, he opts for the Determinists’ Association. “Why do you wish to join?” they ask. “Of my own freewill” he replies only to have the door shut in his face. Despairingly, he crosses the street to knock on the door of the Freewill Club. “Why do you want to join?” asks the doorkeeper. “Well I was refused entry at the Determinists Association and that left me with no choice but to join yourselves.” With that, a second door shuts.
“My first act of free will shall be to believe in free will.” wrote the pragmatic thinker William James. For him, some things in life just couldn’t be settled by reason and science alone. He saw the God debate as another such area of life, arguments and proof being of less interest to him than the difference belief made in people’s lives.
Yet James may have made more progress in his search for God if he first asked, “If he does exist and is personal, am I willing to be known by God?” If God is personal, he’s relational; more interested in transformation of the heart rather than reasonable belief in the head. Such a God can remain hidden from the learned and known to little children. Indeed we may already have seen him face to face without even realising it.
Father God, Sometimes you seem elusive or hidden. Yet you have promised that if we seek you with all our heart, you will let us find you. Help us open our eyes today to the thousand places that you play. Amen.