For fifty years – yes, fifty – my agnostic friend, Gary, and I have had the same conversation: Does God exist, or doesn’t He? Does He care for us, or not?
During those discussions, Gary sometimes vacillated between a tentative faith and a confident disbelief. And he never moved beyond the opinion that if there is a God, He rules only in heaven. To this very moment as I type on my keyboard, my childhood friend remains certain God is too busy to involve Himself in the affairs of each of the several billion members of the human family. If God exists, Gary argues, He set earth spinning and then left us to fend for ourselves.
In more ways than he might imagine, Gary sounds like the Arameans of Elijah’s day. If it’s been a while since you’ve read the story, you’ll find it in 1 Kings chapter 20. Don’t let the foreign-sounding names like Ben-hadad, Aram, and Arameans distract you. The narrative is pretty simple to understand, even if you stumble over the names.
Anyway, the Aramean army suffered a defeat at the hands of Ahab, who was the king of Israel at the time. Aram’s superstitious king reasoned: "Their gods are gods of the hills. That is why they were too strong for us. But if we fight them on the plains, surely we will be stronger than they” (1 Kings 20:23).
Sadly – and it will prove tragic if he does not change, Gary is somewhat like the Arameans. He doesn’t understand God is not limited to one place at a time. Nor is he aware of how intimately God knows us -- our thoughts, hopes, dreams, heartaches . . . .
The Arameans lost their battles on the hills and in the valleys because they didn’t believe Almighty God extended beyond the hills. But Gary is in danger of losing something far greater because he won’t accept the truth that God’s embrace extends beyond the billions of men and women on this planet and reaches for his own specific heart.
God is sovereign King of heaven and earth. And He longs to be our closest and most intimate and personal Friend. All we need to do is ask Him to forgive our unbelief and our sins and take us to Himself.
We have His unchangeable promise: He will NEVER turn away any who asks Him for a new life, for a new start.