Have you ever considered if there are different ways to which we can experience God's presence? I want to begin a 4-part series on the ways in which we can experience His presence. To help us understand the different ways, I want to refer to a philosophy professor and author at USC by the name of Dallas Willard. In his book, Hearing God, he outlines four different ways a person can experience the presence of God. The following is a diagram I put together to give you a visual picture of the four ways we can experience God with us. For this first week, we will discuss blind faith.
1. Blind Faith
The first way mentioned by Dallas is what he calls “blind” faith. I find this to be the essence of Hebrews 11:1,
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for
and certain of what we do not see.
This faith is about believing despite not seeing or feeling God’s presence. We just have this confidence and trust in God’s presence.
Example of Blind Faith
There is a great example of this in the book of Daniel. Daniel chapter 3 tells the story of the three brothers (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) who exemplified this way of experiencing God’s presence on their way to the fiery furnace. They were on their way to being martyred for not bowing down to an idol. They believed in God even if they didn’t feel or sense His presence. They believed in God even if He didn’t step in and save them. This is the essence of verses 17-18,
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace,
the God we serve is able to save us from it,
and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.
But even if he does not, we want you to know,
O king, that we will not serve your gods or
worship the image of gold you have set up.
This is a legitimate way to experience God’s presence, but I believe our hearts will be restless if we stop here. If you really believe we are made for a relationship with God, then there has to be more to the relationship than just an intellectual belief that God is with us. I believe my wife loves me, but if that was all I had to go on, if she never said anything or showed her love for me, or if I didn’t feel her love for me, or talk with her regularly, I think I would start to get the impression that I was getting short-handed in our relationship. Is it any different with God?
Why we need more than just blind faith
The relationships we long for are a direct result of being made in His image and likeness. We serve a God who is three Persons, but at the same time one God. There is something in each individual Person of the Trinity that cannot be found in the other. There is something in the Son that is not in the Father or Spirit. There is something in the Spirit that is not in the Father or Son. There is something in the Father that is not in the Spirit or Son. God’s completeness is in the fact that all three Persons live in relationship with each other. We serve a God who finds His completion in relationship with others. He had made us in His image (Gen 1:26,27).
I find it interesting that Jesus, when forced to go on blind faith alone because He couldn’t feel or sense God’s presence while hanging on the cross, cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” For Jesus, blind faith was not enough. His relationship with God needed more. This leads us to the next way we can experience God’s presence in which we will talk about in 2 weeks. I'm taking next week off for a pastor's retreat.
 Dallas Willard, Hearing God, (Downers Grove, IL. IVP), pp. 46-52.