Why do some people see and experience God while others don’t?
Of course, no one sees God with their eyes, but many people recognize the evidence for his existence and they experience his presence in ways that are, well, hard to describe.
C.S. Lewis saw God as clearly as he saw the sunrise. He said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
The late Christopher Hitchens, was an outspoken “antitheist…someone who is relieved that there’s no evidence” for God.
What accounts for such different perspectives? These were two articulate well-educated men who both put forth logical defenses for their respective positions, yet what one saw as obvious the other saw as foolishness.
Is it our responsibility to recognize God, or must God open our spiritual eyes before we will recognize him? I think the answer is, “Yes.”
The Bible describes both. According to Romans chapter 1 we have plenty of evidence for the existence of God in plain sight. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20) Yet, God is consistently shown to be the initiator in his interactions with spiritually clueless human beings. He appeared to the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses. God temporarily blinded the radical Christian-hater Saul on the road to Damascus so that he could open his spiritual eyes. The blind Saul became an enlightened Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ who wrote the words in Romans quoted above.
Theologians ponder, discuss and take positions on the tension between God’s sovereignty and human free will, but it remains a mystery. The best I can do with it is to be eternally grateful that he has opened my eyes, show grace for those who see things differently from me, and to do my best to recognize and respond to his presence in my life.
“Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” Genesis 28:16-17