Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Story: The Absent God

It lasted about exactly a year and a half, my certainty that God was gone.

I did not feel held by God, loved by God, surrounded by God.  All those things which people assure you are true:  Nope. 

It seemed clear to me that God had stalked off to some other universe.

No God.  Just gone.

Ironically, I was in seminary.  Reading books and writing papers about God.

I was listening to people talk about God.  God seemed plenty interested in and present to them.

Just not me.

Then, a change.  Very slowly, and sometimes in reverse.

I said to Beloved Former Spiritual Director, he of the 80 years of wisdom, "Have you ever experienced a time in which God seemed to have completely vanished?  Have you ever felt that God was just gone?"

(I was confident that he would say yes, and that then he would tell me how to proceed.)

"No," he said.

(No?  I thought?  Nooooo?)

"No, I haven't, and I wouldn't want to," he said.

Well, that's just great, I thought.  

And more time passed and more conversations with lots of different people took place.  Also a lot of silence.  LOTS of silence.

And so:  God seemed very absent and now God seems very present.  And apparently has been, albeit invisibly so, to me at least.

That's my story; it's the only one I've got.  

I'm thinking now that it probably has some value for ministry, since if anyone ever asks me the question that I posed, my answer will be, "Yes."


The above was inspired by today's post in People for Others, which goes as follows:

Days pass and the years vanish and we walk sightless among miracles. Lord, fill our eyes with seeing and our minds with knowing. Let there be moments when your Presence, like lightning, illumines the darkness in which we walk. Help us to see, wherever we gaze, that the bush burns, unconsumed. And we, clay touched by God, will reach out for holiness and exclaim in wonder, “How filled with awe is this place and we did not know it.”

~ Terry Hershey’s The Power of Pause, attributed to Mishkan Tefilah and  from the Jewish Sabbath Prayer Book.


  1. Me too, Robin. That is what first drew me to your blog. You seemed to be where I was. I am only now, after Open the Door, emerging from that place. And it is now, as you said, getting easier to see that He has been there all along.

  2. I am finding it ironic, as only God can be, that following the inability to create healthy conversations in a former place, and having to leave there in deep pain, I found myself being the person, of all those on the committee, who wrote the guide for WordsMatter. And now from that am finding new life and hope. I thought God was deaf to my pleas and grief, but it appears God was listening and working in and through me.

    What grace.

  3. I'm thanking God that you can feel Him again.

  4. Terri, I am beginning to wonder whether God doesn't work 100% through paradox and irony.