The Presence in Absence

Southwest Trip 392There is a strange aspect to the presence of God in the world around us. That aspect is His apparent absence. I read with fascination (because I am no philosopher, much less a scientist) the discussions surrounding “intelligent design” and the like. I gather that everybody agrees that the universe is just marvelous and wonderfully put together (I can’t think of a better universe). But then begins the parting of ways as one sees God everywhere and another sees Him nowhere. Reason surely need not deny Him, though reason does not seem forced to acknowledge Him. I have spent most of my life around these arguments – one place or another. I can stand in either place and see both presence and absence.

But as the years have gone by, I have come to see something I never saw before – the Presence within the absence. I don’t mean to sound too mystical here – only that I see in the hiddenness of God a revelation of His love. The Creator of us all draws us towards Himself and knowledge of Him, with hints and intimations, with seen and yet unseen signs.

The strange deniability that He leaves us is the space in which love is born. Love cannot be forced, cannot be demanded. It must come as gift, born of a willingness to give. To give God trust that what I see is indeed evidence of the wisdom in which He made all things is also a space – one which God fills with Himself and the echo, the Yes, that the universe shouts back to us.

It is where I grow weary of the arguments – not because they need not be made – but because it becomes hard to hear the silence in the noise of our own voices – a silence that invites us to hear the sound of the voice of God that rumbles all around us.

There’s more to say – but not now.

This was the fourth article that I posted on the blog (back in October of 2006). Thinking about the last post, on God’s Secret Hand, I see that my thoughts and questions have changed little. I don’t think I’ve looked in different directions – but I hope I’ve looked deeper and longer. It is certainly the case that my posts have grown longer.


  1. says

    your post brings to mind the beautiful lyrics to Andrew Peterson’s song “The Silence of God”, which I believe has a profound holiness. perhaps a holiness our disconnected mind and heart cannot comprehend nor hear, truly hear perhaps. nonetheless it reminds me of this fantastic song. thanks for the intriguing insight, Father…

    It’s enough to drive a man crazy; it’ll break a man’s faith
    It’s enough to make him wonder if he’s ever been sane
    When he’s bleating for comfort from Thy staff and Thy rod
    And the heaven’s only answer is the silence of God

    It’ll shake a man’s timbers when he loses his heart
    When he has to remember what broke him apart
    This yoke may be easy, but this burden is not
    When the crying fields are frozen by the silence of God

    And if a man has got to listen to the voices of the mob
    Who are reeling in the throes of all the happiness they’ve got
    When they tell you all their troubles have been nailed up to that cross
    Then what about the times when even followers get lost?
    ‘Cause we all get lost sometimes…

    There’s a statue of Jesus on a monastery knoll
    In the hills of Kentucky, all quiet and cold
    And He’s kneeling in the garden, as silent as a Stone
    All His friends are sleeping and He’s weeping all alone

    And the man of all sorrows, he never forgot
    What sorrow is carried by the hearts that he bought
    So when the questions dissolve into the silence of God
    The aching may remain, but the breaking does not
    The aching may remain, but the breaking does not
    In the holy, lonesome echo of the silence of God

  2. Chrys says