I have never felt a direct experience with God. The closest I came to that was when about age 20 I went with Mom and Dad to the second day of a week of evangelical services at a local church. In that experience, I felt very much betrayed. The evangelist was stirring the crowd, and I felt moved. After the emotional manipulation, he asked all to close their eyes as he prayed. I closed my eyes. Then he asked those who would like for him to pray for them to raise their hands. I felt that was noble thing. Who wouldn’t want another to pray for them? So I raised my hand. When he was done praying, he asked those who had raised their hands to come down to the front of the church. I had raised my hand, he knew that I had raised it, and so I obeyed. As I went, I realized that either others who had raised their hands were disobeying him, or that I was his prize for the night. I played along with his game, and when done, I returned home with mom and dad. There was no further mention of that.
About a year ago, as I was writing for my blog, I noted that I did not have a sense of a personal relationship with God, although I did not disavow the reality of God – just a lack of a sense of connection. In my post, I acknowledge that I wondered if that impersonal relationship might have been affected by my experience of abandonment in infancy from my six-month polio hospitalization at 11 months of age. I never had any response to that post.
And so, my perception of God is that “God” is beyond anything that I can imagine. I see a remarkable world about me and I experience to some degree a sense of awe – but that, more intellectual than as a matter of feeling. And so, although I am familiar with the notion of grace, I have never had a sense of the need of grace. The God that I know is not particularly personal, and I resist in concept a notion of a God who keeps score for which grace might have some significance.
I have noted at various times through my life that I am the recipient of many good things that I did not deserve, never even thought about, as though they were generous gifts. Many of those have far exceeded anything I might have imagined. For those, in concept, at least, I am thankful.
I pray each day, but don’t know why other than that I ought to think of others. And I have faced great difficulties. They are not matters to pray about, but for me to suck it up and get to work to overcome. And, perhaps influenced by my preverbal survival of polio, I have a confidence that I can survive, but not necessarily to thrive. To that degree, I can adjust.