Philosophy, observed, seems at best an attempt to explain what is, a means to sift out the here and now in a game guided by a set of rules manufactured by one or more of the game’s players. A nice convenience, philosophy guides us in what we can see and understand. This convenience trips upon its feet when the questions giving rise to its study fail to yield adequate answers.

Philosophy contemplates life and existence with questions like “Who is God?” and “Where is God?” and the big one, “Does God exist?” Neither the Stoic nor the Existentialist nor an Objectivist’s rational self-interest provides us with proof. Remember, a telescope can only see so far.

Because Christians are informed by the Holy Spirit, the faithful are guided not by what is seen but by what is unseen. Christians know who God is, where he is and doubt not God but themselves. Believers do not just feel God but sense His presence in an answered prayer, a coincidence, a sunset, a vast array of stars on a clear night and a smiling baby after a messy diaper. The most distant God ever becomes is when we turn our gaze away and the closest to eternity while we breathe is when those final words pierce our ears as we lay down a loved one — dust to dust, ashes to ashes, Amen.

To a Christian, time spent on the question “What is God?” fills his life. Appropriate because he is made in His image and God has given him the freedom to go his own way or to conform to His likeness. Going his own way, as he is oft to do, tells him much about the “what.” Returning tells him more.

God is a shelter for our returning. And somehow, on each return, if we are intent on it, God reveals a little more of himself. With each, we bow a little more, stoop and bend until we reach our knees. This is how I discovered what God is and what He isn’t, for I have gazed away and heard those final words. God was always there no matter where I was, waiting patiently, loving me until I realized I was meant to return to Him.

When I was a child and I roamed the neighborhood, free to pursue whatever interested me, every adventure came with dirt. Playing war in the ditches and woods, joining the gang’s pickup football game, riding bikes down dusty roads, swinging from a rope into a black Edisto river and more on a list too long to describe, somehow Mom never scolded me for being too dirty or too late. The door was always open when I returned, and Mom always cleaned my clothes. And the best part was her moist, sumptuous pound cake filling my bottomless pit and hearing her words, “Welcome home, son.”

And isn’t this what God is?

“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15, NKJV).

Deck Cheatham has been a golf professional for some 40 years. He lives with his family in Dalton. Please visit his blog at deckcheatham.com. Email him at pgadeacon@gmail.com.

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