Hellloo God, are you there?

I've learned this is a delightful question. It may be asked at any point of life, by the young, by the old, by the curious, by the hurt, by the frightened, by the confident.

How surprising the first time you recognize the voice of God. How comforting to return again to the voice of God. And still comforting when the voice is no longer new, but expected, part of a conversation between two trusted "friends."

As a child I understood from a very young age that God loves me. I unquestioningly trusted in that knowledge. As I moved through junior and senior high school we were encouraged to question everything, seeking knowledge, seeking truth.

So I set out seeking for answers, seeking "proof" of God, God's presence, God's voice. I did not doubt, but I wanted God to "show himself." Jeremiah 29:13 declares, "You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you."

I remember, in a friendly way, challenging God to reveal himself in a simple test. I had seen the first couple flashes of lightening with an incoming thunderstorm. I thought, "God, when I count to three send a flash!" And he did. But the young scientist within me decided to test further. "God, this time, on three, send the flash from this point to that point!" Nothing. In my mind I remembered that "thou shalt not test the Lord your God!" (Deuteronomy 6:6 and Matthew 4:7), but the scientist within me was not quite satisfied.

I still trusted in God, was sure of his presence and his love for me, but I still wanted the "great reveal."

There were many moments of discovery, but were they "reveals" or coincidences? I was not unlike young Samuel in 1 Samuel chapter 3, and not unlike Elijah in 1 Kings chapter 19. God accompanied me through high school on into college, from college into work, from dating into marriage, into parenting. I came to learn the difference between thoughts and presence, between dreams and visions, between space and sacred places, between time and sacred moments, between knowledge and wisdom.

I discovered again what I "knew" as a child, even a preschooler. God is my friend, God is with me, God will not disappoint me. As a child I saw everyday miracles of life about me. Now I see everyday miracles of life and also everyday miracles of relationship.

As a child I instinctively knew the difference between good and evil. As an adult this difference has been confirmed. As an adult, I have chosen to follow goodness and to resist evil.

My trust in God has seen me through "many valleys of the shadow." I continue to trust, continue to question, continue to observe. I continue to "test" and discern.

Good starting questions to find God might be, "If God were looking for me, God would be where saying what doing what? How might God reach out to me? Might God send a sign? A sign that might send me a little further down the road of life, to make a discovery placed just for me?

Or perhaps instead of a sign, maybe God might send someone, who knowingly or unknowingly is serving as an instrument of God's grace.

When in afterthought you wonder was that a God moment?

I have learned that yes, of course God is with me, always. But so is God with you, and everyone. All men, all women, all children, all races, all nations.

There is a natural mutuality between our desire for God, and God's desire for us, of God's desire for you. Because God created each of us specially, with our own unique differences and our own unique abilities, the path of discovery is tailor made for each.

The path is a path each travels, sometimes alone, sometimes in group, but always, ultimately, a decision we make and remake at points of our lives. Through the ages men and women have discovered and rediscovered the love and grace God has for each of us, welcome home moments.

Go ahead, take the first step, "Hellooo, God, are you there?"

Rev. John Flower, pastor of First United Methodist Church of Clarion.