The Invisible God
As I write this, I am currently in the throes of editing my newest film, Father of Lights. It’s going to be big and epic and full of stuff you’re going to need to see to believe, but it’s also causing me no end of spiritual and mental exercise. I often say that I have the greatest job in the world: I have the privilege of filming God. I even wrote a book about it of the same name! But even as I traveled the world and filmed the things you will soon witness in Father of Lights, and even as I sit in my studio day after day slowly putting this movie together, I can’t shake the fact that the God I’ve been commissioned to film is…well…invisible.</p<
While that may seem like a fairly straightforward “duh” statement, try to understand where I am coming from. I work in an entirely VISUAL medium, and setting out to visually capture something that is not visually there can be, how shall we say, a bit tricky. I can’t help but view this film through the skeptic’s eyes, and even at this stage I dread the inevitable accusation that everything we filmed was staged. I cannot stress enough how unbelievable some of the things you are about to see will seem. As this film will probably have the highest profile of anything we’ve ever done, I am bracing myself for the strong backlash I’m sure I will face.
But all this has gotten me thinking. Why is God invisible? Why must I serve an invisible God? At its most basic form, faith in God is intensely personal, and all evangelism is based on the notion that “you have to take my word for it”. The hope is that your faith ushers in a response from someone else to step out and call on an invisible deity, wherein He will make himself known to them in a very personal way (yet remain invisible), and the whole process hopefully repeats itself. For whatever reason, this is the way God has set the game up. But again I am left with the question: why?
If we’re all truly honest with ourselves, we often have those moments of doubt where we wonder if we’re simply devoting our lives to a figment of our imagination. I recently spoke in a church in Chicago, and at the end of my talk I told everyone that God was going to meet every single one of them right here, right now. Even as I said it, I inwardly cringed, hoping beyond hope that I was telling these people the truth; that God exists and fervently desires an emotional relationship with them. So I prayed for God to show up, for Him to break through their minds and into their hearts, and then I shut up and waited.
It was an excruciating couple of minutes. Dead silence. I didn’t even have music playing in the background to help. It was all or nothing. Either God shows up invisibly, or I’m just a big idiot. And then, as it always happens, people began to encounter Him. People began to cry. And it spread all over the room. God was meeting each person individually, yet He was remaining invisible. Even as He moved, I was asking Him why He had to make it so hard? Once someone decided to serve You, why couldn’t You throw them a bone and give them, like, a 3 second glimpse of You?
In my travels around the world, one truth about God is categorically, undeniably true. When people TRULY encounter Him, He is irresistible. His love is so magnetic, so mind altering, so overpowering in its beauty and grace, when an encounter takes place there’s no going back. But since God is love, He wants our love in return, and if He were to show Himself to our natural eyes, quite simply, we wouldn’t have a choice. Love requires a choice. A choice can only be made when options are available. If God were to fully reveal Himself, all options against Him would vanish.
Exodus 33-34 gives us a good example of what we’re talking about. Moses is on Mt. Sinai, interceding for God not to destroy Israel because they were acting like numbskulls again. When God grants his request, Moses, I’m sure in a fit of radical recklessness, asks God to show him His glory. God then tells him that he can’t see His face or He’d die (so powerful is His glory) but He’ll put Moses in a cleft on the mountain and cover it with His hand until He walks by, then Moses can gaze upon His back. It’s an extraordinary privilege that very few in history have been afforded. When Moses comes down from the mountain, He freaks everyone out because his face is shining. Even the after effects of viewing God with the naked eye is enough to scare people! Think about that: Moses was allowed to see God’s back, and it was too much for OTHERS to bear. How terrifyingly irresistible IS this God of ours?
For our love of God to be real, He must remain hidden from us. But thankfully, He shows Himself to us THROUGH us, which is incredible in its humility and simplicity. You want to see Him move? You’re going to have to pray for someone. You want to feel Him inside you? You’re going to have to suspend your disbelief long enough to allow Him access to your heart. You’ll certainly see God move in Father of Lights, but even then, you’re going to have to believe that what I’m showing you actually happened as you’re seeing it. With true love there will always be choices to believe the opposite, otherwise it can’t be the fullest extent of love.
It may not be the way I always want it to be, but as usual, His ways are not my ways. Thank God for that.