Earlier today, I sat working on my laptop in a local coffee shop. The morning sunlight streamed in, providing crystal clear vision, but still my perception of life blurred. I pondered my current and future struggles, and I wondered if others also wrestled with day-to-day life issues. As I continued my contemplations, my thoughts were interrupted by a conversation at a table nearby.
Straining to hear, I began eavesdropping on a couple engaging in conversation over coffee. The name Helen Keller caught my attention. Ever since I was a child, I have been a huge fan of this inspirational woman. I remember watching “The Miracle Worker,” a movie that deeply and profoundly touched my heart. Helen Keller’s story of a seemingly impossible but victorious life moved me beyond imagination. As we know, she was rendered blind and deaf at only 19 months old, and subsequently lived in complete darkness until her teacher, Anne Sullivan, taught her a way to communicate—a sign language demonstrated through touch.
At the mention of Helen Keller’s name at the coffee shop that day, my curiosity rose and I leaned in to listen. There was nothing this person could say that I didn’t already know about the life of Helen Keller, or so I thought. But as the conversation continued I heard a small, but not insignificant, detail of Helen’s life that I’d never known. Immediately, I jumped online to confirm the truth of what I’d overheard. As I read, I discovered that what the person had said about Helen Keller was, in fact, the truth.
Helen Keller had an understanding of God before she had the gift of language. How was that possible? Helen was blind and deaf before the age of two, unable to speak words she could not hear, let alone know what a word was. She lived a life of isolation, completely in the dark, literally and figuratively. She had no means of communication. So, how could she have known God?
As I read on, I discovered that later in life, Helen was mentored by an Episcopal Priest, Phillips Brooks. Helen told him that she had always had an awareness of God even before she had any way of communicating with the outside world. She sensed His presence in utter darkness, and never felt completely alone. God’s love for her was evident every step of the way, and when she finally reached a way to understand who God was, she commented that He had been there all along. When God was explained to Helen, she exclaimed, “Oh, that’s His name! I didn’t know He had a name.”
In this moment, it was impressed upon me that Helen Keller had the benefit of experiencing God’s presence without the influence of typical earthly distractions. Helen felt the pure love of God in an unhindered, unadulterated frame of reference. I am envious because my view of God is blended with my view of the world around me.
Not only blind to the physical world around her, Helen was blind to the broken context that so many of us place on God. We often draw conclusions about God and His character based on our circumstances and flawed relationships. We need help understanding, but unfortunately our only context is Earth’s brokenness.
We tend to measure God against our understanding of the world, rather than the truth of His Word. For example, I relate to Him in the context of my broken relationships on Earth. It’s often said that our view of God the Father is influenced by our relationship with our earthly fathers. We assume things about God that aren’t true. This pattern describes so many of our relationships: the good ones, the bad ones, and the ugly ones.
God desires that we look at our circumstances in light of who He is. He is loving. He is all powerful. He can be trusted. He has my best in mind, and He always keeps His promises.
Maybe like me, you have always known God, but you’ve never understood Him for who He really is. With weak eyes and a spiritual hearing impairment, we have a poor understanding of His limitless love and perfect character because we have no accurate reference point. Oh, to have the wisdom to be able to separate, both in our hearts and in our minds, the God that we have so quickly come to judge in our frailty.
God longs for us to feel Him, see Him, hear Him and speak the truth about Him based on His Word. I long to see God clearly like this, don’t you? Start by asking yourself, “Who is God?” What is He like? How have I misunderstood Him? What does He want me to know about Him? What have I assumed about Him that is incorrect? He yearns for us to receive all that He has to offer by walking closely with Him. But how do we change patterns that have been ingrained in us for decades? There is a way to move forward with Him, and it probably looks different for each one of us. The first step is to reach out with a longing voice.
We must seek Him to know Him, and we must ask Him to show us Himself.
“And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring’” (Acts 17:26-28).
May we have a heartfelt pursuit of getting to know Him by seeing Him with crystal clear vision, hearing Him with sharp understanding, and speaking of Him in authentic ways that draw others to Him, our loving and faithful Father.
Anna Nash is a Life Coach who enjoys helping people find God’s calling in life and work. As a an entrepreneur, Anna is the director of Beacon People and the author of pathFinder: A Journey Towards Purpose. She is married to her high school sweetheart, Tyler. They live in Birmingham, Alabama, where they own a coffee shop called Innova Coffee, a place for people gather and community to be built. They have 4 grown children and a Labradoodle named Nate.