"Looking, or the desire to look, is not the only important aspect of a search. To find what you are looking for requires that you look in the right direction. No matter how hard you may be searching and how earnestly you desire to find the object of your search, you will be frustrated if you are not looking in the right direction. We need proper guidance if we are to find what it is for which we look
"Many in our world are engaged in the sincere search for God. And yet, for many, the search is fruitless. No matter how vigorously they look, the search for the presence of the divine in their lives and in the world appears to be in vain. As was just indicated, one possible reason for the fruitlessness of the search is not due to lack of desire, but to an inability to look in the right direction. To discover the presence of the Lord in our lives, we must allow our vision to be guided so that we may finally catch a glimpse of the moon rather than the pointing finger.
"Many of the women and men in the Bible had profound experiences of God in their lives. The conscious awareness of this presence challenged and/or changed the way they viewed the world and the women and men with whom they shared it. But, God did not simply disappear when the last word of the Bible had been written. He continues to be present to us just as he was to the women and men whose names fill the pages of Scripture. We look back on their stories in hindsight, a hindsight that lessens our appreciation for the struggle they went through to know God in their lives. The Bible can serve as an indispensable guide in helping us appreciate their struggle, steering us in the right direction and focusing our attention in the direction of the God whom we seek.
"Using the Bible as our guide requires a brief explanation concerning how Scripture can be fruitfully read. Modern biblical scholarship has greatly enhanced our ability to understand the time in which a biblical book was written, something of the identity of the community for whom it was written, and the theological vision the author wished to express. Beyond that, biblical scholarship provides insight into the faith experience that the biblical authors are attempting to capture by the way they relate the stories of God's saving activity. It is the intention of this book to approach the biblical texts at the level of the faith experience being conveyed.
The purpose of this book is to invite us to turn to the pages of Scripture to guide our attempts to recognize God's presence. Using the Bible as our guide, I would like to suggest five places we are encouraged to look in our quest for the Lord. In the first chapter, the figures of Moses and Elijah, as well as a sampling of recurring biblical symbols, will lead us to discover God in the ordinary of life.
We all struggle with the existence and experience of evil and suffering in our lives and in the world. Thus, chapter 2 looks to Job and the apostle Paul as examples of faithfulness in spite of suffering. In the midst of their own experience of evil and suffering, they were able to perceive the presence of the God who was with them in their struggles.
The third chapter calls upon the wisdom articulated in the stories of the great figures of the Hebrew Scriptures, the unknown descendants of Jesus and Mary, his mother. Their stories shine light on the God present in the fidelity of ordinary people responding to the Lord's call in their lives.
"Chapter 4 attempts to open our eyes and hearts to God's presence in the gift of repentance by reflecting on the connection the Bible makes between repentance and new life in God.
"Lastly, it is a central theme of Scripture that God is powerfully encountered in love. In the last chapter we will examine the life of John the Baptist and the structure of God's love revealed in the birth and death of Jesus to underline the Bible's insight regarding God's abiding presence in the willingness and action of love. St Paul, in his First Letter to the Corinthians, reminds us that the Holy Spirit of God dwells within each of us (3:16). Only when we first recognize the presence of God in our own hearts can we open our lives to acknowledge his presence in the ways the Bible suggests.
"At the end of each chapter, I will include some
Scripture passages as part of reflection exercises for the
purpose of helping us to develop the habit of looking for
God where the Bible reminds us he is most often found. It
is my hope that the reflections in this book, as well as the
exercises that conclude each chapter, will support our
efforts as individuals and as communities, to discover
God's presence in our lives and to allow his presence to
shape us into instruments of his life and love." - from the Preface by the author, Lyle K. Weiss.