16 years ago today, I wrote this in my journal:
I put in my two weeks notice yesterday and I’m looking forward to leaving. This city is evil. God’s been working things out for me. We found a truck for $2200, but it was dying and shaking a lot on the way home. We even had to jump it and it was burning oil so we took it back. I was discouraged and tempted to worry, but I decided that all things work together for good if I trust in God (Romans 8:28). I figured it must have been a test of my patience so I decided that I would trust in God to work things out. He did! The next day my parents found a great truck for $2200 (it was originally $2500!) and it’s just what I need for the farm! Praise the Lord!
I’m reading a book called Experiencing God and it’s reminded me that a close loving relationship with God is the most important thing in life. That’s what we were created for! Only then can we be used by God. And when He tells us to do something we will know His voice, and no matter how impossible it seems we must remember that God can do anything! I believe that right now I need to focus on establishing a closer relationship with God and when I’m settled in Oklahoma He’ll have work for me to do. Right now I just need to let everyone know I belong to Jesus and stop caring what others think.
— November 10th, 1998
Dear Former Self,
Let me get this straight: You needed a truck and you only had $2200 to spend, so after searching through the classifieds with your parents you found one in your price range. Then you had to return it. But the next day you found another… and the only explanation is that God worked it out for you? I wonder how. Did God force the seller to put his truck up for sale at just the right time? Did he stop other potential customers from noticing the truck? Did he cause the first truck’s battery to die just so you could practice being patient? And would the results have been any different had you been praying to a lamp? Probably not.
What you experienced is known as agenticity. Humans have a tendency to see patterns where there are none. It’s why people see animals and faces in clouds. That’s called patternicity. Agenticity is the tendency to think there are conscious agents responsible for those patterns. In your case, you had $2200 to spend on a truck and you found one for that exact amount (the pattern), then you ascribed that pattern to God (the agent). But in reality, nothing supernatural happened. It was a delusion created by a mind that evolved to see patterns and agents everywhere because doing so has a survival advantage.
As for your loving relationship with God… I know you haven’t had much luck with women, but trust me when I say that God will not fill the void. You say God created people so they could have a relationship with him, but why? If God is perfect, he should not feel negative emotions such as loneliness. Even if he was lonely, why would a relationship with intelligent primates fill his need for companionship? If he is infinitely intelligent compared to us, then it’s analogous to an old woman having a “relationship” with her cats. Sure, the cats might love her, but she is still going to be lonely if she doesn’t have any friends or family, people who are her equals.
I can already hear you saying, “It’s more like a relationship between a parent and a small child.” Fine, but the parent would still be lonely. Imagine you are the last adult on Earth and the only humans left are your children who are all under 10. You would certainly enjoy your relationships with them, but you would still long for a friend or a partner, someone on your own level who can actually relate to you. If God was lonely, why didn’t he create other gods to be friends with him? Perhaps he did. After all, you can’t disprove the existence of other gods.
— Matt, November 10th, 2014
This is part of an ongoing series called Letters to My Former Self.