By kind permission from Guestwriter Paul Shoemaker
I lived on a small farm in Kansas for the first twelve years of my life. My father was the pastor of a rural church. Living in the country was a good life for me. I had seven sisters and no brothers. I spent a lot of time alone (believe it or not) and during the summer when school was out I would spend hours and hours just roaming around the countryside.
One of my favorite places to go was down an old dirt road that led to some hayfields along the river bottom across from our land. The road had grass growing down the middle of it, and hardly anyone ever drove down it. Down the road there was a tumbled-down old house that had known many generations of wind and weather. It had collapsed many years before, leaving just the pitched roof with no walls supporting it. It looked like the ruins of an ancient A-frame. There were odd rusted pieces of machinery and junk scattered around it, including what looked like an old Model-T car. It seemed surreal to think that at one time someone had actually lived there. At another place along the road there was an old rock foundation, just the arrangement of stones with nothing else left of what might have been built there. I never knew what sort of structure had once rested upon it.
The land has all been cleared now. Yet one thing remained for many years to come: My imagination was sparked, and in my wandering and my exploring these fields, the river, and thickly wooded places, I had a dream of discovering a special place, something old and forgotten. I imagined an old log cabin, like one that may have once rested on that old stone foundation, hidden by the trees and the timber. An old log cabin with brush growing up all around it, a place that no one else knew about, a secret place that no one else knew was there. Such dreams and fantasies are natural. All children love to imagine. But the unique thing about this dream was that it came true. Remarkably, eventually, and in a very unforeseen way.
Many years later in my adult life, I was the pastor of a rural church. (Like father, like son.) Every October our church had an auction to raise funds; we called it the Harvest Auction. It had begun with church members contributing farm produce, but as times changed and there were fewer and fewer farmers in the congregation, the auction became more of a big garage sale. So it was very natural that one of our church members asked me to help move some furniture out of an old house that he owned, and take it to the sale. The house was vacant now, but it had been his home-place; he was born there.
As we were carrying things out of an upstairs bedroom, he said "Wait - I want to show you something" and he pointed to a small, low doorway. As we walked through the doorway into a dim attic space, I could see, along the outer edge of the room, the top side of four rough-hewn logs. I suddenly realized that they were the top beams of an old log cabin - the house had been built over and around it. I had found an old log cabin, just as I sought in my childhood! An old log cabin that almost no one knew about, just like the one I had dreamed of finding so many years before, and it was, just as in my fantasy, hidden from sight. Hidden so well in fact that you could be looking right at it and never know it was there. I recognized that this was a gift to me, and a message as well, which I will share with you.
The kingdom of God is like that. And the presence of God is like that. It’s like something that is hidden inside of us, like a log cabin hidden inside of a house, an invisible source of strength with a house built around it. So is the Kingdom of God. The treasure we all seek and the object of our deepest desire is the I AM within. It’s the original I AM that we are, the original Spirit of God within our human spirit.
Hidden within the "house" of taste, touch, sight, smell, and hearing, hidden within the house of emotion and reason, as Jesus proclaimed “The kingdom of God is within you!” (i) But it’s hidden from our physical sight. Hidden so well that many will even deny its presence.
God is not out there, not in heaven above, but in heaven within. A treasure hidden within us, like a cabin hidden within a house. A solid strength and support beneath the surface of our conscious mind, but always there, unseen.
So seek the Truth. “Seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (ii) because there’s a little doorway within you, where it has always been. And there’s something hidden there, and it’s the very presence of God. If we can open up that doorway even just a little, then we can get a glimpse of the very foundation of our existence, the foundation of all existence, that which has been “hidden since the creation of the world." (iii) We can get a glimpse of the One in whom we “live and move and have our being." (iv)
It may seem strange to some of you for me, a person who has been a member of the clergy for many years, to say that I’m still searching for God. But I am. And it’s not strange at all because God may be known so much more intimately than we realize, and all of us have more room to grow in Spirit. God is not who we have believed God to be traditionally: out there, somewhere, unreachable. God is within us, and the consciousness of God is within us.
So look within. Enter into that little room inside yourself and see it for yourself. You can’t see it on the outside. You won't find it there. From the outside you can be looking right at it and never know it’s there.
(i) Luke 17:21, NKJV.