I recently spoke to a man who was distraught about his present circumstance in life. His current condition was what I am inclined to describe as "9 miles of bad road." By his own admission, some of what he was experiencing was a result of his own unwise choices. He had also been tripped by circumstances beyond his control. Those two realities seem to encapsulate us all at some point in time and we really start feeling the squeeze. With choked hesitancy he remarked, "This is not what I want. I want to be able to connect with God.
How does one do that? I will save you the listing of simple formulas because I don't think there are any. I also will not quote scripture, because too many are geared for that and it comes off a bit flippant and too easy. Reading the Bible a lot, praying hard, and going to worship may till the soil of our soul for the proper planting to occur. But I'm not sure even that is enough. Our understanding of God is not God. Surely we know that God will not be manipulated toward that which we deem best nor is it a very good idea to try to create a God in our own image (although such may be the god that we all know best).
And how would one know if a connection was really established? My own experience is that of others, in that, I most often do not "feel" as though God is close. Sometimes there seems only silence, at best. Still others describe that which is overwhelming in both its impact and mystery. I once heard someone describe an experience with God (as he understood it) as though he were "floating in wave after wave of liquid love." Pretty impressive!
Karen Armstrong is one of the best to be found in struggling with and expressing an understanding of God. She has written prolifically and any work of hers is worth reading. For all the depth and scholarship that she brings to the subject, she now says that for her it boils down to what we call the Golden Rule - "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Or, reach out to someone with compassion. Let compassion be the most conscious expression of your life.
So with Armstrong's thoughts working in my mind, I said to the man who desired connection, "Reach out to someone who is hurting." "Give yourself to someone in need, listen to them, and do what you can." "Be compassionate toward all kinds of people." In a serendipitous kind of way, God may come close by.