It’s been a busy few weeks, with interesting new opportunities God laid briefly before me. Having a daily commute, thankfully short, gave me time to think, but not so much time to do much with those thoughts. Now that things have settled back into a new rhythm, some of those thoughts have come back to the surface, pressing to be shared. One of the first was a contemplation of the idea of hearing God. When I was in Maine over the summer, my father and I were having a heart to heart, mostly with him talking and me crying late in the night, and he said something to me that I heard and tucked away but hadn’t really examined. He said that he thinks I hear God differently than he does.
That wouldn’t surprise me, I think we all hear God a little differently, for a lot of reasons. Some of those reasons have to do with what gifts the Spirit has chosen for each of us. But, I think more than that, some of those reasons are actually a matter of receptivity, and that stems in many ways from what we have absorbed from our community of faith. That got me to thinking about the things I have absorbed over the years, and whether they line up with what the Scriptures tell us about God talking to His children, and that brought me to the thing God wanted me to share tonight.
Several years ago, Corey, Kenny, Michael and I all participated in an intensive class at our church. It was called Discipleship Training, and it was a really good class. All of us learned a lot, particularly, it set me on a path deeper into living my faith than I could ever have gone on my own. But, one of the things that stands out in this moment that we talked about somewhere in that class was God talking. The notion was raised that God can, indeed, still do miracles. That He does, indeed, still intervene with the supernatural when we cry out. But, and isn’t there always a but to such statements? But, the thinking went, it is more likely, if we are following in obedience and trust, that God will only speak to us through His Word and through other people. Because, the thinking went, if God needs to step in with the supernatural, it must obviously be because we have once again screwed up big if we are in need of a miracle to save us.
I suppose this thought pattern isn’t surprising in a very free-will based theological perspective, but, as I have read Scripture this past year, I can’t help the growing sense that it is a wrong-headed idea of God talking to us. To illustrate, the first Scripture brought to mind was out of the early chapters of 1 Samuel, where we see God speaking, presumably audibly since Samuel kept going to his master, to Samuel. God called his name several times, until Eli finally recognized that it was the voice of the Lord, and told Samuel. At which point, Samuel and God have conversation.
It also brings to mind the stories of Moses and David. Where first with Moses, God speaks to him from a bush, and Moses is fearful. But, as the story unfolds, we see Moses speaking to God on a pretty regular basis. God comes to meet with Moses in the tents and on the mountain tops. He speaks to Moses with direction, and there are even points where Moses argues with God, albeit respectfully. We see the same kind of relationship with Abraham, with David, and one of my favorites is with Elijah and even Jeremiah.
In other words, the whole of the Old Testament is filled with stories of God’s people talking to Him, and of Him talking to them. Now, granted at that time He usually picked a few special prophets, judges or kings to work through, but it is still the story of God speaking to His people. He did so to instruct, but also to reveal His mind and heart to them. God speaks to His people so that they will know His voice.
Which brings me to the next Scripture that keeps coming to mind, and a story from when Jordan was last attending youth at our church. Our last youth pastor took the kids on a hike on one of the last things they did before the program ended. I went with them, and we were talking about one of the youth camps she was a leader at, and she was talking about an exercise they did with the kids to demonstrate what the Bible says about knowing God’s voice, and how that works. As they were looking at the passage from John 10, she had all the kids line up faced away from the leaders. They were to turn and walk toward the leaders when they heard a specific leader’s voice, but only when they heard his voice.
In the same way, Scripture teaches us that because we are God’s sheep we will know the sound of His voice and we will follow Him. Which gets me to thinking, if we, as Christians, believe that Christ was God revealed in flesh, the Word made flesh, to walk among us and provide us the bridge to the Father, we need to look at what Christ did, and why. One of the things we see Him doing primarily is speaking. He spoke to the disciples and to many others. He spoke of God’s kingdom, He testified about the Father, and foretold the coming of the Holy Spirit. He did all that, according to His own words, so that we might know the Father. And then, in several places, He tells us that those who are of God will hear and follow.
Doesn’t that presume that God will speak to us? Doesn’t our faith tell us, regularly, that God seeks to have a relationship with us? Scripture defines that relationship as Lord and servant, husband and bride, God and His people, Father and children, and even as friend. For every one of those relationships, communication is required. The parties talk to each other. We are called to pray and praise, that’s our end of that conversation. But, are we really so self-centered as to believe that God has no conversation to contribute? Or that He will only talk when we have gone far off track?
Doesn’t it make a whole lot more sense that God speaks to each of us? In this last age before the return of Christ and His reign on earth, we know that Holy Spirit dwells in us as believers. We know this because Christ promised it, and Joel foretold it, and in Acts the promise was fulfilled that in these last days, the Spirit would be poured out on all flesh. We know as those who profess Christ as Lord, we have been adopted as children of God, which means He is our Father, and father’s speak to their children. We know God is making us holy to present His bride without wrinkle or blemish, and husbands speak to their brides. And in all those instances, all those relationships, the role God has cast Himself in is one that would speak all the time, out of love, out of teaching, out of correction, and simply out of companionship.
Why would we try to limit God’s supernatural conversations to something only pulled out in case of emergency and disaster? God Himself has shown from the beginning of human time that He desires to walk and talk with us. Since Adam and Eve lost paradise, the whole of God’s story was aimed at the cross that would restore that relationship with His creation. Now that He’s provided that restoration, perhaps we should joyfully let ourselves have ears to hear so that we will know His voice and follow Him.
Be blessed and be a blessing.