Last night I taught on Abraham. We looked at how Abraham’s life was shaped by his belief (and unbelief at times) in the spoken promises of God over his life and future. Afterwards I gave everyone 56 seconds to text me one question they were left with from the teaching, to which I would answer one of the questions in another 56 seconds. My attempt to give permission and allow space to people’s real questions about God. I got this question from one of my adult volunteers.
Why doesn’t God speak to us in the present day the way he spoke to Abraham?
I love that they asked this question because we ALL ask this question. Yet few of us have the courage or bravery to speak it or explore it. Here is my answer to this question.
I very much believe that he does and is speaking to us today. When we read we often read as though God pops by for a spot of tea and says, “Oh by the way – here’s exactly what I want you to do.” But I wonder if we assume face to face conversations, loud booming thunder from heaven, or writing in the sky too often. I wonder if we assume these things in hopes to appease the discomfort within us when we know our soul desires to hear our Father’s voice but has lost the recognition of that voice.
So often, probably more often than not, when people hear the voice of God in scripture they are either A) in silence & solitude or B) in the wilderness – away from distractions. Let’s look at a few people who heard the voice of God.
Abraham was a 75 year old nomad – accustomed to the quiet. Moses was an 80 year old shepherd heard the voice of God in the desert (A burning bush is one thing, but recognizing it as the voice of God would not have been an obvious observation!). David was a shepherd through his entire childhood, then a fugative who spent most of his life on the run living in caves & in hiding running from King Saul, then as King had much time alone. Nearly all the Prophets resided in the wilderness in solitude. Zachariah and Samuel both heard God’s voice alone in the Temple. The disciples & both Marys heard the word of God spoken in and through their time alone with Jesus.
Then there is Jesus. He heard the voice of God during baptism (outside of Jerusalem), during prayer before dawn, and on a mountain top with 3 friends. He also discerned the voice of God as he walked about and interacted with people. How? The same way I can pick out my daughter’s singular laugh on a playground full of children or my wife’s voice in a room full of women, because I spend hours, days, years, cultivating a recognition and unrelenting love for their voice.
I read this last night after youth group and thought this spoke poignantly to the question,
“Religion has accepted the monstrous heresy that noise, size, activity, and bluster make a man (and woman) dear to God. But we may take heart. To a people caught in the tempest of the last great conflict (alluding to Revelation) God says,”Be still and know that I am God,” and he still says it, as if He means to tell us that our strength and safety lie not in the noise but in the silence” – A.W. Tozer
I am so guilty of this – creating spiritual “noise” in hopes to rouse God’s attention and take notice of me or surrounding myself with “noise” so that I am safe from hearing words of correction, vision, or change that God has for me. Then I simply complain, “Why don’t you speak to me!” I surely think God’s answer is, “Why don’t you listen as I am speaking to you now?”
We follow a speaking God. His Son is called the “Word” (John 1) and are filled with the Spirit speaks God’s word to us (John 15:26). Let’s pray that God would help us listen rather than that God would speak louder.