I’ve heard of many classes being taught on ‘How to hear the voice of God.’ These are important things to learn and be trained in, and to be honest they’re things I would never be able to teach well. Not because of a deficiency in hearing God (although that could be true) but because I don’t have words or tangible instructions. It was something that just happened for me and became natural. It was a gift I didn’t have to work for. No, I couldn’t teach that class. If there was a class on God’s voice that I feel as though I could teach it would be ‘How to hear the voice of God, when he isn’t speaking.’
There are two things I imagine a title like that would lead you to believe. The first is that it’s a class on spiritual discernment, a type of ‘reading the signs for Christians’ class. That isn’t exactly how I mean it. The second is that this is a facetious title and really you’re talking about hearing an imaginary voice when there isn’t one there at all. I think, if I’m honest, that I am meaning a sort of blend of the two. (As I write this I realize how much I could say on the first option so there may be another blog post in the making.)
I have always been struck at my need to hear God’s voice right at the moment he’s refusing to speak. When I feel that I’m at a cross roads and I need to hear him. When I’m sure that he’s saying something but he just won’t clarify. (Let me be clear at this point so it doesn’t need consistent reiteration. I believe the scriptures are his written word and that they go on speaking authoritatively. What I mean is that if God is not speaking to you in an audible voice from heaven type way, the marvel of our faith is that he is always speaking because his scriptures are always on offer to us. His voice never rests. BUT, this is about something entirely different. This is about personal direction. These moments aren’t about making a decision between sin & righteousness, this is instead about right or left, up or down.) So, I’m going to go ahead and assume that you have had these silent moments too. Where deep in your bones you know God has said something. He isn’t saying it audibly, it isn’t even in the normal or consistent way you’ve known it before but some way, some how you have this feeling that God is saying something.
So in response you sit there asking, begging, crying out for God to speak in a way you know. A “Make it clear if that was you” prayer.
His response? Silence.
For some I know this has caused great pain, even to the point of leaving faith. I don’t want to make a joke or speak lightly on a topic that has driven so many people away from God. I do want to say something carefully but honestly about that though. Something that I know well because I have lived it and know that pain. Running from God because he’s quiet is a sign of immaturity. It’s a toddler not getting his way, throwing a fit and proclaiming -usually in a grocery store of some sort- that his/her parents don’t really love them anymore. What I have done is that I have called to God out of insecurity. I’ve called to him because I don’t have faith, I don’t believe the truth and I need him to speak it to me once again.
This is ok for a while, the problem is that we have to grow up. There has to be a moment when we transition from an insecure child to a confident adult. God doesn’t request this of us randomly. He does it when he knows we can do it. Like a parent teaching their children to ride a bike. We know the time when they’re ready to go without the training wheels. The child may not like it, they may not believe it but there is a moment when the training wheels are actually holding them back. When the training wheels are now hurting them, causing them to lose interest and be bored at how slow and safe they make them feel. Removing them means there is time for new muscles to be trained. It’s no longer about steering and the rhythm of pedalling. Those things are now instinctive. Now it’s about balance and speed.
This is what the silence of God is about.
God believes in us. He believes in us so much that he can stop telling us something thirteen times before asking us to respond. He can give us a nudge, or whisper in our ear of which direction to go rather than having to yell it at us. He knows we know his voice. God knows that you understand that feeling deep inside of you is him. The question is, how will you respond? Are you the kid wanting to take off on the new adventure or the kid screaming in Wal-Mart about not being loved anymore. I wish I could say I’m the adventurer but that has always been the case. I hope I’m starting to figure this balance thing out though.