The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.Psalm 19:1 NIV
I closed my last post by alluding to the many coincidences I have experienced in my life, particularly those which led me to a deeper and richer faith. In fact, coincidentally I was tangentially thinking about this (See my previous two posts My Journey & Could I find faith) when someone asked me “why isn’t God more obvious when communicating with us?”. And so my first reaction was “what would that look like?” So often People think that what God should do is simply and directly in an audible voice say, “I am God and this is what you should do…”. I readily admit I am not the best person to answer this question, there are others who have deeper relationships with God and/or have dedicated far more time thinking about this and can give better answers. But I was asked so I will give what I can.
My first thought goes to the toddler who calls me Daddy. I don’t know how many people reading this have recently tried to communicate with a toddler, but it is difficult. The child simply does not listen; I may talk using clear easily understood language, I may use a calm relaxed voice, I may look the child dead in the eye, and yet the child acts like I haven’t said a word. The child is so focused on doing whatever the selfish desire says to do that my words are incoherent and easily disregarded. I see this on an almost daily basis, and the same scene plays out again and again, never changing. The child struggles against me fights and cries, all in an effort to avoid my words and continue down that same selfish path. Because I see life from this perspective my first thought is, “how many times has God stood in my place and I am like the child selfishly avoiding the message?” Could it be that all those times I thought God wasn’t speaking it was simply that I wasn’t listening? Have I only been listening to my own vice and abiding God’s?
Admittedly, this is not necessarily a convincing answer for skeptics, but for believers such an answer should cause them to pause more and listen. My second answer goes along with the first. Perhaps in some ways I am too distant from God to hear the message, or I don’t speak the language? Perhaps God does not speak audibly with me because I am not in a position to understand God. Maybe I would be too proud for such a message. I think this is perhaps truer than we care to admit. We want God to use an audible voice because it gratifies a selfish desire in us. We want God to play by our rules. In fact I’ve read that as we give up this arrogant position, God does become more clear. Again this is unsettling because we have to take the word of others, trust them to be accurate and move somewhat blindly down the path. Perhaps God is only waiting on me to cede control, and I am unwilling off unable to do so.
The truth is God did communicate with many people audibly and they disregarded the message, am I any better than they are? No, no I’m not. How is it that more direct communication would be so life changing for me when it was not for these individuals?
In some ways I want less freedom and more direct involvement from God, including in God’s communication. I want God to simply direct my course in clear and obvious ways, not allowing me the opportunity to fall. But I’m also sure that this breach of freedom would negatively impact my ability to freely love God, which is what God is seeking. God desires love not fear, if I am not in a position to love God when I hear God’s voice, is it loving for God to allow me to hear that voice? It would not be right for us to say “God is love” if God was also coercive. There are definitely times in my life when God’s clear and active presence would be just that, coercive and negating to my ability to freely love God.
But I go back to the verse at the top of this post: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” The psalmist clearly understood a God who directly communicates with humanity; and a creation which sings praise to its Creator. The Gospel writers clearly understood a God who becomes a human to have audible conversation with humans. These writers also understood humans who missed this, many of them. So i end reminding myself of these facts. Truly I can miss God, perhaps I need to slow down, quiet down, and listen. I began saying coincidentally, maybe not so much…