When God speaks, how do we know whether or not we’re listening?
Many times we get stuck thinking God has grown silent on us. Maybe what’s really happened is we haven’t yet figured out how to discern His voice from the noise of the world. Sometimes, I even find God’s silence to be the best answer of all.
LISTENING TO SILENCE
When I pray, I know God is listening. I don’t always feel a response, but I can feel His presence listening to my words, paying close attention to my thoughts and my heart. For many of us, silence can be uncomfortable or disconcerting, and so the same reaction applies to God; we don’t want the silence, we want His answer. But God created the silence as much as He created the music of life—can we learn to appreciate both, and to understand the unique ways He speaks to us through each?
THE BEAUTY OF SILENCE
Sometimes silence carries with it the horrors of depression. What I mean by that is, for some people, silence creates the space and time to consider everything hidden by the noise of life, such as our problems and stressors—so people run from it like they would a pouncing lion. However, silence doesn’t always have to allude to sadness or anxiety. Sometimes silence is the peace between the waves crashing on the ocean shore. Sometimes, silence is the breeze coming through the window on a beautiful spring day. And sometimes, silence is the ecstasy of getting lost in the loving gaze of someone special. In so many instances, silence is not always connotative to something unpleasant or melancholy; with God, this is also the case. Silence is one of the most beautiful, ravishing ways the Lord communicates through to us—so if we’re too busy paying attention to all the noise in the world, we’ll miss this precious treasure coming straight from the heart of God, Himself.
CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD
Prayer is the communication between us and God. Prayer can be viewed like that of a conversation: God speaks, then we speak—and when the other speaks, we listen. Trusting in God’s voice is like trusting a parent when they say, “Jump, I’ll catch you!” Do you trust them, or do you stall and think about it?
God is the parent constantly promising us He will not let us fall no matter what happens; reminding us to constantly keep our eyes on Him. To put that into some perspective, we must ask ourselves: As often as God communicates with us, are we communicating back? Again, are we listening? What are we saying when we respond? Do we only initiate conversation when something is wrong? Do we only reach out when we’re upset? When God responds, are we able to accept what He offers, or do we treat His answers like an 8-Ball—shaking the conversation when we don’t like what we hear to see if His words change? When we hear what we don’t like and we stall to wait for a “better” response, the reality is that we’re really stalling to wait until we can accept His response. We probably don’t always realize this to be the process taking place, but it’s true. God knows better, and so many times, it’s much easier to believe giving God some time will change His response to something more digestible and convenient. That is delusional, of course—and it will keep us standing still in life.
Something we fight tooth and nail for, more often than we care to admit, is the way we claim we trust in God without following through with what He says when He says it, convinced there must be a better way to get through what we’re troubled about. Unfortunately, the longer we take to genuinely trust in God, the longer it will take to see our lives take shape, fully embracing the challenge of our souls like building muscles in a workout—developing our trust in God as well as the strength of faith in our hearts. When we practice listening, we practice blocking out the noise of the world. When we’re listening, we’re trusting; when we’re trusting, lives change.
Maybe we’re too humiliated to admit our desperation to hear God, and those of us who feel frustrated by the noise of life may find it easier to believe there is no God even talking at all.
I empathize with people who feel this way because I once felt the same. It’s very difficult to be open-minded about God when the world seems to be growing faster in corruption and slower in understanding and patience. Additionally, witnessing the reality of the world’s corruption makes it difficult to hear God’s voice. Even so, we can’t blame God for not being loud enough if we are unwilling to slow down and try to hear His voice more clearly. We cannot expect the world to be what we, ourselves, are unwilling to embrace.
For an example, I will use world peace to illustrate my point. How could world peace be possible if those who were seeking it acted with coercion, intimidation, and aggression? Claiming God doesn’t exist because we can’t hear Him may in truth be quite telling of our level of surrender to the very qualities we find ourselves begging the world to embrace. Can we claim to fully believe in a world at peace if we fight corruption with bitterness and self-pity? Can we complain about the state of our world if we’re unwilling to set an example for others to follow? Most importantly, can we blame God for the mistakes of the world if we haven’t even given God permission to enter our hearts and renew us for the better? In other words, if we are unwilling to accept Jesus into our hearts, do we really expect Him to help others—or the world?
THE LIVING EXAMPLE WE NEED
By the way, Jesus came to be a living example of the best way for the world to work together; by loving others and directing the reason why we love others back to our heavenly Father. Interesting how we can interject the truth into this story that, as a society, we claim to want world peace while we claim not to be able to hear God, and that there isn’t enough love, selflessness, mercy, or understanding to go around to change the world. When no one had the power or the courage to take the first step towards real change, Jesus came and spent His entire lifetime being the example we need. The eyes of history, enveloping around the story of Jesus Christ—are survived by the authors of the Bible, and the hearts of every believer that passes the truth of Jesus’s love from generation to generation. How else—in fact, why else—has the news of Jesus passed down over two thousand years? Because His truth is the Truth.
Sometimes we get so frustrated with the way the world is now that it seems like we’re soldiers of war–the war of life on Earth–and we’re peering ahead into the fog of the battle, wishing there were only someone to show us the way…. but if our eyes would continue beyond just ahead, there is a light coming through the fog revealing to us that the fog itself is not the end, but only a distraction—that through the fog is Christ Himself—already paving the way for our lives. If we would only take the risk of walking into the fog that is life—even when we’re unable to see past only one step at a time—with faith in the undeniable power of Jesus, then we would experience for ourselves that the way to what we want in our world can be found in the person of Jesus.
SOLACE IN SILENCE
Silence is a beautiful way for us to hear from God, but it isn’t the only way. My hope is that you will find solace in understanding how effectively and powerfully God speaks through silence, as well as through people who pursue Jesus with their hearts. I also hope you will consider the way you listen for His voice, and make room in the areas of your life where you could try harder. God is always speaking, and perhaps with a little more commitment to giving God room to be heard, we could make the best of what He wants us to hear. May it be so, in Jesus’s name.
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