Listening To God – Greg Albrecht
Many believe God makes himself known primarily through catastrophic events—like hurricanes and earthquakes and floods. During such times, the “accepted wisdom” is that God is expressing his displeasure with someone or some group of people.
God, some say, is actively sending a message when the land is dry and parched by drought or when fires rage, destroying homes, crops, animal and human life.
Does God communicate in what insurance companies call “acts of God”? If he does, are “acts of God” the only way he has of communicating (presumably only his displeasure)? Are there other ways God “speaks” to us?
Some would say (I am among them) that we hear God through the birth of a baby, the love of a child and through a sunrise or sunset. We can, I believe, sense and smell God in the fresh aroma after it rains, and in the forgiving, cleansing purity of a fresh snowfall, its white coat gently covering the barren and besmirched earth.
Many religious professionals who say they speak for God, or at the very least try to explain God, believe God sends messages through loud, attention-grabbing catastrophes and suffering. Some church-goers have been so brainwashed they feel a “good” sermon fills them with shame and guilt. Many evaluate the effectiveness of a sermon based on whether they felt so low and beaten down they could have left the closed door of the church by slithering, like a worm, under it.
By that token, if “good” sermons are characterized by bellowing and shouting, then, if you have seen any footage of the spell-binding propaganda of hate, swill and rubbish that spewed out of the mouth of Adolph Hitler, you’d think he was an exceptional preacher.
Noise and Busyness
Our world is filled with noise—the bigger the city we live in, the more people and the more traffic, the more noise we are exposed to—even small towns are overwhelmed by racket and clamor.
One cannot escape the clamor and hubbub of traffic, factory and office, for when one returns home, much racket and commotion continue. Washing machines, vacuum cleaners, microwaves, blenders, televisions and all kinds of sounds from electronic devices seem to be incessant, warring against a quiet place that offers a peaceful sanctuary.
Even as one day becomes another, in the early hours of the morning, there are train whistles, sirens of police and emergency vehicles and sometimes police helicopters whirring overhead.
Lawn mowers and leaf blowers rudely interrupt the blessed quiet of mornings. Houses with children come alive with chatter, arguments and debates. Early in the morning, school buses rumble and giant garbage trucks rattle their way through neighborhoods.
Buses rumble on city streets, horns honk and even when trucks and cars are stopped at traffic lights, they are belching exhaust—then the light changes to green. These devices of transportation accelerate and reverberations are left in their wake.
Ironically, the most common remedy to find “peace and quiet” involves plugging into a different kind of noise and busyness. It seems the most widely used cure is the discordant commotion and demands for immediate responses from electronic devices and gadgets.
In all our progress and technology, it seems our appetites (or is it addictions?) for clamor, commotion, hustle-bustle and frenzied activity have increased, and in turn, our desire and capacity for being still have greatly diminished.
Have we been acclimatized to seeking “peace and quiet” by plugging in to more noise, listening to “phones” and virtually enslaved to all manner of electronic devices? Does noise equal connection?
With the volume of sound so loud and almost inescapable, how do we listen for God? Has our cultural noise deafened us to God? How can we hear him?
I’ve worn hearing aids for about two years. With an assist from these devices, my hearing has improved. Having my physical hearing improved has helped me become more aware of my need to listen more carefully to God.
Of course, God doesn’t need any devices or aids to help him hear me, but I readily admit to being “hard-of-hearing” on many occasions when he communicated with me. I need spiritual hearing aids enabling me to listen by grace through faith. Such hearing aids are not humanly produced and marketed. Such spiritual hearing aids are the gift of God.
Some say God is silent, particularly at times of trauma and pain in their lives. Others say they speak for God and will say that they know God better than anyone. They are dogmatic and opinionated. They say they have all the answers.
But the fact is, in spite of characterizations of many who say they speak for God, there are many times in our lives when God seems to be passive or silent. There are many times when he does not answer us when we pray, or, better said, he does not answer us in the way we expect or desire. Surely he hears us—does he have selective hearing (as many wives conclude of their husbands)?
On our part, we must admit that we only want God to say something when his message benefits us. We are delighted to accept God’s silence when it comes to a past we don’t want to be reminded about or want anyone to know about.
We are thankful God is silent about how bad we have been—but we would really like to hear him tell us how pleased he is with how good we are—at least when we think he owes us because, in our less than humble estimation, we have done some remarkable, exceptional and wonderful things.
Why does God seem to be silent when we believe he should be recognizing our righteousness and goodness? Why is God silent when we think he should be pinning a medal or ribbon on our chest, or giving us another spiritual trophy for our trophy case? Why is God silent when he could stop pain and suffering?
Why doesn’t God say and do what we think he ought to say and do when we think he should?
God Speaks to Us
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