Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
September 16, 2007
If God is really Out There Why Doesn’t He Speak to Me?
My friend Banks is a devout Christian. He prays every day. Yet like most believers he sometimes wonders if there really is a God who hears our prayers. Recently, while riding in his truck in a pasture, Banks actually asked God why He never speaks directly to him. He got no answer, no word from the Lord.
A few hours later as he was reading his email he came across a lesson I had written. I had raised the same question he asked God: “Is anybody there, listening when I pray? If there is a God why does he stay hidden? Why doesn’t he speak up when I call out to him?” Startled, Banks thought, “That is exactly what I asked God this morning!”
In sharing this experience Banks said, “Then, with a clear voice, though not audible, God reminded me of rainbows and roses. He had spoken. He had answered my prayer with a direct communication to me. God really does hear!” Banks concluded by thanking me for my lesson.
What Banks did not realize was that God had also spoken directly to me—through Banks’ email. Let me explain. I spend a lot of time writing, and even more time trying to think of something relevant to write about. Not many people ever respond, pro or con, to my writing. People are busy with their own lives. I understand that.
But at age 75 I keep pondering the question, "When are you going to stop writing these lessons and columns and spend more time with Dean and your grandchildren?" Most of the time I think, "Well, Lord, all good things must end sometime, so I guess I will put down a final period at the end of this month, or maybe I will wait until the end of December." I hear Him saying, "I will love you just as much after you stop writing as I do now."
About the time I decide to hang up my saddle and turn the horse into the pasture, someone like Banks writes to say “You are making a difference.” It seems like God orchestrates these messages to encourage me to continue writing. I may be wrong of course. I could be imagining God doing this. There is no way to prove it. I will never know for sure. But it does seem “just like God” to make such things happen.
Do people really hear God speak? I believe so. I know I have, though never in an audible voice. But I have met a few people who claim to have heard God speak audibly. Estelle Carver said she did. She was a brilliant English teacher and a devout disciple of Jesus. I sat at her feet several times in a Bible study.
One day she said, "When I was 12 years old, I heard God speak. He called my name. It was an audible sound that deeply moved me to surrender my life to Jesus." Later someone asked Estelle, who was 75 at that time, if she had ever heard God speak again. Her reply was awesome: "No," she calmly replied, "One time was enough. I was so deeply stirred by His Voice that I have never needed to hear Him again."
Unlike Estelle I have never heard God call my name -- audibly. I have concluded that, for me, it was enough to have met a woman who had heard Him call her name. Her devout and holy life was evidence enough for me.
Have I heard God call my name in the chambers of my heart? Oh yes! Many times in my walk with Christ I have heard Him whisper in my heart, "Walk through this door that I have opened for you." Over the years I learned to walk ever more quickly through those doors -- and every time He has blessed me far beyond my deserving.
Seldom has such a decision been easy. Each time I have had to give up what I had before I could receive what He was about to give me. But that is the nature of authentic discipleship; we must relinquish what we have in order to receive the new blessings God wants to give us. If our hands are wrapped too tightly around what we have, then we have no open hands to accept God's new gifts.
My friend Joe told me about a young man who, having lost his job, went to see an old preacher. With clenched fists he said, "I've begged God to say something to help me, preacher, why doesn't God answer?" The old preacher’s reply was barely a whisper. The troubled young man stepped closer to the preacher saying, “What did you say?”
Again the preacher spoke in a soft whisper. The young man moved closer but still could not understand what the preacher was saying. Finally, with their heads bent together, the young man heard the old preacher say, "God sometimes whispers," he said, "So we must move closer to hear him."
Surely we would all be wise to
listen more intently, in the midst of the loud voices of our world, for God’s
gentle whisper. To hear we must get closer to the One who is the “Word” of God.
The sweetness of His Voice will make us wish we had learned to listen sooner. +
+ + .