..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

When God is Silent: Knowing God on His Own Terms

When God is Silent: Knowing God on His Own Terms

I've been thinking some more about those
times when we feel that God is silent. This
usually arises when we ask God something
or we ask God for something and
we do not seem to get a response. The good
thing is that we are expecting a response
and do not expect God to be silent. The
hard thing is that we may feel confused,
or separated from God. Know that God is
always near, no matter what it seems like.

If we weren't expecting God to speak then
we wouldn't notice or care about His
apparent silence. The fact that you miss
sensing or hearing Him means that you
value His Voice. But it is our expectations
that can trip us up. We expect God to speak
in a predictable manner and He often speaks
or acts in a manner far different then what
we "expect."

I do believe that God is always present to
us, always there, but His communication to
us is not always on the level of human words,
and that is the level where we might be
looking for Him.

God is not like us when we get ourselves
in a pout and refuse to talk to someone. God
doesn't give us the "silent treatment" in the
way humans do. He is not playing a guessing
game with us. Praise His Name!

Words are the currency of human interpersonal
commerce. At least that is what has become
of words. Words are given and taken:
exchanged without thought or substance. Our
words are often empty. With God, however,
His Word has substance because He stands
behind His Word. He is who He says He is.
What He promises, He does! So perfectly so
that Jesus is called "The Word of God."
God's Word is fully incarnated in the person
of Jesus. And His Word may already be
active on our behalf while we are waiting for
God to speak "words" to us. Jesus, His Word may
already be at work!

Our answer may be physically already on the
way, but we are looking for a verbal form of
it to reassure ourselves. I ship a lot of things
through the post office and often rely on
delivery confirmation emails to
assure me that a package has arrived. Sometimes
the package has already arrived but
the delivery confirmation says it is still
"in transit." There is a spiritual equivalent
to this. God may have sent the answer but it
comes separate from human words. The
confirmation comes later! (compare
Daniel 10:12-13).

On our side of things, our words are
often empty or unreliable because we are half
empty or unreliable. Out of our hearts, our mouths
speak,and often our hearts are quite empty. I have
several large dogs. Sometimes they open their
mouths quite wide and bark loud open-mouthed
barks. They literally blow a lot of air at me. They
usually do this to call attention to themselves and
to let me know they most definitely want something.
They are not trying to hold a mutual conversation,
no, they are trying to demand something.

C.S. Lewis' speaks of this in his grand work,
"Til We All Have Faces." Orual, one of the woman,
spends her life concocting a treatise of blame
that she will read against the gods. When she
finally gets ready to read her treatise--a long,
long roll of complaints--it shrivels in her hands
to a small bit of paper that contains the "real"
speech that has been laying "idiotlike"
in her heart.

At first she is furious, accusing the god's
of treating her badly and then taking away
her right to accuse them. But Orual has a
moment of realization when she hears what
she really has deep in her heart, "I saw well
why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor
let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of
us, why should they hear the babble that we
think we mean? How can they meet us face to
face, till we have faces?"

Indeed. God wants to meet us face to face,
but we must have a true face to speak to.
He will not speak to a false face, or a mask
or a guard that we put up. He wants
to speak to the real me. He wants to speak to
the real you. Sometimes we don't even know
that it is not our truest self speaking. Sometimes
we do not know that our words are borrowed
from others but are not our own. God knows.
He knows it would not help us to speak to that
false self held up with false words.

Moses wanted to see God face to face. But that
is not the case with everyone. The Israelites
preferred to send Moses up to the mountain
rather then face God themselves. Moses DID
want to see God's face but God told him that he
could not for he would die. For us, we see the
face of God in the person of Jesus, but when we
look upon Him, all that is false will wither
and die. We cannot encounter God on our
terms, but we must encounter Him on His terms.
We have to be prepared for an encounter
that we cannot control!

This morning, the "morning show" was discussing
the queen's visit to the United States. They asked
the president's wife if the president had to observe
all the same protocol (waiting for her to extend her
hand or speak first, etc) as everyone else when he
spoke to the queen. After all, he is the president.
Her diplomatic response was, "Yes, he does, but
the queen is really personable and nice." So is our
King, but we must still show Him respect and
let Him speak to us in His own way. He really is
trying to speak to us in the most life-giving way
possible. We may want a quick response, He may
have a better plan.

The ways of God take time and commitment to
come to know. Do not think that God is not listening
or that He has forsaken you, or that He will
not answer. Your response to the apparent
silence of God has much to teach you. Wait on Him
with great faith. He always answers the honest

This is the fourth post on the subject of the silence
of God, and there is one more post coming on this subject!

No comments: