I don’t know about you, but whether it’s a conversation with a person or with Almighty God, I understand when someone has communicated with me. When a piece of intelligence has been received by my brain from a source outside of myself, I know it. There is no need for second-guessing.
Insanitybytes22, in a post titled “Of Banality and Bacteria,” discussed the idea that God communicates with each of us in specific ways. She said: “He does speak to us personally in ways only we can understand….One reason I know it’s God is that His voice is calm, direct, and never impatient. My own voice will sometimes call me names, say things like, “that was dumb,” or be sarcastic or cynical. Never once has God spoken the least bit critically to me…”
I wrote about one notable experience when I “heard” from God. I quote that word because it turned out a reader understood me to mean that I had been hearing audible voices (I had not), which lead to an interesting discussion about gullibility, the essence of communication, and magnets.
Does God “speak” to us? The answer from most believers in Biblical evangelical Christianity would be a resounding yes.
Reason # 1: The Holy Bible. It is the canon of God’s will to communicate to all of humanity over the course of nearly all of human history. Jesus Christ is called “The Word.”
In Revelation He takes up a scroll that no one else in creation is worthy to open containing the message of God’s righteous will. God sent prophets to speak truth to His people over hundreds of years. His apostles wrote letters to the churches full of inspired teaching. Again in Revelation, God calls His messages of warning and hope to the holy church “letters,” …Words, prophecies, messages, letters: all are words for communication. God speaks to us.
On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches…”
…I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me.
To speak is to communicate content from one mind to another. In all of creation, only the Creator and his human creations communicate verbally.We alone are made in His image and only we communicate in words.
Our Judeo-Christian faith is uniquely word-oriented. The standard, the benchmark, the history and the creed for Christianity is The Bible. Christianity is word-oriented, content-full; its aim is clear comprehension, not gnostic mystery. In illuminated manuscript images, Jesus Christ and the four gospel writers are holding books; books to represent The Book and to signify the importance of words and of The Word.
Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals.
It’s all to signify communication of The Truth. In fact the Bible says God is literally communicating all the time, and that He has designed communication into the essence of His Creation:
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world. Psalm 19
And: “…But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:31.
Our God is a Person, an Intelligence, a Spirit, who values communication. Many believers would tell you that He has “spoken” to them personally, with specific content to apply to their situations.
Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
We are all hyper-sensitively conscious of other human beings. We sense when someone else is in the room before we turn around. The automatic response to another sentient consciousness is built deep into our being. We cannot actually ignore the existence of another person. Doesn’t everyone know when they have been spoken to by someone else?
Of course, sufferers of mental illness can imagine they’ve been spoken to when they have not, or they can mis-identify the source. But it’s far more unusual for a person to fail to recognize when they have been spoken to.
The message from outside my mind may consist of information I did not have before the communication, or thoughts I would be highly unlikely to think on my own, or answers which, to me, are counterintuitive.
How do I know God spoke to me?
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
The character of the message matters. Let me assure you that a word spoken in a patient, confident, assured manner would never come from inside my brain. An encouragement to loosen my grip on the things and the people I desire to control would not come from inside me. A message saying “Don’t hurry, ” a voice which is “calm, direct and never impatient” would not ever originate in my mind.
If you were to interview individual believers about the manner in which God communicated to them, you would likely find nearly as many methods as individuals.
How many times have I sat listening to a sermon and wondered if my pastor had our house bugged because he was speaking directly to a conversation I had had with one of my kids the day before? Where the content matched up so well with what was discussed in two or three different Sunday School classes which were planned without knowledge of one another or of the sermon?
Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll.e
I desire to do your will, my God;
your law is within my heart.”
If He is speaking all the time, why do we not hear His communications…all the time?
Why do we not hear every bird chirp and call? Why do we not hear all radio programs automatically? Why do we not eagerly follow the advice of our Moms when we are 14?
We tune Him out. We have to intentionally tune in to receive. We prefer self-will and reject sound wisdom. As for recognizing His messages which present themselves through circumstance, we can sit in the same room with 2, and 2, and 4, but fail to introduce them to one another.
I may even ask God to answer a question, but find myself staring at a blank and silent ceiling. I will build a wall high and thick to keep Him out, and keep that secret even from my conscience. God can send His message clean through any wall if He wants to, but even then I have to be willing to hear His answer. My last and most effective line of defense is my ability to ignore and dismiss.
Then there’s noise. We allow so much noise into our lives that it is very hard to hear. I think we may be the most distracted generations in the whole of human history. Even if we try to cut down on our entertainment habit, amusements are relentlessly throwing themselves at us around the clock. You cannot walk down a street or through a public building without some kind of media assaulting your attention.
If we are willing, usually through trial, humiliation and surrender, and usually through some considerable effort, to “hear,” then we may understand what the mighty yet still, small voice is telling us. Most of us need serious re-assessment of self through getting knocked down a few pegs before we’ll listen to anybody but ourselves.
I’ve recently discovered that He will wait, never giving up on us. He will wait with everlasting patience until we are just about desperate to know. Then He will be heard.