Are You There, God?

[My wife and I had a conversation about this the other day. She had some really good thoughts that got me thinking more about the subject. She’s pretty amazing like that.]

Faith.

It seems simple enough. I can look around at the world and the universe and know in my gut that someone had to be behind it all. I can read the Bible and believe it’s claims that the Creator of the universe wants to have a relationship with me. My heart tells me that I am loved and that I am a part of something much greater than myself.

But what happens when the love I have for my Creator doesn’t feel requited.

What are we to do when everything around us is darkness and chaos, yet God is silent?

“If God would just speak to me like He used to speak to people, it would all be better. I would be able to fully trust and believe Him. Since I would know exactly what He wants me to do, I could better follow and serve Him. Just talk to me, God!”

I think most of God’s people think something like this sooner or later. It seems like a legit complaint. There are times when God seems distant and all we want is to hear His voice. If He would just speak to us, then everything would somehow get magically better.

But would it?

Humanity doesn’t have a very good track record when it comes to direct contact with our Creator.

Adam and Eve lived and walked with God in the garden. They still ate the fruit.

Noah was saved directly by the hand of God. He still passed out drunk and naked.

Abraham was God’s chosen man through whom He would bless all peoples of the earth. He still lied…twice.

Moses was in almost constant contact with YHWH for 40 years. He still had an anger problem.

David was anointed by God to be king. He still became a murderer, adulterer, and a liar.

Elijah was God’s chosen prophet by whom Ba’al was defeated. He still battled depression.

God told Jonah exactly what he was supposed to do. He still ran in the opposite direction.

Are you noticing a trend? Whether or not God speaks directly to you, that won’t make you any less human. It won’t make you any less angry, or afraid, or stubborn. It won’t magically make all your problems disappear.

Let’s look at one more example.

At the end of John’s gospel, we get to listen in on a conversation between Peter and the resurrected Christ.

Peter, do you love me unconditionally? [agapao]

Yes, Lord, I love you like a brother. [phileo]

Peter, do you love me unconditionally? [agapao]

Yes, Lord, I love you like a brother. [phileo]

Peter, do you [even] love me like a brother? [phileo]

Yes, Lord, you know I love you like a brother. [phileo] (John 21:15-17; my translation)

Peter was staring God in the face, looking into the very eyes of the Creator of the universe, and could not bring himself to say that he loved him unconditionally. He could only say that he loved him like a brother.

Fast forward a few decades. Peter is now writing a letter to Christians scattered across Asia minor. They were most likely 2nd generation Christians by now, far removed from Jerusalem and the time of Jesus. All they have to go on is the stories and testimonies of others. They haven’t seen Jesus or heard the voice of God. Look what Peter writes:

You love him unconditionally [agapao] though you have not seen him. And though not seeing him now, you believe in him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy…” 1 Peter 1:8

Talk about swallowing your pride. I can bet that Peter never forgot that conversation with Jesus on the shoreline. He was looking right at the resurrected Christ and couldn’t say that he loved him unconditionally. But now he is commending these Christians on their faith. They love him unconditionally even though they never even saw Jesus.

I can imagine some tears welling up as he pens those words.

Peter would be the first to tell us that hearing God’s voice directly doesn’t make it all better. It doesn’t take away our faults and our frustrations. It doesn’t replace heartache with happiness.

Only full submission can do that.

Peter wrote a few verses earlier that through God’s power, we have already been given everything we need for life and godliness. We just have to listen.