“Why do you complain to him that he answers none of man’s words? For God does speak—now one way, now another—though man may not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men as they slumber in their beds, he may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings, to turn man from wrongdoing and keep him from pride, to preserve his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword.”
God does speak, though man may not perceive it. Notice that the Bible says we may not perceive it, not that we cannot perceive it.
A relationship with God depends on our participation. I remember my six-year-old daughter coming home from Girl Scouts one evening and asking what “participate” meant. It seems another Scout, Kelsey, did not want to participate in some activity at the meeting. I said Kelsey did not want to join in with what the other Scouts were doing. The same “joining in” applies to God; we need to actively pursue hearing God’s voice, so that we may perceive it. So much depends on our willingness!
We’re back to that old free will issue. God allows us to turn away or to turn towards him. We choose. A relationship is mutual; if one party disengages, there is no connection. And since the Lord is faithful and constant, which party will stray? The burden of reaching out rests on us, because God has already done his part. The Bible says God has made himself known through creation, therefore man is without excuse (Romans 1:20). He has also given us his Word, which is a living and active communication (Hebrews 4:12).
Are we willing to spend time in daily devotions with the Word and prayer? Are we willing to forgo some other activities to place a relationship with God and his people ahead of other pursuits? Are we willing to turn off the TV, radio, computer, or cell phone to seek God in the ways He speaks?
We probably won’t hear God’s voice while listening to Two and a Half Men, the Penguins game, Bob FM, or Conan O’Brian. More likely, the traditional means God speaks—through his Word, his messengers, or the Holy Spirit nudge—will work better.
Best of all…quiet! As the Scripture says, he may speak to us at night, in our ears, when there are no other distractions. I sometimes experience this myself: My aging body wakes me at 4 a.m., and I can’t get back to sleep. I lie there, thinking and praying in the silence. I wonder what I should write about, and God drops a word or two, a subject, into my mind. This is not audible, only to my heart and mind. It comes as an idea.
Another means God uses with me is to have multiple sources pointing to the same Bible passage. For example, my daily devotional reading references Ephesians; the minister at church speaks on the Armor of God; and my favorite Christian radio show airs a segment on—what else? Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus. I get the feeling God is directing me somewhere.
He does speak, so I am training myself to listen. It will always be a battle with our enemy dangling distractions everywhere in our path. Technology entangles if not properly managed. However, we have a powerful ally in the Holy Spirit, that third person of the trinity I sometimes (grievously) forget. When straining to hear God’s voice, life takes on a three-dimensional quality. Instead of merely plowing through the flat demands of the day, we tap the divine perspective. What a participation gift!