"The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread." 1 Samuel 3:1
This verse is sad and familiar. God created Israel, and all of us, to be in close fellowship with Him. Yet a dreadful silence had descended upon the people. I wonder if they noticed?
It's not unusual to hear someone suggest that God is silent. In America's Four GodsPaul Froese and Christopher Bader write that one of the four main ways people view God is distant and uncommunicative. Interestingly, this group tends to have more years of education. I'll leave that little detail for a future edition of GraceWaves.
The Bible, however, uniformly presents God as constantly speaking. God's voice created the universe and all that is in it, except for man and woman whom He formed with His fingers from the dust of the earth (a powerful, personal, and deeply tender image). Psalm 19 marvelously claims that "day to day pours forth speech…their voice goes out through all the earth" (v. 2-4). The Gospel of John begins with the Word that was God and with God from the beginning before becoming flesh. The Word created all things and later became flesh so that He could speak to us first-hand.
The Hebrews conceived of the spoken word as a unit of sovereign energy, though they would not have used that kind of language. When it was spoken, something happened. This is why the idea of blessing is so important to them. Words somehow shape a destiny. So, if God is involved in our lives, then He must be speaking, for that is His nature.
Yet we can all relate to the feeling that God's word is a rarity in our lives. After all when was the last time you heard from God?
Yet he speaks, and that is a tremendously hopeful thought! The trouble with hearing Him lies in our reception, not His transmission. Strip away the barrage and clatter of the world, and the even louder noise in our heads, and you will hear God.
Our constant challenge is this: the world shouts, but God whispers. Always. Find a time to be still and you will hear the subtle sighs of God. Scripture, prayer, worship, the words of faithful friends, nature, etc. are all means through which God speaks. All of these "work" if we give them a chance.
Though this chapter of 1 Samuel begins with such despondency. it ends with plea and a promise that all of us can embrace this week. In the quiet watches of the night God called his name, and Samuel replied, "Speak Lord, for Your servant is listening."
Let that your prayer this week. Ask God to specifically address some area of struggle in your life. Then listen. The word of God is NOT rare these days. And a quick final assurance, God's speaking to you depends not at all upon your worthiness, but on your willingness. That is grace.
Dr. Terry Ellis
November 4, 2018