When God Whispers
No matter what level of education you have, it’s easy to recognize the importance of punctuation. We recognize the weight of commas in sentences like “let’s eat, Grandma” versus this version with the omitted comma: “let’s eat Grandma.” One other punctuation mark I used quite frequently in my sentence structures as a child was that good old exclamation point. Let me refresh your memory. An exclamation mark indicates strong feelings, excitement, or high volume. That tiny point means some serious business.
Things really start getting crazy when the exclamation mark separates from the paper and inserts itself in physical circumstances. Perhaps you can remember your parents shouting “Go to your room!” or your coach bellowing at you to “run harder!” Maybe this even occurred when your best friend recently jumped high off the ground, excitedly screaming the news of her engagement. That silly little exclamation point has weaseled its way into so many conversations of our lives.
Even in the Bible, there were times when many individuals—even Jesus Himself—got excited. We find His exclamation mark in Matthew twenty-one when Jesus found people selling things in the Temple. And how about in John eleven when He shouted in a loud voice for Lazarus to “come forth.” It’s obvious He relayed some strong emotion. This mentality still has presence in our everyday lives, not only in the physical, but also in the spiritual.
These loud roars are significant, but what happens when there isn’t a shout? Yes, I know it’s hard to fathom a service where loud music isn’t blaring, or Sister Carla’s praise chant isn’t being heard from any row of the church, but let’s use our imagination here. Think about it. When the key changes, so do we; when our neighbor gets loud, we match their volume. If the prayers get crazier, many people feel like it’s their obligation to match the style. This “go-with-the-flow” mentality has desensitized many individuals. It’s amazing how much you can learn if you actually listen and think about what you’re doing and why you are doing it. We often think the thunderous degree in which we worship is what causes God to respond, but that is not always the case.
Take Elijah for example:
And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and break in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him… (1 Kings 19:11-13)
Elijah listened for God’s voice and wrapped himself in the ministry that day in a way many have lost sight of. Amidst the noise and the chaos, God was speaking in a different way. I’m not discrediting exuberant worship and praise. I think it’s important, and there is most certainly a place for that in our services. But I am saying this: you and I don’t always like to be shouted at, and we do not like for the person to whom we’re speaking to always be crying their eyes out and beating their fists against the wall. Maybe, just maybe, God feels the same way.
Perhaps another reason you are not hearing Him is due to distractions and other voices in your life. Maybe it’s time to turn down those distractions and those voices. Our society has become so media consumed that it’s hard to have a service where at least half of the congregation isn’t on their cell phones.
You cannot expect to properly hear a response if you refuse to stop talking or pushing God out. Let God have a turn. When our conversations are crowded with consistent pleas, cries, or one-sided discourse, the person on the other end could get quite frustrated. It can be in the quiet when you hear a voice the loudest. Just because your worship isn’t as demonstrative as your neighbor’s, this does not mean God is not hearing you. He is simply communicating with you in a distinctive manner.
So take some time to sit still. Stop yelling, stop prodding, stop whining. Though it is suitable in some cases, the exclamation mark should not be the only mark used in your sentences. Just wait and actually listen. Tune out the distractions and traditions. It is the sincerity—not the shout itself—that gets His attention. Many times the softest cry is the most desperate.
Psalms 46:10 articulates this idea beautifully with the words: “Be still and know that I am God…” Let us never attempt to shout when God is uttering a whisper.
Rachel Thorne was born in Florida and has lived in many places throughout the United States. She is currently attending Urshan College, formerly known as Gateway College of Evangelism. She wants to make a difference and change her world. Rachel is actively seeking the will of God for her life and is willing to do whatever He has for her.