Wednesday, May 8, 2013

God speaks!

Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me.
Job 38:3

The Lord does finally come to dialogue with Job just as Job begged Him to do. But the way in which God speaks is powerful. It is over the top with majesty, wonder, and strength. I am sure that Job trembled as God spoke to him. I'm a little shaky right now just reading this encounter!

I love the set-up to this dramatic entrance by God. Elihu wraps up his monologue with an extended metaphor of God at work in the storm (Job 37:14-20). Then he moves on to the brightness of God's power displayed in the clouds at the dawning of a new day (Job 37:21-24). I imagine the scene as a darkening storm moves in rolling power behind Elihu as he speaks. The tiny man is oblivious to the clouds behind him. He is nearly just a comic stickman gesticulating on the desert plain as the dark clouds of the storm that God is riding loom behind him.

On cue, the voice of God thunders from a tornado in the storm: "WHO IS THIS THAT DARKENS MY COUNSEL BY WORDS WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE?" The men have to be reduced to crying fear as God finally comes to answer Job and shut down the messy meanderings of four counselors who dare to speculate about God's purposes. It seems to me that the questions that God poses to Job are just as much for their instruction as they are for Job's consideration.

I have often wondered just what the voice of God might sound like. And in forty-two years of Christian faith I have never... repeat NEVER... heard an audible voice. NEVER. Not even a whisper. Oh, I've prayed for it in the past. I have wanted it bad when I heard other Christians brag about God "telling" them to do this or that or to share the gospel with someone who then dramatically converted. When my mother was terminally ill, she took up with some charismatic acquaintances once, who instructed me that I just needed to fervently pray deliriously (perhaps for hours or for days without end) until God "broke through". I tried for a while. Nothing happened. I reject this kind of advice now for two reasons: 1) I never see anyone in scripture doing this... and then getting rewarded with a divine visitation. It smacks of rubbing the lamp until the genie pops up. 2) It feels like psychological manipulation... more human activity than divine work. If a person obsesses about something long enough they will have some kind of experience. That's the doorway to charismatic chaos in my book.

Despite this I know without a doubt that God speaks to me although I have never "heard" a voice. Twilight Zone spirituality is in my opinion non-biblical. Here's why: I don't "hear" His voice... I read His voice... powerfully... clearly... without question. And that voice in the Word of God thunders so loudly with such profundity from the pages of holy scripture that I need nothing else to know God and the message He has for me.

No comments: