Has anyone seen the preview for the new Noah movie coming out? It looks amazing. I’m excited for the movie, but that’s not why I’m writing.
We are doing 21 days of prayer and fasting in our church this month. I think anytime you doing a time of prayer and fasting, there is a heightened sense of expectation that God will do something, answer prayer, or speak to you in some new and profound way. I don’t think that’s all bad. I think that’s actually a good thing in a lot of ways. Doesn’t Jesus say that we have not because we ask not? And that we should ask in faith? And that even the faith of a mustard seed can move mountains? That heightened sense of faith is surely a good thing!
On the other hand, fasting can become more about manipulating God than about submitting to Him. We can treat him like a genie, and fasting becomes merely a skilled method of rubbing the genie’s bottle. We can begin to demand that He speak to us, or answer our prayers, because, after all, we are fasting! Fasting should be about positioning ourselves before Him, about obedience, about submitting to the one who IS God, recognizing that we, most certainly, are not, and about saying that He is better than ANY and EVERY other thing in our lives. It’s about clearing out our idols and making space so that He can speak to us, if He so chooses.
So, what does that have to do with Noah preview??? I’m getting there.
I struggle with wanting God to speak to me. I have these amazing friends who seem to hear from God far more often than I do. They have this sensitivity to Him that I envy. So, when I fast and pray, I am consistently begging for Him to speak to me like He speaks to them. Now, I should back up and clarify… I do think God speaks to me through His word, a LOT. BUT – it’s not enough. I want more. That’s not all bad. I think we should desire more and press in for more, but I also realize I need to be humble and grateful for anything the King of Kings should condescend to tell me, and in any way He should choose.
There’s the rub. I want God to speak to me. He wants me to search for Him. I want the easy communication. He wants me to dig for it. Read for it. Study for it. I just want him to tell me what I need to know. I was like that in school…and in life. I didn’t want to read the text book – that’s why I went to class; I was too lazy to learn it on my own. It was much better if the prof would just tell me about it, and generally school gave me that choice. God, however, isn’t giving me the “lecture” option. I have to read the text book.
I’m being a little dramatic here. I don’t actually want out of reading the Bible. I really enjoy that; I just want more. I want to hear from Him, too… about the daily living kinds of stuff, details that aren’t written out in Scripture. (I say this just to be clear—I don’t want you thinking I want out of reading the Bible!)
Anyhow –to summarize: I want to hear from God. I’m fasting, so I have a heightened sense of expectation. And now we get to the Noah preview.
In the preview, there is a line that stuck out to me: “He speaks to you. You must trust that He speaks to you in a way that you will understand.”
That’s the line. That’s the moment in the preview when I frantically grabbed a pen and paper and scribbled down the quote. God is personal. He speaks to ME. And since He knows me, REALLY knows me, He knows what I need. He knows how I communicate. He knows how I give and receive love. He knows how I interpret and understand His voice, and how I don’t. He knows what I’m pre-disposed to believe and what I’m prone to be skeptical about.
It’s much the same concepts as Craig Smith wrote about here, when he writes about how to read and interpret the Bible. Craig explains that, “So while the Bible has divine origins, the Bible itself should be thought of as human communication: it was intended for humans and written in a way that human beings could understand.” It’s the same principle. The Bible is written to mankind, in a way man would be able to receive it; and He speaks to us personally, in ways that you and I are uniquely, personally able to receive and understand.
I still want God to speak to me in different ways, and I don’t think I need to quit seeking and being open to that, but I am encouraged to remember that my relationship with God is personal. That means it will be unique to us, me and Him. Our language, our means of communicating will not be what works for someone else; it will be what works for us, me and Him. God is speaking to me, and He’s doing it in ways that will make sense to me and to our history…and I need to be grateful for that.
One final thought is that not only will He communicate in a way that will make sense for me, but He does so in a way that is good for me. That means that there may be ways that He could speak to me that I would understand, but that would not be good for me for one reason or another. He could write on the wall or speak verbally or through a burning bush—He has done them all before. Frankly, I might prefer that…it would take some of the guess work out of it for me! But I need to trust that, as a good Father, He knows that some things would not be good for my growth. (See more on this concept here.)
So, there it is. Search for more, always search for more—it is a relationship, after all—but in your searching, be grateful. God does speak, to you and to me, personally, uniquely, intimately, but also wisely. He does so in ways that will make sense to us, but also in ways that are good for us. Praise be to God!