God talks to us in many ways. Sometimes, it isn’t until much later that we realize that it was God. More often than not, words aren’t involved. One day, I was driving in my car, deeply depressed. It was an overcast, foreboding day, which wasn’t doing a lot for my
spirits. As I came around a curve in the street, a single beam of sunlight cut through the
clouds, brilliantly illuminating a mailbox. The name on the mailbox was Goodson, but one
of the o’s was missing, making it Godson. And not a word was spoken. You just have to
know the language.
I Was Talking With God the Other Day
My wife Ruth and I were in Wisconsin visiting my family, and we’d gone out to
dinner with my son, Aaron. I don’t remember how the subject came up, but Aaron asked me, “What do you mean when you say that God told you something?” Aaron is an Agnostic, but we’ve always had good conversations about my faith: a faith that Aaron once had as a child. It was a good question, worthy of a thoughtful answer. It all goes back to what is prayer? Prayer is just a conversation with God.
Too often, people think of prayer as asking God for something. It may be something good, like the healing of a loved one, or the strength to do a task set before us. But, prayer is much more than asking. If that was all it was, that would assume that we are wise enough to know what to ask for. As often as not, we aren’t. Sometimes, the most loving answer that God can give us when we ask for something is “no.” He knows what’s good for us far more than we do. There’s a difference between talking to God and talking with Him. Prayer is a two-way street. Listening is as important as talking. Sometimes our conversation is like the lines I wrote in a song many years ago:
We’d sit and we’d talk ‘till there’s no
more to say
But we never needed words, anyway
Winter to Spring by Jerry Rasmussen
And that’s the way that it is with God. Silence is a natural part of a conversation
with a close friend. Every available moment doesn’t have to be filled with words. God
often speaks without words when we are silently waiting for him to speak to us. In biblical
times, God sometimes spoke out loud, as he did to Moses. He also sent angels (Gabriel usually got the call) to deliver a message for him. Most of us don’t “hear” God speak in a stentorian voice (off screen.) And while I do believe that there are times when angels are sent to tell us something, they may not speak out loud, and they can come in the form of a person, minus the wings.
Many years ago when I was in a state of depression, caught in a trap of my own making, I was walking down the street in Stamford, Connecticut where I was living at the time. My head was hung low and as I was walking along deep in thought, I heard a little girl singing. I looked up, and skipping down the sidewalk toward me was a young girl singing A Mighty Fortress Is Our God at the top of her lungs. It took a moment to sink in, and by then she’d passed me. I turned around to look at her and the street was empty. A few weeks later, I was walking down that same street and when I came to the place where I’d seen the young girl, I was reminded of that day. At that moment, the carillon tower in the church down the block started playing A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. There were no burning bushes, and no words spoken, and yet God spoke to me clearly. Not to worry. God is a mighty fortress. He’s in the business of solving problems, if we just take them to him. God speaks to us. He doesn’t have to shout.
When I am in prayer, it is in the times of silence that God speaks to me. He may
direct me to do something as simple as to call an old friend whom I haven’t spoken to in a
long time, or to sit down and write about something that he has put on my mind.. More
commonly, God gives me a new insight into an old problem. At first, I may not understand what he is saying to me. I get the message, but not the meaning. It may take days or weeks, or even months of prayer, reflection and reading the bible before I fully understand what he is trying to tell me. Revelation comes slowly. I’ve learned to wait on the Lord for his enlightenment before I step out on faith
Every parent at some time or another has complained, “My kids never call me!” God must feel the same way. If we want to come to know God, it can’t be on a “Use as needed” basis. We need to spend time in daily prayer and reflection. Oswald Chambers in his book My Utmost for His Highest wrote:
The only responsibility you have is to stay
in living constant touch with God and to
see that you allow nothing to hinder your
cooperation with him.
The operative word in that statement is “cooperation.” The basic difference between
conversations that we have with God in contrast to our friends is that when God tells us to do something, we’re supposed to do it. God requires more than “cooperation;” He asks for obedience.
As for my son Aaron’s question, I answered him with a question: “Haven’t you
done things in your life because you felt that something told you should do it? For me, that “something” is God.