When I was a child, I thought talking to God meant waiting for thunder to clap syllables. I thought that if push came to shove, He could be loud, obvious, and unquestionably God. He could cut through static and talk to me clearly from the sky like some principal on the intercom.
“Excuse this interruption, but this is Abba God. I will need Rachael Weisinger to report to room 102. I repeat: Rachael Weisinger, please report to room 102.”
At night, I would yell a question and stare at my bedside lamp trying to “make it easy” on God. If the light flickered once, He meant yes. If the light flickered twice, He meant no.
“God, am I going to get married one day?”
The lamp stayed glowing.
“God, am I going to stay single for the rest of my life?”
The lamp—thankfully—stayed glowing.
It would take years of flickerless bedside lamps and syllable-silent thunder to realize God was never in them. He was talking, just not in those ways.
If there ever was an Old Testament prophet who understood the struggle, it was Elijah. We find him in the Book of Kings waiting for the presence of God.
And [God] said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke 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 the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
1 Kings 19:11-13, ESV
God wasn’t in the strong wind or in the earthquake. And He wasn’t in the fire. Where was He? In the still, small voice.
Meanwhile, I spent so many of my early Christian years looking for God in the earthquake. I kept waiting for God to materialize out of my ceiling fan like Genie from Aladdin. Maybe He’d do a dance number and highlight neon signs to point to major life decisions.
But God doesn’t want to be my genie. He doesn’t want to be my Magic 8 Ball. He has no aspirations to be my principal or talk morse code to me through my bedside lamp. He wants to be my best friend. He wants to walk beside me in intimacy, not signal 100 yards away like some baseball coach.
Think of how aggressive it would be on my roommate Ashlyn if every time I welcomed her home from work, I stood up with pots and pans and bellowed, “YE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD. WELCOME.” Or how ridiculous it would be if I only handed her fortune cookies every time she had a question for me.
When I catch her through the front door, I welcome her with a smile. “Hey, there,” I say softly from the kitchen table. I just sit there, letting her know that I’m not too far away. That I love living with her. And that if she wants to talk about her day, I’m here.
Communication from Relationship
The closest friends in my life are the ones who don’t necessarily “fix” a situation before my eyes but are the ones who hold me when I cry. My closest relationships aren’t the ones that answer questions like a store representative. They’re the ones that leave me encouraging notes, whisper, “It’s going to be okay,” and let me snot into their t-shirt armpits.
God can give me point-blank answers. He can give me a treasure map with clear instructions. He can bellow through fire and create a dictionary for smoke signals. But more often than not, it’s in our day-by-day relationship that I hear His voice so clearly.
His words are in Scripture and conversations I overhear in Target. I find His responses when I’m lying down next to Him in bed believing His arms to be wrapped around my waist. He sings songs to me at work and highlights storylines in books. He communicates with me when I’m quiet enough to listen, when I welcome His presence and not just His solutions.
So many of us are waiting for a “Yes,” “No,” or “Maybe” to make us feel connected to God when it’s intimacy that brings us answers—not the other way around. God’s communication will flow out of a relationship, and it will be through that place we find Someone so much more loving than Siri. The still, small voice is better. It’s always been better. We’ve just been too impatient to see why.
Featured Image by Annie Spratt