That is to say: Yahweh may, at times, communicate with us.
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His choice? Or Ours?
In the Oxford Group, which had quite an impact on early A.A. ideas, there was a great emphasis on listening—“listening to God,” it was sometimes called. Yet this emphasis did not seem to clarify that it was and is the Almighty, not the listener, who decides on the when, where, why, and what of the message conveyed. Any communication occurs and occurred because God chose to speak, not merely because the recipient had decided to, and become willing to. listen.
In a 1936 address to 25,000 people gathered in Birmingham, Oxford Group Founder Dr. Frank N. D. Buchman said:
Now I find when we don’t know how, God will show us if we are willing. When man listens, God speaks. When man obeys, God acts. The secret is God-control. We are not out to tell God. We are out to let God tell us. And He will tell us. The lesson the world most needs is the art of listening to God. A general once sent me a postcard, during an international conference, with the picture of a man on it. The thought below was this, “ God gave a man two ears and one mouth. Why don’t you listen twice as much as you talk?” (Frank N.D. Buchman, Remaking the World. London: Blandford Press, 1961, p. 35).
In a manifesto in the Rising Tide, November, 1937. Buchman made a snappier summary in a statement for which he became famous:
When man listens, God speaks.
When man obeys, God acts
(Buchman, Remaking the World, supra, p. 42).
Buchman’s biographer Garth D. Lean describes the origins of Buchman’s listening thesis as follows:
[Rev. F.B. Meyer asked Buchman] “Do you let the Holy Spirit guide you in all you are doing?” Buchman replied that he did indeed pray and read the Bible in the morning, and sometimes received inspirations then and at other times in the day. “But,” persisted Meyer, “do you give God enough uninterrupted time really to tell you what to do?” Buchman thought this over and decided to give at least an hour each day in the early morning to listening to God, a period which he came to refer to as “quiet time” (Garth D. Lean, Frank Buchman a Life, London: Contable and Company Limited, 1985, pp. 35-36).
Lean later also wrote the following:
Another decisive experience had resulted from F. B. Meyer’s question to him [Buchman] at Penn State—whether he gave enough time each day to asking God what he should do. . . . His immediate response had been to set aside an hour between five and six in the morning not just to talk to God, but to listen as well. It was his personal discovery of the age-old discipline of silence before God. In carrying out this experiment he was much encouraged by contact with Professor Wright and by studying his book. . . . The central theme of Wright’s book was that an individual could, through “two-way” prayer— listening as well as talking—find God’s will for his life and for the ordinary events of the day (Lean, Buchman, supra, p. 74).
And so it was that Oxford Group adherents, and many early AAs who followed their practices, spoke often of: (1) “Two-way prayer.” (2) Listening to God as well as talking. (3) Writing down every thought received. But somehow this often became warped by an emphasis on “listening” rather than upon whether God was of a mind to speak on this or that occasion or subject or question.
And that is part of the reason for this article: Was the practice of “listening” simply about getting quiet and expectantly awaiting an inevitable outpouring of thoughts, many of which were supposed to have come from God? Or was it an unsophisticated, non-Biblical, naïve theory that God was somehow waiting for man to seek silence, eager to pour out the Almighty’s will and instructions for the day, and yet not particularly awaiting man’s prayers or the emergence of a need or of God’s own timing for instructions.
Many many years later, Morris Martin (a highly educated Doctor of Philosophy) who was Frank Buchman’s “alter-ego,” often signed Buchman’s papers, kept Buchman’s records, and acted as his factotum secretary, wrote the following:
One big question had been tugging at the edges of my thought for years. Was the practice of listening for the guidance of God, as we practiced it, a shortcut to truth, or was it a dead-end road in which we listened to our own thoughts? Buchman had keen intuitive gifts, which gave him insights of a sort that I never had. I was never very original in my perception of God’s working in my life. My meditations resulted in practical lists of things to be done, people to be seen, with some thoughts which might be needed of me during such encounters. It was a valuable discipline, but, as I look back, I see it as not much more than that. The practice held dangers that surfaced when a strong-willed individual imposed his thoughts as if they were the words of the Almighty (Morris Martin, Always a Little Further, Tucson, AZ: Elm Street Press, 2001, p. 178).
In short, Martin questioned whether the Oxford Group receiving sets were getting messages from the Creator or merely reporting the thoughts of the receiver himself. And Martin probably fingered a question which necessarily arises out of the Biblical roots which were so often quoted by Rev. Sam Shoemaker in his prolific Oxford Group writings. One verse was:
And the Lord [Yahweh] came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth (1 Samuel 3:11)
Shoemaker and others often said of this verse that it indicated that (1) God had chosen to speak and (2) the servant was ready and willing to listen. Similarly, Shoemaker pointed to two different verses which described Paul’s willingness to listen once Jesus appeared to him and was the first to speak to Paul on the road to Damascus. Note that Paul did not address Jesus, or even think of listening. The verses state:
And he [Saul] fell to the earth and heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he [Saul] said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou percecutest. . . . And he trembling and astonished, said Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do (Acts 9:5-6)
Reporting the same event elsewhere, Paul spoke in his defense as follows about his response to Jesus’ questions of him:
And I said, what shall I do, Lord? . . . . (Acts 22:10)
In all three cases, Yahweh or Jesus spoke first. Then the listener indicated a willingness to do what was expected of him. There was not an outpouring of language upon an attentive, quiet, expectant listener. There was occasion for an utterance from above and an expressed humility on the part of the listener to see what he (the listener) was commanded to do. Shoemaker used the illustration that the event was not “Hear Lord; thy servant speaketh.” It was “Speak Lord; thy servant heareth.” There was an address from above, and then an appropriate response from the listener telling, in the first illustration, Yahweh that he would listen and do what was asked of him.
The point for this article is that the rich experience in which man hears or sees or discerns a communication from God is not at the daily whim of the man with pencil and paper in hand. It occurs sometimes when man asks to hear from God but as often, if not more so, when God chooses to communicate with man in any of a variety of ways in order to instruct him. It is then that man hears and should “listen” to what is on the Almighty’s agenda. And, as we shall see in a moment, both Yahweh and His son have often spoken or otherwise communicated in a variety of ways, in most dramatic forms, and on vital subjects. Let’s review the ways.
How God can and does communicate with man when God chooses to do so
We are not without solid information as to how and when God has communicated and talked with man and indicated He can communicate with us when He is the one that decides to do so. The following evidence is provided in the Bible:
1. The Creator can directly speak to, has directly spoken to, and may choose directly to talk to man, aloud and in a voice.
[Adam] And the Lord [Yahweh] God took the man [Adam], and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it. . . . (Genesis 2:15-16).
[Noah] And the Lord [Yahweh] said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation (Genesis 7:1).
[Abraham] And when Abram [Abraham] was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abraham, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect (Genesis 17:1).
[Moses] And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: And he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you (Exodus 3:14).
[All Israel concerning the Ten Commandments] These words the Lord [Yahweh] spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice; and he added no more. . . . And ye said, Behold, the Lord our God hath shewed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire; we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth (Deuteronomy 5:22, 24).
[Job] And it was so, that after the Lord had spoken these words unto Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends; for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath (Job 42:7)
[Jeremiah] Then the Lord [Yahweh] put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words into thy mouth (Jeremiah 1:9).
[Jesus] And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water; and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him. And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:16-17)
[John] And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away (Revelation 21:3-4).
Is Yahweh, the God that created the heavens and the earth, any less able today to speak out loud to man with a voice that can be heard and understood!
The Creator has spoken to man by His angels
[Hagar, the maidservant of Abraham’s wife, Sarah] And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. And he said, Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? And whither wilt thou go? . . . . And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction (Genesis 16:7-8, 11).
[Moses] And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed (Exodus 3:2).
[Gideon] And the angel of God said unto him, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and lay them upon this rock, and pour out the broth. And he did so (Judges 6:20).
[Joshua] And the angel of the Lord protested unto Joshua, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by (Zechariah 3:6-7).
[Mary, Mother of Jesus] And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women. . . . And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary; for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS (Luke 1:28, 30-31).
[Mary Magdalene and the other Mary] And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye; for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay (Matthew 28:-5-6).
[Peter] And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands (Acts 12:7).
[John] And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her. . . (Revelation 17:7).
Is Yahweh the Creator any less able today to send his angels that they may carry a message to a man, just as they did in the Bible accounts!
3. God has spoken to man by His son Jesus Christ
[Jesus to Philip] Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself; but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works (John 14:10).
[Jesus to Judas, not Iscariot] He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings; and the word which you hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me (John 14:24)
[Jesus to Jesus’ disciples in his prayers to Yahweh, Jesus’ Father] I have given them thy word; and the world hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. . . . Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth (John 17:14, 17).
The New Testament writings teach: Angels told the Apostles that Jesus was taken up from them into heaven and would return in like manner as they saw him go into heaven (Acts 1:9-11). Peter and Paul related that Jesus is on the right hand of God (1 Peter 3:22; Hebrews 1:3). He will return for the dead in Christ to join him; and other believers which are alive and remain with be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, then to be changed with the dead raised incorruptible, and the mortal, putting on immortality (1 Corinthians 15:51-54). Jesus spoke to Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-20). Paul relates to the Galatians that the gospel he preached did not come from man; that he neither received it of man, nor was taught it, but by relation of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:11-13). Jesus thus is thus said by Paul to have revealed to Paul most, if not all, the word that Paul taught. Is it any less likely that Jesus Christ can speak to man and reveal God’s will for man today!
4. The Creator frequently spoke to man through prophets—men who spoke for God that which God instructed them to speak to man
[Moses] And the Lord [Yahweh] said unto him [Moses] . . . Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say. . . . Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. . . . And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth; and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what to say. And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people. . . (Exodus 4:11-12, 14-16).
[Samuel] And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord. And the Lord appeared again in Shiloh: for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord (1 Samuel 3: 19-21).
[Isaiah] Then came the word of the Lord to Isaiah, saying, Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father. I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears; behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years. And I will deliver thee and the city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city. And this shall be a sign unto thee from the Lord, that the Lord will do this thing that he hath spoken (Isaiah 38:4- 7).
[Jeremiah] Then the Lord said unto me, Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying, Hear ye the words of this covenant and do them (Jeremiah 11:6).
[Jesus] But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house (Mark 6:4)
[Paul, explaining the gift ministries made available to believers today through Christ] And he gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers. For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edification of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12).
There are prophets today, just as there were prophets in older days. Is it any less likely today that God can instruct those He has chosen to speak for Him as to words He wants conveyed!
[Hebrews describes some of the progression] God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds (Hebrews 1:1-2).
The Creator communicates with man through the words in Scripture, words that are, in their totality, called the Word of God—the Holy Bible
[Paul wrote to Timothy] All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
[Peter gave further details] Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:20-21).
[Paul commended the Bereans for daily Scripture study] And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few (Acts 17:10-12).
[Paul also commended the Thessalonians for receiving the Word as the word of God, not simply as the word of men] For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe (1 Thessalonians 2:7).
Is it any surprise that A.A.’s co-founder Dr. Bob always stressed daily Bible study and that his wife Anne conducted regular, daily Bible study with AAs and their families and stated that the Bible should be the main source book of all with not a day passing without studying it!
God directly reveals information to man in other ways as well:
[Visions] “the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying. . .” (Genesis 15:1); “the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. . . . The word of the Lord came expressly unto Ezekiel. . .” (Ezekiel 1:1); “Then was the secret revealed unto Daniel in a night vision” (Daniel 2:19); Peter said: “I was in the city of Joppa praying and in a trance I saw a vision” (Acts 11:5).
[Writing commandments] These words the Lord spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of thick darkness, with a great voice; and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them to me (Deuteronomy 5:22).
[Revelation by God’s Spirit to man’s spirit when man operates the manifestations of word of wisdom, word of knowledge, and discerning of spirits] See 1 Corinthians 12:8, 10.
[Giving to a believer the abilities to operate still other manifestations of the Holy Sprit] (1) abilities to speak in tongues--speaking mysteries to God, giving thanks well, edifying himself, and praying with the spirit (1 Corinthians 12:10; 14:2, 4, 14-15, 17); giving the believer the ability to interpret the unknown tongue to edify the church as to what God has had him speak in tongues (1 Corinthians 12:10; 14:5, 13, 19, 27); giving the believer the ability to prophesy (1 Corinthians 12:10; 14:1, 3-4, 6, 13, 22, 24, 26, 31, 39).
Idols, lightbulbs, and goofy gods don’t and can’t communicate
When someone states that his “higher power,” is a group, a tree, the Big Dipper, or Santa Claus, he ought also to relate to you, if he can and will, just how often and how effectively he prays to a chair, a radiator, a rock or some other absurd name for a god. In fact, we all should probably just laugh and say to him, “Whatever.” In fact, when I had lunch here in Maui with the distinguished treatment facility founder Rabbi Abraham Twerski, M.D., I asked him what he thought about someone’s saying his higher power is a lightbulb. His reply: “It’s OK if they are foolish enough to believe it.”
In other words, why let some counselor, some fellow AA, some doctor, some writer, or some psychologist get away with advocating goofy idolatry. A.A. was never about a “higher power.” Or listening to a door knob. In the two places the term higher power was used in the Big Book, the term referred specifically to Almighty God (Big Book, 4th ed., pp. 43, 45-46, 100). Half-baked prayers based on self-made religion are far too ridiculous to let them dominate the 12 Step arena today. There is no evidence I know of that has established that anyone was cured of alcoholism by a rock, a light bulb, a statue, or Santa Claus—or by praying to them. There is ample evidence that early AAs were cured of alcoholism and said so quite frequently (Big Book, 4th ed., p.191; Dick B., When Early AAs Were Cured and Why. http://www.dickb.com/titles.shtml).
Further, Yahweh, the Creator commanded that there be no idol worship (which I call idle workship). We are told in God’s own Word: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord (Yahweh) our God is one Lord” (Yahweh). See Deuteronomy 6:4). Also: “Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you” (Deuteronomy 6:14).Also: “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them [any graven image], nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God and a jealous God” (Exodus 20:5].
Psalm 115: explains the absurdity to asking of, or listening to idols:
Wherefore should the heathen say, Where now is their God? But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatever he pleased. Their idols are silver and gold and the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: They have hands, but they handle not; feet have they, but they walk not; neither speak through they throat. They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them. O Israel, trust thou in the Lord; he is their help and their shield.
Long before treatment programs and foolish AAs began making up “higher powers,” God’s own Word made it abundantly clear that such “powers” were powerless!
So the study of God’s communicating should be about how He, the living and true Creator, can and does communicate, and when and how we can expect to hear from Him.
A Personal Conclusion about Fellowship with the Father
I’ve come to believe that there has been too much emphasis on a quiet time that should be set aside for “prayer and meditation.” The Word itself teaches that stillness is appropriate when we are dealing with God. But our need—my need--to communicate with Yahweh my Father is continuous. Not just in the evening. Nor in the morning. Nor in church. Nor in devotions. Nor in a fellowship. Nor in a meeting. Nor in a class. Nor for an hour a day. Which is not to say that it is unimportant to set aside a special time or times to get quiet, study the Bible, pray with thanksgiving and praise and confession and petition, and seek God’s guidance. But some in AA express in meetings that they just ask for help in the morning and thank Him at night; and those are not God’s instructions about communication, prayer, praise, etc. Doing so seems to imply that we have a “God Box” (as some AAs call it) where we place our problems, and then go about our business, expecting to receive an answer. It suggests that we are too busy really to go to the Father frequently. It suggests that some special “time” or ”place” needs to be found, set aside, and utilized to talk to and hear from our Creator and to write down thoughts that flow through our mind.. Perhaps it really suggests that the Almighty is far too busy and preoccupied with other people and places to stand available at all times for relationship, fellowship, communication, and attention with His kids. But what parent should or would take such a position!
The Bible tells us that the Creator is ever-present and completely willing to fellowship with his family at any time and at all times. Consider the promises in a well known Psalm, widely used in early A.A.:
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord (Yahweh), He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. . . . Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore I will deliver him, and I will answer him. I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him,
and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation (Psalm 91).
“Under the shadow” of the Almighty--a refuge, fortress, deliverance—night, day, darkness, noonday. No evil. No plague. No stumbling. No danger from lions, serpants, or dragons. This loving and caring is available in all your ways. You can’t be covered by feathers and under wings without being assured of the availability and presence encompassing!
And lots more:
In thee, O Lord (Yahweh), do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion. Deliver me in thy righteousness and cause me to escape; incline thine ear unto me, and save me. Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort; thou hast given commandment to save me: for thou art my rock and my fortress. Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man (Psalm 71:1-4).
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies. Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, plenteous in mercy (Psalm 103:3-8).
He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. Great is our Lord (Yahweh), and of great power: his understanding is infinite. The Lord lifteth up the meek; he casteth the wicked down to the ground (Psalm 147:3-6).
As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice (Psalm 55:15-16).
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him and delivereth them. O taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusteth him (Psalm 34:6-8).
I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me (Isaiah 45:5).
It seems quite clear that you can emphasize listening to God to the point that you get caught up in your own thoughts and writing them down while ignoring God’s ever-present concern and protection of His people. He may or may not communicate. He may or may not need to hear from you. You may or may not need to ask or listen.
God has a special, continuing, powerful, presence with those who believe on His son and have become His children:
[Jesus said, after he had been crucified, raised from the dead, and appeared to his apostles]: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; [If] They shall take up serpents, and if they if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. . . . And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen (Mark 16:16-20)
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you (1 Peter 5:7)
But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory, by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you (1 Peter 5:10).
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Colossians 4:19).
And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God (2 Corinthians 3:4-5).
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39)
That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin (1 John 1:3-7).
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments; and his commandments are not grievous (1 John 5:2-3).
I believe it is important to understand that our loving Creator talks to and communicates with us and gives us His written word to bless us through doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. But it is far more important to understand this His loving, caring, healing, supplying grace is not merely involved in communications. We love Him because He first loved us, and our love is best expressed by our walking in fellowship with Him, obeying His communications and commandments, and giving Him the glory. If we do this, we can expect Him to hear us and grant our petitions. But not merely by expecting Him to act only when we listen.
Bonnie L., along with her husband Ozzie, co-manages the birthplace of Bill Wilson (The Wilson House) in East Dorset, Vermont. She writes me often. She concludes her letters: “God is good. All the time.”
And He is. All the time. He looks after us all the time. And he communicates with us in all possible ways all the time when He decides to do so—whether we ask, or listen, or cry, or hurt, or are heavy-hearted, or are awake, or are asleep, or are completely silent. Our job is to keep in touch with him, be attentive receivers when he calls, to talk with him and walk with him, listen when He speaks, and be good and obedient children in the ways He lays out for us. All the time. And realize He will never leave or forsake us; even though He sends no messages, communicates no ideas, and has nothing to say.
It’s not just about listening. Not just about listening in a quiet time. It’s about walking and talking—all the time. Studying God’s Word all the time. Believing Him all the time. Thanking Him all the time. And keeping His will first on our agenda all the time.