What is God Saying?

13 November 2006

11: And [the LORD] said, “Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent 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; 12: and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
The First Book of Kings

The above passage is one of the more famous from the Hebrew Scriptures.  It resonates, I think, with many people, because it assures us not only that God communicates with us but also that such communication is sometimes subtle, unexpected, or quiet.

Earlier this year, I began to get a sense of God speaking to me.  No, not in the sense of a voice or a vision or an easily decipherable sign.  I began to notice that God was speaking to me every day, sometimes subtly and sometimes not.  I began to attend Eucharist quite regularly, sometimes two or three times a week in addition to Sunday.  The sermons at these services were varied in their topics, as they were rarely given by the same person, but they almost all seemed directed to something that had been touching on me.  My sense of God speaking was first awakened in these sermons.

I was having my first inklings of difficulties regarding MCDS, and that day I heard a sermon about earthquakes, how we consider them destructive, but they are also constructive: the major crises in our lives —sometimes unexpected, sometimes quite painful, sometimes even violent— are not just jarring, but they are also fruitful.   It seemed every time I went into church, God was clearly speaking through these preachers; they were saying things I needed to hear.

It was easy to hear and understand God at that point.  It was spring, just after Easter, the main body of the school year was drawing to a close, summer was approaching, people were playing baseball: all was right with the world.  And how hard is it to hear God speaking then?  Not hard.  Not hard at all.

Now it is November.  The world is slightly drearier.  The school year is still young, with many months left to go.  The details of life less neatly sorted out: household worries of various kinds, from financial uncertainties to questions about the future; from our family’s timelines to general anxiety about how to do the things we want and need to do.

How hard is it to hear God speaking now?  Pretty hard.  It’s one thing to be hearing all these sermons that seem comforting and affirming, and it’s another to be struggling with one’s church life, discernment, and the management of a household.  If the sun’s out and things are chugging along, God writes you daily love letters.  When it’s chilly and things seems harder than usual, God . . . writes you what?

Psalm 94 (or 95, depending on your numbering) begins the Divine Office every day.  The reason Psalm 94 is said at the beginning of the day’s office is simple: every day we must remind ourselves “That today [we should] hear his voice,” and not harden our hearts.  The first psalm of the office reminds us to listen to God, for he is always speaking to us.

God is speaking even now.  God is speaking to me, to my wife, to our son, and to our whole family.  I believe this.  But what is God saying?

One of the things that this has done is grant me greater humility during this discernment and vocation process.  I still think I have a call to ordained ministry, but I am becoming warier of pursuing it aggressively.  Instead of moving along with the assumption that I am called and taking the necessary steps to get ordained, I should be seeking to do God’s will.  If I am, in fact, called to ordained ministry, then that will take care of itself.  We are all called.  We all have vocations.  Our vocations are to do God’s will.  Discern that and all will be well, as ordained clergy or anything else.

God is whispering right now, and the message isn’t always clear.  Is God in this, in these difficulties?  Yes, but he’s not making himself particularly easy to be seen or understood.  It feels as if God has gone from chatting over a cup of coffee in my living room to hiding in the closet while trying to talk with a mouthful of marbles.

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4 Responses to “What is God Saying?”

  1. Rich Says:

    I’ve always seen this as a call to a deeper level. Enjoy the seduction, even if you’re aren’t sure where you’re being led. Sometimes clarity can be over-rated.

  2. Pastor David Says:

    “If I am, in fact, called to ordained ministry, then that will take care of itself. We are all called. We all have vocations. Our vocations are to do God’s will. Discern that and all will be well, as ordained clergy or anything else.”

    Good for you! I think that many feel an attraction to the ordained ministry, because it is the only way that they can understand themselves as being called. Your patience, restraint, and prayerful discernment are to be commended. (by the way, what you have expressed is a very Lutheran understanding of vocation).

    I wonder at times like this, if we are not hearing God every bit as clearly, but the word is “Wait.”

    Whatever the case, you and your family, and your process of vocational and denominational discernment are in my prayers.


  3. Thank you, David. I’m glad I can be “very Lutheran” sometimes. My time in the Lutheran church and my readings in Lutheranism have influenced me some, most certainly in terms of my understanding of justification, but I guess in terms of my view of vocation, too.

  4. Chris Says:

    My little Episcopalian daily book has this Scripture quote for November 16th:

    Whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. (James 1:1-15)

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