Why do you accuse God of not answering anyone? God does speak—sometimes one way and sometimes another—even though people may not understand it. [Job 33:13-14 (NCV)]
In a “Beetle Bailey” comic (written by Greg and Mort Walker), the General says, “Chaplin, I’d like to talk to God like you do, but when I try to talk to him, He doesn’t answer.” The chaplain replies, “Maybe you’ve been calling the wrong number!” Indeed, sometimes the silence seems deafening when we call on God. Perhaps the general dialed correctly but missed God’s answer simply because he hung up too fast! Abraham didn’t quit as he pled for Sodom, Hannah didn’t quit as she prayed for a son, and Elijah persisted in praying for rain—God answered them all.
The General may have missed the answer because he was unfamiliar with God’s voice. Perhaps he expected to hear an audible voice as did Moses in the meeting tent or Paul on the road to Damascus. Maybe the general expected God’s message to be delivered by an angel from heaven as it was to Mary and the shepherds long ago. Most of us, however, will neither have a face-to-face meeting with God nor encounter a host of angels. Rather than an angel or a burning bush, it’s more likely that God will use the voices of other believers when He talks to us. He spoke through the prophets to the Israelites, through Jethro to Moses, and through Paul to Timothy.
Nature and natural events are another way God speaks. The thunder, lightning, quaking and smoke at Mt. Sinai certainly made God’s presence clear. He used both a flood and a rainbow in Noah’s time and something as small as a butterfly can speak to us today. Remembering that God has a specific plan for our lives, we can also find God’s voice in our circumstances. When, like the Israelites, our backs are to the Red Sea, He can be telling us to trust Him and when, like Jonah, we end up in the belly of a whale, He might be teaching us about obedience.
Dreams and visions are another way God speaks. It was in a dream that Abimelech was told not to touch Sarah and a vision led Ananias to visit Paul. God also He speaks to us through the Holy Spirit. While some refer to it as that “still small voice,” the Holy Spirit is anything but still or small when it points out our sins or has an assignment for us. Speaking to our hearts and often through our conscience, the Holy Spirit helps us discern God’s will, will convict us when we go astray, and give us sense of peace when we’ve taken the right path.
Perhaps the General forgot that God has already provided him with plenty of answers in the Bible. All of scripture is God-breathed and His word is filled with wisdom and guidance in both Testaments. The words of Jesus are as relevant today as they were over 2,000 years ago. We, however, have to do our part by reading those words!
Like the General, we all have times when it seems God is away from his desk and not returning our calls. God, however, never takes a break and is always speaking to us. He’s not silent—we’re just not listening with our ears, eyes and hearts! He is the shepherd who leads us but, in order for us to follow Him, we must recognize his voice. Fortunately, the more time we spend with our shepherd, the easier it will be for us to know Him.