My husband of nearly ten years has taught me more about God than perhaps anyone else in the world. What’s interesting about this fact is that my husband has never “heard” a word from God, received a “timely bible verse,” or been able to “see” or recognize God moving. I’ve asked him to write a guest blog about what his life is like as a committed believer who “feels” absence from God, and yet, still believes. My hope is that those of you who have some sort of prophetic ability can understand those who do not, and that those of you who are like my husband can be encouraged by his vulnerability and honesty. ASIDE: Comments are moderated. I am unapologetic about this practice.
Without Hearing God
Some of you reading this blog have a gift, in some way, for hearing God. It may be a clear voice, or a clearly foreign thought that must be God, or a feeling, or a well-placed Bible verse that just so happens to apply to this situation, or a word from a friend who just-so-happened to know what was going on in your life. It may just be knowing something is true without having any reason for knowing or believing it — except that it’s actually true. This may just be what fuels your relationship with God, or what differentiates your relationship with God from someone else’s discipline of praying regularly.
Some of you; however, don’t have this experience. Some of you, in fact, have just the opposite. There is no clear voice, no feeling, no response to prayer. There is nothing. So what does this mean in regards to a relationship with God? How does your relationship with God function if you don’t have this gift of hearing? If all of your words and actions and cries out to God are left unanswered? If you go through life with no words, feelings, or any other input from God?
Because that’s my experience.
If, on a given day, I hear someone say that they can’t hear from God like they usually do, and it bothers them, I will have no compassion. Because that’s every day for me. And I long for real relationship with God.
And thinking about these questions leave me totally confused about what my relationship with God is supposed to be like. To explain this to someone who doesn’t understand, I can only propose these questions to you:
What would you do with a friend that you talk to, you write to, you come over to see, you cook for, you call on the phone, and your friend responds with nothing? Never laughs at your jokes? Never empathizes with your troubles? Never offers advice when you beg for their input? Never compliments you on your eggplant parmesan? Nothing? You wouldn’t call them a friend for long, I imagine. And for good reason – there is no relationship. By definition, without a past or present relationship, that person cannot be a friend.
But we are told the exact opposite about God. We are told that He is our Father, our creator, counselor, comforter, protector, provider, and even friend. He created us with the sole intention to have a relationship with us. And that makes sense – what on earth can we offer God that he can’t offer himself in abundance? Money? Time? Labor? Leadership? Talent? Everything else we would try to offer is quite limited and quite short of perfect. In contrast, though, imperfect relationship with imperfect beings leaves room for God to be a loving, creative mentor — to be all of the titles we’ve given Him. Relationship seems to offer something to God. So, what are those of us who don’t “feel” or “hear” God doing wrong that we cannot have a real relationship with the most capable being in the Universe?
We are told that we can find him when we quiet our soul and listen, because we are too busy; and we are told to pray to Him, but forget to listen when we are done. We are told to seek relationship by reading our Bibles. It’s all well-intentioned, it just doesn’t work for me.
I believe in the Bible, wholeheartedly, but I have no memory of God speaking to me when I read, even when I read every day, in the same chair, at the same time. I love being out in nature, and I can sit, quiet and alone, but when I wait for God to speak, he doesn’t. Situations come up in life that demand action, and I have no gut feeling as to what is right and wrong, what is from God, and what is meant to tear us down.
So, I end up with feeling like I have no relationship with God. What I do have is a small, but growing, understanding of how He operates and how his world runs, and a respect for Him as the One in control with the master plan who won’t forget us. On occasion I get upset, but in general, I’m not bitter about this. I just accept that this is my lot in life. I build up my wisdom to get me through situations, I work on my strength to get me through hardships, and I trust He loves me in ways I can’t see.
I end up believing because my faith is not conditional whether He speaks or not. Sometimes the value is in believing He loves you, even if you’re not hearing Him say it.