It used to drive me crazy. I would ask my dad a question, and rather than give me an answer, the newspaper would go up, his face hidden behind the sport’s page. I couldn’t tell what he was thinking; if he was considering the answer he was going to give, or just ignoring me.
Sometimes, I feel like God does the same thing. At times when I desperately need an answer to a question, He seems to hides His face. I don’t like it.
What makes God turn a deaf ear?
Consider a courtship between a couple. During this time of wooing one another, one is making a point of learning the other’s love languages, he is speaking words of affirmation, spending quality time, giving meaningful gifts, providing acts of service, etc. while she is oblivious to these efforts.
God is the One wooing us. He knows our love languages and is speaking them all the time. Do we know His love language? A friend of mine, who has also experienced the silent treatment, shared his own revelation.
” I asked God if there was something wrong; was this punishment for something I had done? I immediately felt this great sadness overwhelm me. I just began to love on Him, to worship and praise Him, and there He was. I realized in that moment, that we are a couple, and He needs to be on the receiving end of my affections too.”
As in all relationships, there has to be an intentional effort made to connect with one another. If your text messages or phone calls go unanswered, there is a natural response to withdraw out of fear of rejection. Danny Silk, in his book, Keep Your Love On (Loving On Purpose, 2013), explains it well: “The truth is that every relationship has one of two goals: connection or disconnection. These goals are revealed by the skill sets people adopt to achieve them.”
Are we intentionally making it our goal to connect with Him? How about while you’re lying in bed, hitting the snooze button for the umpteenth time? Or while you’re scrolling though Face Book to see how many “likes” you’re getting on a selfie you posted? In a world where we’re constantly jockeying for position, ensuring our value is not going unnoticed, we spend more time looking for the approval of man instead of the One Who gave us our very existence. But God is the perfect gentleman. He doesn’t push His way into our lives with, “Hey what about me??” He will sit back and patiently wait for us to return.
“So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for His help.” (Isaiah 30:18 NLT)
While He is patient and faithful to wait for us, He also gives us some pretty stern reminders. In Exodus 34:14, we are told, “…for the Lord, whose very name is Jealous is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you.” (NLT) In Revelations 2:4, He has a bone to pick with us: “You don’t love Me or each other as you did at first…Turn back to me and do the works you did at first.” (NLT) While these are some serious admonitions, it’s not out of punishment, as my friend above had wondered, but out of His desire to show us how much we need connection, communion, and relationship with Him, as if our very lives depended on it. Because honestly, it does.
In His pursuit of connection with us, He is intimately aware of what resonates within our spirit. Deep truly calls unto deep. (Psalm 42:7 NKJV) He knows what can get our attention, even over the incessant chatter of the world around us.
As strange as it may seem, God speaks to me through licence plates. I cannot not read a plate-personalized or otherwise, while I’m in traffic. One day I was driving home from work, just talking to God and casually repenting for a particularly “fleshy” day. I was trying to justify to God why I had been judgemental towards a co-worker. (Dumb move to begin with; you will never win that argument!) At that precise moment, a car drove by with a licence plate that read, “NOEXCUSE”. Come on. Who would have that statement on a vanity plate? In the natural, it made no sense. But God knew exactly what it meant to me, and it wasn’t long before I was repenting in earnest for my earlier behaviour. This was not a one-time experience either. Recently, while driving on the highway on our way to an event, I realized that we hadn’t prayed for protection over my car (my car needs lots of prayer folks!!). My friend and I began to pray for my car, our path, and the other cars on the road. Just then, a slick black Audi pulls ahead in the other lane with the licence plate, “IPROTECU”. These are the kind of conversations that bring confirmation that God is indeed hearing our prayers–soulish and holy alike.
But what about when He really is silent? Staff writer for desiringGod.org , Jon Bloom says deprivation draws out desire. When you’re hungry, you want food. It’s the same with thirst. Only when we feel a true lack, does a sense of desire spring forth. The sound of our own solitary voice echoing in our head is an invitation to come to the well and drink deeply. I’ve come to understand that my ability to hear is only inhibited by my willingness to listen and obey.
When we spend time in the secret place with our Abba, we truly become like the sheep who know our Shepherd’s voice. We learn to discern between His voice and the condemning voice of the enemy of our soul. By thinking about what we’re thinking about, we can sift through the noise and lies, and focus on what is good and true, enjoying sweet communion with the Father as it was intended.
“My ability to hear is only inhibited
by my willingness to listen and obey.”
By the way, my dad really is a good guy. He’s not the distant ogre you may have imagined him to be through my initial description. I now know that the best way to get him to drop the newspaper is to spend quality time with him- oh, and a piece of cake (gifts!) will go a long way as well. Yes, I have since learned his love languages.
Yes and Amen.