I often hear people say that they want a word from God. The problem is not that God isn’t speaking; the problem is a failure to communicate. The communication process requires two parts: send and receive. The website Skills You Need gives the following diagram to explain the communication process:
In 1 Samuel 3:10 we have an example of communication:
“And the Lord came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth” (KJV).
The sender (God) sent a message to Samuel by calling his name out loud. Samuel heard his name being called and responded by saying “Speak; for they servant heareth.” Then God gave a message to Samuel. It seems pretty straightforward, but a lot of things can happen in between sending and receiving.
God chooses to speak in a variety of ways. In the example, He spoke to Samuel in an audible voice. While God doesn’t necessarily speak audibly to us today, He does make himself known through a variety of channels: The Word of God (Bible), The Holy Spirit, and other Christians. For example, last week I was trying to decide what my next step should be in a financial situation when I pulled out my Sunday school lesson to prepare to teach. The lesson was on remembering what God has done in the past and continuing to trust God in situations instead of depending on men. It answered my question, not in as much detail as I would like, but it was a response: Trust Him. God also uses modern media. Just this week I was praying about the same issue and I received an email with a blog post that encouraged me that God was still working on the problem for me.
Remember the “Can you hear me now?” commercial from Verizon? It was all about getting a signal, which is a key to communication. There is an endless supply of things that can attempt to block a message from God. The enemy will try to use distractions, such as a child two rows up fidgeting or making noise through a sermon until you realize that you have no idea what the pastor just said. Another barrier is sin in our lives. Sin hardens our heart and the message can’t penetrate the barrier that we have put up. When we fail to confess sin, it builds a wall that makes communication difficult.
We Listen…or not
If the message makes it through the barrier but our receiver is turned off, then we will miss the message. How many times have you had someone say they tried to call you only to realize your phone battery was dead so you missed the call? Like Samuel, we have to be actively listening for God to speak to us. Otherwise, we might miss the message.
If all of that goes well, what about those times when you are looking for a response and it doesn’t come. It feels like God is ignoring you. Have you ever been waiting for a response to a text only to find out that you had received the answer already in an earlier text but didn’t realize it? Sometimes God does not speak because He is waiting on you to respond to an earlier message. If God has told you to do something, He will not move forward until you are obedient in what He has already told you to do. If a parent says a child can play video games after he cleans his room, then there will be no video games until it is done no matter how much complaining the child does. Is there something God has told you to do that you have refused to be obedient about?
Just like my internet provider always says, before you blame the Provider make sure that all the equipment is turned on and connected properly. God wants to commune with us, but we have to be actively listening and working to keep the lines open on our end. When we do that, the message is sure to come through, often in ways we never imagined. So, keep your eyes and ears (and heart) open for what God has to say.