Five Minutes with God
Why doesn’t God speak to us audibly?
Moses’s encounter with God at the burning bush is one of my most favorite Bible stories. I love how God’s presence is impossible to miss or dismiss. Today, God's still quiet voice is too easily drowned out no matter how hard I strain to listen. At the flaming bush, I also love how clear and immediate God’s direction is–go and lead my people out of Egypt. There is none of the waiting that precedes–or constitutes–my faith tests. But the thing I love most about the burning bush encounter is that it is, in essence, a fireside chat. Moses and God were chatting. God was there, on call, in the “flesh.” How great would that be?
Suspend your disbelief for a moment. What would you do with five minutes to talk to God and audibly hear his response? My first instinct would be to monopolize the conversation with my complaints and questions, leaving little time for God to chime in. There’s so much I want to know, so much I have to say! I hardly expect God to reveal the secrets of the universe, but I would probably try to coax them out of him. I imagine he would be coy, and I would squander my five minutes without learning much. So, on second thought, maybe I would mostly listen. I’d ask a pressing question like "What am I supposed to do with my life?" and wait for his answer. Ephesians 2:10 says that God has a plan for me–for all of us–but what is it? I hope God would confirm my calling and give me ammunition against the naysayers. Afterwards, I’d be pumped and focused, ready to take on the doubters and fearmongers. Sounds like a brilliant idea, right? So why hasn’t God already made it happen?
Maybe God knows that what we do with the knowledge we have is more important than acquiring more. Take Moses, for example. Despite the visible and audible evidence of God’s power, Moses doubted God's plan. After proffering a few obstacles that God easily trumped, Moses revealed what was really holding him back–his own fears, anxieties, and agenda. At the end of the day, Moses just didn’t want to go. Knowing God's plan and power doesn't erase our fear and resistance. A five minute chat, however spectacular the fireworks, may not give me the courage to act on what I know.
So, if God is trying to nudge me forward, he would pick another way. Rather than impart more knowledge, God would grow my faith. Consider Abraham. He knew his calling was to be the father of many nations, but he needed faith to carry him through the years of waiting for his promised son. Consider Jonah. Clear–perhaps even audible–Godly direction didn’t stop Jonah from hightailing it in the opposite direction of where he was supposed to go. What he needed in that moment, what I need in my trying moments, is confidence and faith in God–not more information.
These Biblical encounters remind me that faith trumps knowledge. No wonder the former pleases God more than the latter! Though a burning bush conversation is likely not in my future, I can still talk to God whenever I want (messaging and data rates do not apply). While prayer may not reveal God’s plan as fast as I would like, waiting builds the trust I need to actually do what he tells me. Guess God already knew that.
Artwork credit: Burning Bush (The Call) by Marguerite J. Anglin, Copyright 2014
“..And behold, the bush burned with fire, and…was not consumed. God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I..” (paraphrase of Exodus 3:2-4).