One of life’s great frustrations is that God doesn’t usually tend to answer prayers vocally, or with large billboard signs.
Why is it so hard to hear God? Or to see Him present in our lives? If He loves us so much, why doesn’t He make it easier?
These are tough questions, and they’re questions that I think all of us have, to some extent, wrestled with. That said, the answer to them hinges on something far more critical – not only to our own faith journeys, but to all of salvation history – than what we may at first perceive. A certain quote from C. S. Lewis sums up the issue:
“Perhaps we do not fully realize the problem, so to call it, of enabling finite free wills to co-exist with Omnipotence. It seems to involve at every moment almost a sort of divine abdication.” (1)
A while back, I wrote a couple posts about why it may be so difficult for us to see God (here: http://naomitoms.com/post23jun2014.html and here: http://naomitoms.com/post30jun2014.html ). One of the main premises, borrowed from Jennifer Fulwiler, was that God isn’t invisible. But He is ignorable. He’s ignorable, so that we can still make a free choice for Him or against Him. He’s ignorable so that we don’t become compelled to obey Him and glorify Him out of an overwhelming experience of His presence, His glory, His goodness or truth.
Free will is a fragile thing. But apparently, God thinks it’s of inestimable value. He thinks it’s worth so much, respects it so much, that He would rather allow for the possibility of a Fall, a need for Redemption, even the death of His divine Son, rather than compromise in the slightest on free will.
Here, then, is our real situation – much as we may complain about it, as a teenager may complain about some wise but frustrating decision made by his or her parent. No, God may not answer our questions about discernment by telling us exactly what to do. If He did, we would have nothing to do but to carry it out, doing nothing more or less than robotically receiving instructions.
Instead, stubborn as we are, and as short as our attention spans may be, He asks us to listen. To freely conform our whole hearts to Him. To choose Him at every moment, as He abdicates His power to choose for us at every moment. To see Him in every situation and person, and to pay attention to how He speaks to us in every moment of our lives, rather than just at those times when we want to be told what to do.
Don’t just ask Him to make your decisions. And especially, don’t just ask for the sake of shifting the responsibility.
Instead, allow Him to change you.
And then, after being faithful to Him first, and after persevering in faithfulness, you may look back and realize that your questions were answered all along the way.
(1) Lewis, C. S. The World’s Last Night and Other Essays, (Orlando, Florida: Harcourt Inc., 1987), p. 9