Most of us have heard the story of the drowning man who prayed to God for assistance. After being offered help in three different ways by three different people, the man died because of his insistence on waiting for God to save him. Upon arriving to heaven, God informed him that the three people were sent as an answer to his prayers. The man was a victim of his own presuppositions; because divine intervention showed up in a way that contradicted his assumptions and expectations, he dismissed it as just another everyday occurrence.
In the Bible, the story is told of God calling the prophet Samuel by name. Immediately after hearing the voice of God, Samuel ran to his mentor, Eli, and asked him if it was he who called him. This happened twice. Samuel, the prophet, completely missed the voice of God because, whatever God’s voice must have sounded like, it was possible to mistake it for just another familiar sound.
As a kid, growing up in church, I frequently asked “why doesn’t God speak to us today as he did to the people in Bible stories?”
I never realized the false assumption my question was based on: that if God spoke to someone, it would be so obvious that it would be impossible for anyone to miss.
Since I always imagined the voice of God as a loud thunderous sound emanating from the sky, it seemed pretty reasonable for me to assume that I would know with absolute certainty whether God was speaking to me or not.
Here’s today’s two cents:
Our assumptions and expectations play a major role in the way we interpret the things we hear.
That which is spectacular can easily be mistaken for that which is insignificant and that which is Divine can easily be mistaken for that which is familiar.
The divine guidance you and I need, may very well be speaking to us at all times. But because it speaks to us in a tone that we don’t expect, it shows up on our radar as silence, background noise, just another song on the radio, meaningless mumbo jumbo from strangers, friends just saying what they’re “supposed” to say, our own “silly” thoughts, or something else that we feel no need to take seriously.
Our ability to recognize the divine element in our experiences, requires us to be open to ideas and possibilities that may threaten many of our cherished, but limiting, fantasies regarding what it must be like to encounter God.
We must strive to approach each moment with reverence, knowing that the God who dwells beyond any of our ideas about God, may break through the interference created by our beliefs and speak to us in ways that belong uniquely to our individual journeys.