Hearing God in the Uneventful (Willard)

As followers of Jesus, we believe that God still speaks. Or, like Francis Schaeffer noted well in the title of a book, He Is There And He Is Not Silent. There are scores of passages in Scripture that talk about listening to God. Jesus’ sheep hear and know his voice (John 10:3). The Holy Spirit speaks and we are called to listen (Heb. 3:7; Rev. 2:7). The Father tells us to listen to his Son (Luke 9:35). And so on. These texts about listening mean: God speaks! By his word and Spirit, the Lord speaks, and it is our duty to listen! He who has ears….

On this topic, I appreciate these words by Dallas Willard in Hearing God:

People who understand and warmly desire to hear God’s voice will want to hear it when life is uneventful just as much as when they are facing trouble or big decisions.

The doleful reality is that very few human beings really do concretely desire to hear what God has to say to them. This is shown by how rarely we listen for his voice when we are not in trouble or when we are not being faced with a decision that we do not know how to handle. People who understand and warmly desire to hear God’s voice will, by contrast, want to hear it when life is uneventful just as much as when they are facing trouble or big decisions.

This is a test that we should all apply to ourselves as we go in search of God’s word: do we seek it only under uncomfortable circumstances? Our answer may reveal that our failure to hear his voice when we want to is due to the fact that we do not in general want to hear it, that we want it only when we think we need it.

Usually, those who want a word from God when they are in trouble cannot find it. Or at least they have no assurance that they have found it. This is, I think, because they do not first and foremost simply want to hear God speaking in their lives in general. At heart they only want to get out of trouble or to make the decisions that will be best for them. I have spoken with many who think of divine communication only as something to help them avoid trouble….

Dallas Willard, Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God (Westmont, IL: IVP Books, 2012), ch. 9.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015