by Ronnie McBrayer
Last week my son asked me a profound theological question: “Why did God make stinging bugs?” Stumped, I told him to talk directly to God about it. Pausing for just a moment to consider my inadequate answer, he countered, “You know I can’t talk to God; I’m not even dead yet!” In my son’s literal but complex eight-year-old mind, prayer does not qualify as “talking to God.” Thus, his many and variegated questions about the mysteries of the universe, the meaning of life, and the purpose of wasps and biting flies, will have to wait.
Truth be told, my son’s conclusion about “talking to God,” and more pertinent, God talking to us, is the conclusion most of us have. God doesn’t really talk to people, does he? And those mystical types who routinely say things like, “God spoke to me” or “I heard God say,” are we to take them seriously, or should they be scheduled for a mental health examination?
God gets blamed for a whole lot of the kookiness in this world, but this aside, I still believe God speaks. Now, I don’t believe God’s instructions ever include harming others, doing evil, or committing violence. Such voices are patently inconsistent with the way and person of Christ. And no, I don’t think God’s voice arrives in our inboxes as an unalterable blueprint for life. Besides, if God did speak that clearly (and maybe he does), most of us would miss it anyway (maybe we have), for it seems God prefers communicating through quiet and stillness rather than through the pyrotechnics of signs and wonders.
It’s summed up by Dan Rather’s magnificent interview of Mother Teresa more than twenty years ago. Paraphrasing, he famously asked her, “What do you say to God when you pray?” She offered him a simple answer, “I don’t say anything. I just listen.” Rather then asked the obvious follow-up question: “Well, what does God say?” Mother Teresa gave Rather that crooked little smile of hers and said, “God doesn’t say anything either. He just listens.”
A great deal of religion, I fear, is built upon the desire for divine fireworks, megaphoned and crystal clear answers, God showing himself in flamboyant and undeniable style. Yet, God only requires the quiet and silent heart to quietly speak. Getting quiet will do more to sharpen one’s perception of God than all the religious gymnastics in the world.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author. His books include “Leaving Religion, Following Jesus” and “The Jesus Tribe.” Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.net.