Are You Listening for Someone Else’s Call?
Have you ever stared at a crucifix, waiting – almost daring – for Jesus to speak to you through the image? Or recalling the story of Elijah, listening intently in a gentle breeze for the voice of God? Ever been disappointed that you haven’t seen the sun dance or been able to walk on water?
Yeah – me neither… er, wait…
I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that most Christians have at one time or another searched for a miraculous encounter with the Divine. I don’t suppose it’s unreasonable for a person of faith to expect the Subject of their faith, Who loves them, to reach out of the Heavens in an undeniable way that may or may not be demonstrable to other people. Yet, how often do we find ourselves the focus of such a unique brand of God’s attention? I’d hazard to say, rarely.
I recently saw a preview for the movie Noah:
While the movie looks like it will be amazing, the takeaway line for me was from Methuselah to Noah, “He speaks to you. You must trust that He speaks in a way that you can understand.” Perhaps some of the more extravagant experiences of God that we’ve heard happening to other people are simply what those people needed at that time in their lives. The difference between Jesus’s calls to Peter and Matthew in Luke 5 are rather telling. First Peter and company:
While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret. He saw two boats there alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that they were in danger of sinking. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.
A miraculous event for a few potential Apostles who probably needed a little convincing to leave a presumably rewarding life. A few verses later, however, Jesus encounters Matthew:
After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him.
One might speculate that Matthew didn’t feel he was leaving much behind and needed as much convincing. In each case, Jesus calls each man in the way they needed to be called and nothing more. It’s easy the fall into thinking that God doesn’t speak to us – that He is somehow dormant – but is that because we’re looking for Him to speak to us in a way He did to another person – or even to us at a different time in our lives? The children at Fatima didn’t continue experiencing apparitions throughout their lives, though it’s perfectly understandable that they might have preferred it. God speaks to you in a way you can understand today. With the obedience that you would follow a miraculous message, also accept the way He is choosing to communicate with you in the present moment.