I’ve often heard folks who aren’t believers say that if God really wanted to talk to us why doesn’t he just do it? You know, like a loud voice coming from the sky, telling us what we need to do.
I used to wonder about this myself until I had a child. I’ve had this figured out for a while but it wasn’t until my son turned 14 that it really hit me, he doesn’t listen to me. It doesn’t seem to matter if I whisper or yell it’s the same response. He looks at me, shrugs his shoulders and says, “whatever.”
The “whatever” is new as are the broad shoulders, but the active art of not listening is alive and well.
I suspect that to God we aren’t unlike surly 14 year old teenagers, always wanting things to go our way, not listening to our parent’s good advice, and whining a lot more than we should. We expect that our needs will be met, but we don’t have the patience to wait for what we need. We’re hungry NOW, we want that great job NOW, and we want to be happy NOW.
As someone on the receiving end of this treatment, I’ve noticed that I’m not as responsive as I could be. Dinner takes just a little longer to get to the table, that favorite shirt didn’t quite make it into the wash, and, heaven forbid, I forgot to pick up the PowerAde at the grocery store…..oh well!
The fact is that when we are demanding and expecting things to go our way, somehow they just don’t, and if they do, they “kinda” do, there’s always something not quite the way we planned. And, frankly, that’s the problem, we make too many plans, we expect things to just keep rolling along their merry way, forgetting for a while that we aren’t in charge.
We don’t listen, so even if God got into the habit of booming messages from the sky we’d soon learn to ignore them. We’d shrug our shoulders and say “whatever.”
Recently, I’ve been dealing with a series of setbacks regarding my working habits. I’m one of those people who doesn’t do things in half measures. I never read one book at a time, nor can I just sit and watch television. When I have work to do I do it until it’s done, and sometimes that can be a problem.
A few months ago I set out to redo my graphic design website, and committed myself to redoing another website I run with a partner. Of course, as soon as I got started a whole bunch of other work came my way and it wasn’t long before I was on my computer all day and into the night. The fact that this necessitated me neglecting other obligations wasn’t immediately apparent to me. I kept thinking, I’ll finish this and then I’ll have some free time. But the free time didn’t come and the computer began to come between me and my family. Not a good thing.
Now during this time I could have been listening to God telling me to give it a rest. He was there, in my mind, niggling me, but I ignored it, and ignored it, and ignored it some more. I took on more work and spent more time online, and my family life suffered.
I guess that God was tired of niggling at me; he needed to get my attention. So, I got a computer virus that was so bad I had to send away for a set of restore discs. A week off the computer! Then I get it rebooted and up and running and off I went again, ignoring that first warning.
So, then my LCD screen breaks for no apparent reason. Fortunately, I had insurance, but that meant almost three weeks off the computer. When I got it back, I jumped back on as fierce as ever.
Well, God wasn’t through with me yet. Just as I finished my last booked client, I was once again working like a maniac, trying to finish another website. I still wasn’t listening.
So, about a week and a half ago I walked into my house and had a terrifying experience. My eyesight went wild, and I was surrounded by black spots, squiggles, and blurry shapes. I’d just torn my retina.
Of course it was a Saturday night, but I was able to get a hold of my medical group and they arranged emergency surgery on Sunday morning. Turns out that I had a tear in one eye and multiple weak spots in the other so I had to have double laser surgery. No fun, I can tell you, it was like having a brain freeze for several hours that no amount of painkiller could ease. Once again I would be off the computer for most of the week.
But God wasn’t finished with me yet, you see this time he decided that I would get the message. On Monday night I started to feel sick, and by Tuesday morning I was in bed with the flu, and am only now just recovering. At first I was so annoyed! But then I finally got the message. My family and my vision were more important than anything else. He knew I’d try to get back on the computer sooner than my eyes were really ready, and so he laid me out with the flu which kept me in bed resting because I couldn’t do anything else.
When all else failed, he whacked me upside the head.
And then he helped me heal.
So, the next time you feel that niggling that you’re not doing what you should be doing, (or are doing too much of it), take my advice and pay attention.