In today’s blog, I would like for us to address the question, “Why does God not speak to us? Why can’t we hear his voice audibly?”
Well, it’s interesting to note that He has done that. He’s done that in the Old Testament. He did that with His people. And, it’s interesting to see how they responded to it.
Philip Yancey, in his book, Disappointment with God, observed that “God’s open demonstration of power in the Old Testament did not encourage spiritual development.” Isn’t that interesting. “In fact, the Israelites in the desert had no real faith at all. God’s clear presence sucked away their freedom, making every choice that confronted them a matter of obedience and not faith.” As Yancey noted, “God did not play hide and seek with the Israelites. They had every proof of His existence you could ask for.” But astonishingly Yancey says, and I could hardly believe this as I read it, “God’s directness seemed to produce the very opposite of the desired effect. The Israelites responded, not with worship and love, but with fear and open rebellion. God’s visible presence did nothing to improve lasting faith.”
Think about it from another perspective. You are a parent and you are about to drop your child off at college for their freshman year. Imagine right before leaving you inform your child, “I have great news for you! I’m going to college with you. I’m going to be your roommate. I’m going to make sure you go to class. We’ll be together on the weekends. It’s going to be great! And, you will end up having a great college experience because you’ll always do what is right. And, I’m gonna make sure of it.”
If you think about it as a parent, you’d never do that. Even though I know you’d probably like to know what your children are up to you reach a point when you’ve got to let them go. Freedom. You’ve got to give them their freedom because you understand the importance of love and freedom. Without freedom. there would be no relationship with your child. At some point, they would rebel, and they would hate you.
Philip Yancey provides some great understanding on this. He says:
God has chosen to surrender His greatest advantage, the power to compel belief. He’s given that up. He has chosen not to overwhelm us or to enslave us with His mighty and awesome power. He doesn’t force himself on us. And, particularly on those who aren’t willing to follow Him or believe Him. He doesn’t force himself. Instead, what He’s done, He’s offered the world His love and the freedom to accept that love or to reject it.
The best illustration I’ve ever read that provides great insight into this issue is by Søren Kierkegaard, a Danish philosopher. He shares the story of a young King who ruled over this mighty kingdom. He was young. He didn’t have a wife. He didn’t have a queen. And, he has this magnificent palace that overlooks the marketplace. One day as he’s overlooking the marketplace, he sees this beautiful young peasant come walking in, and he’s just taken by her beauty and her kindness and her joy. And, every day he finds himself drawn to the marketplace to see if she’s going to show up. And, one day he comes to the realization that he’s fallen in love with this girl who doesn’t even know he’s watching. And at that point he realizes, “I have an option because of my authority, because of the power I have as the King, I can force her to become my wife and be my queen.” But he also realized that you can’t force love. You can’t make somebody love you. And so he took off his crown. He took off his royal clothes and he dressed as a peasant. And he set out to win her love because he realized that’s the only way true love can exist. It has to be chosen. You’ve got to be drawn to the person you love. And, that’s what Christianity is all about.
And, that’s what Jesus, in fact, has done. He came down and became one of us. And He draws men and women to Himself, not by force, but by love. Because He says, “When I am lifted up on the Cross, that’s how I will draw people to Myself.”
He draws us to Himself out of love and not by force.
I leave you with the words of Blaise Pascal, the great French philosopher and mathematician:
God is there to be discovered by those who truly desire to find Him and remains hidden to those who choose to live without Him.