Ever have a conversation that wasn’t?
I mean, the person with whom you were “conversing” kept blathering on without pause for breath and you couldn’t find an opening anywhere for a word of your own?
Or, no matter how you tried to evoke genuine response from the other party, all you could get were absent-minded grunts and one-word answers like “Mmm…,” “Uh-huh”…
Or, all through the “conversation,” (s)he kept looking anywhere but at you, maybe even interrupting, suddenly pointing a finger toward a window or elsewhere, exclaiming, “Look at that!” or some other totally off-the-subject remark…
…so that you finally just gave up and went silent yourself?
We do those kinds of things to God, don’t we?
So often we either just run at the mouth in prayer, paying no attention to what He might be saying to us, or we don’t interact with Him honestly, openly. Sometimes, to be honest, maybe we don’t even care what He has to say about an issue at all…
This kind of non-communication stifles closeness in any relationship — with people, or with God.
If my aim is really to grow CLOSER to my Lord, to interact and walk more intimately with Him, I need to both be honest and tune myself in to Him. I need to look at Him instead of my own mental mirror. I need to listen closely for His voice, strive to “get” exactly what He’s saying, hear it with my heart.
I think that’s what James was referring to when he wrote, “Be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to get angry” (Jas 1:19). Because if you consider the context...
It goes back to verse 5: “If any of you lacks wisdom let him ask of God…,” followed by verses telling us to expect an answer. [CORRECTION: the text tells us to expect to receive wisdom, not necessarily a specific answer to a specific question we’ve asked.]
Then, following 1:19, it says to receive with meekness the implanted word which is able to save us. Well, that’s God’s word, God’s speaking.
A call to God becomes a conversation by not just jabbering after we call to Him, but also listening to what He says to us.
Those men and women who lived good examples in this closer walk with God (lots of them) speak of ongoing “conversation” with God, and by it they mean just that, two-way interaction.
I am remembering George Mueller’s account of one of his usual walks, literally with God, heading to a certain destination, and conversing with God all the way, not just talking at Him, but seeking His counsel as he went.
Repeatedly Brother Lawrence used the term “conversation,” and what made his countenance so glowing wasn’t his own words, but his awareness of God’s presence in the conversation. That of Christ flowed out into and through Him. He was a ready recipient.
In the Bible, both Elijah and Job (for example) expected an answer from God, eventually, and both received one. [CORRECTION: Each received a reply. We don’t know if Job ever in his earthly life did get the answer as to why he suffered so.]
God answered Elijah in a “still small voice.” We don’t know how Job received God’s reply. How do we discern what He has to say to us?
I’m still working this out! But I’ve learned a few things, from scripture, from examples in Bible characters and godly people of more recent times. (Particularly helpful is George Mueller, who even wrote guidelines for determining God’s direction in any situation.)
More about this later. But for now, we know God speaks to us in His everlasting word. So when we “converse,” let’s look not only to but at Him, and at His word. Let us listen to what He says.