Sometimes God isn’t answering the questions I’m asking. His silence can at times seem deafening. Is something wrong with me? What if I just can’t hear what he’s saying? Does his silence indicate disapproval?
It’s true that our choices can limit our experience of God’s voice. When we fail to steward well what he has already said we might limit what he says now. To him who has, more will be given. To him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is sometimes the dynamic at work when we experience the silence of God.
But not always.
Sometimes God is silent because we are asking the wrong question. I’ve experienced this most often when seeking direction or guidance. I want to hear God within certain categories. I want him to speak into the category of behavior. What do you want me to do? Or I want him to speak into my circumstances. Where should I work? Where should I live? Where should I go to school? I have found that God definitely does speak into these categories, but they are at times not at the top of his priority list. When I’m asking questions within these categories and getting silence in response, I’ve learned to try switching categories. Identity and Core Beliefs: Father, is there anything you want to tell me/show me today about who you are in my life? About who I am in you?
Changing categories is like tuning the radio dial. Sometimes when we begin seeking God’s revelation in the area of Identity and Core Beliefs it’s like tuning in to the frequency upon which his voice is being transmitted. Once I dial in, it becomes easy to hear. In this case silence didn’t mean that God wasn’t talking, it simply meant that I was asking about something he wasn’t speaking about. I was focused where he wasn’t focused. I was trying to change things that won’t change anything that matters.
Sometimes our questions about behavior and environment are greeted with silence because we have misunderstood the way God desires to relate to us in these matters. We understand that God desires obedience (which is true), and from this we assume that God therefore must want a master/servant relationship with us. He must want a puppet-master/puppet relationship with us. But is this really the case? When God directs us he expects obedience. True. But does God always direct?
This line of thinking leads to a possible redefinition of what it means for us to be made in God’s “image” and to be given “dominion” and commissioned to “subdue” the earth. Once we begin to view our relationship with God through the filter of Genesis 1 & 2, we end up with more of an owner/steward model of relationship than a master/slave model.
Picture the moment when Adam began to name the animals. The Bible says that whatever Adam named them, that was their name. Can you imagine with me if Adam had constantly been asking God what to name them? His question might have been greeted with silence. But what would this silence mean? God doesn’t approve? I’ve done something wrong? I can’t hear God? Not necessarily! God’s silence in this case would have meant something else entirely. Adam, I have given you authority. I have made you in my image. I have commissioned you to take dominion and subdue the earth. You need to do the job I’ve given you to do. More than that, you need to give expression to the man I’ve made you to be.
What is God’s will? Sometimes God wills for us to exercise our will. So don’t misunderstand God’s silence. Adjust your categories. Ask God to speak to you about who he is and who you are in him. Begin to respond by aligning your perceptions of reality in congruence with his presence and voice. If God has opinions about issues of behavior and environment, allow him to speak into those things and be sure to obey him. That’s what stewards do when owners direct. But if the owner is silent, it may be because he expects you to do business with what he’s given you. His will may be for you to exercise your will in keeping with who he is and who you are in him.