Have you ever listened to someone’s story of faith and wondered “why doesn’t God work like that in my life?” More specifically, have you ever heard one of these faith giants recall a time when God “spoke” to them and wondered “why don’t I hear from God like that? If God speaks to people like that and I’m not hearing him, is my faith not deep enough or am I really a Christian?
If that’s you, I want to encourage you to take a page from Noah. After all, he was found to be the only righteous man on earth at one time. Surely he has the market cornered on what God is saying to him right? If he needed to know something, he’d just ask and God would open the heavens and in a booming voice deliver the message right?
True there was a time when God seemed to speak directly to Noah…
Then the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation. (Gen. 7:1)
However, we aren’t told how this message was delivered. Was it a voice booming and loud or still and small. At the risk of challenging the specific words, I would ask was it a voice at all? What if God gave Noah this message not through audible words but simply the spirit confirming something to Noah in some intangible way?
The reason I ask is that we spend so much time focusing on Noah’s faithfulness before the flood that we might miss how he discerns things after.
The first question he has is, “when am I supposed to get off this boat? I was told when to get on, but when is it time to leave?” Apparently the one window in the ark could not see the land and this was going to be a big discernment issue. Open the door too early and he could sink the boat.
So what does he do? He sends out a bird and it comes back with nothing. He sends out a bird again. Again it comes back with nothing. All the while praying. All the while saying “God I’ll do what seems to make sense to me and when you give me a peace about moving in a certain direction, I’ll know that it’s you and move.”
He sends out a bird again, and it comes back with a olive branch. Notice this…that would seem to signify to me that the litmus test for dry land has passed with flying colors. But he waits. Noah has experience in the discernment department and knew before the prophet Isaiah wrote about it that “those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.”
A fourth time he sends out a bird. It does not return. Noah meditates on this and finds that peace welling up in his heart. He recognizes that peace…it’s the same Spirit that brought him this far.
Perhaps that is all a bit of speculation into the nuances of what happened but the larger facts remain. God speaks to us in different ways. For many of us, including myself, it has never been an audible voice but that has not lessened its impact. I have learned to recognize the voice of my shepherd through experience with Him.
I encourage you, if you are facing any decision, pray without ceasing, do what you have a peace about, don’t do what you are hesitant about, and wait for God to speak.