Listening for God

A young girl was furiously jamming crayons to her paper, energetically making line and swirls. She grabbed for new colors with only brief seconds of reflection, and filled the sheet with hues and shades.

“What are you drawing?” asked her mom.

“I’m making a picture of God!” she said proudly.

“But nobody knows what God looks like,” her mom replied gently.

“They will when I’m done!” came the emphatic reply.

We don’t know what God looks like. We don’t know how the spiritual essence of God exists or moves or flows around us. We are less than microbes over against what we understand to be God’s immense greatness.

The difference between God and us is so profound that it sometimes makes us question whether there actually is a God: maybe a divine figure of some kind is only a wish or a hope or a projection of our own insecurities. Someone has imagined us like a colony of mice living in the bottom of a huge, old upright piano. The place is dry and strong and safe, and we huddle together for warmth after our forays for food and nest linings.

Now and again we are startled and soothed by music that flows through our world. Sometimes it hammers us with staccato rhythms. Sometimes it causes our hearts to race with majestic passion. Sometimes it lulls us into romance and rest. But whatever the music is, we do not cause it, even though it is part of our world.

Sometimes a brave young mouse among us sneaks and crawls and climbs the dusty passageways that extend over our world. Now and again reports come back to us of complex mechanical systems that shape our home—wires and hammers and gears and levers. When the music comes, these things whirl to life, and jump around with a frenzy that makes the melodies to which we have grown accustomed. While we would like to know how these things happen, we cannot find answers. We believe these are part of the mystery that shelters us. We think, in fact, that the music is somehow the voice of the Creator calling out to us. More than that we cannot say.

One time a fearless explorer among us traced a path further than any previous mouse had gone. We were sure we would never see him again. So when he did return, we gathered around him while he caught his breath and told us of his journey of discovery.

He had actually seen the Creator, he said with wild excitement! The Creator was really nothing more than a big mouse, banging on a part of our world where smooth white rocks formed a pavement. Somehow the music and the strokes of the Creator went together.

Many thought that the mystery had been solved by this brave young scientist. Perhaps there really was no creator. Perhaps we were just smaller versions of another branch of our species too big to fit into our snug corner. Perhaps the music was not a conundrum any longer, but merely the mechanical rattling of familiar things.

And so we continue on here, in our little world, listening to the music that comes and goes. Some of us still think it is the voice of our Creator, singing to us of love or of warning or of passion. Others among us hear only the pounding of hammers and the vibration of strings, and tell us with dispassionate scientific certainty that there is no Creator. We and other beings not that different from us, they say, are masters of our own fate, propagating ourselves in a world we need to make and remake.

How will we know? Is there a truth larger than our experiences? If there is a Creator, will such a being actually be able to connect with us?

The story has its limits, of course. But it does remind us of the problem of our finiteness in a world that seeks and worships the infinity of a great creator God. While our quests for God have rarely fully satisfied us, and certainly have not produced complete agreement about a common religious knowledge among our human race, the Bible keeps pulling us with a great spiritual attraction.

If the connection between us and God cannot be fully linked from our side of the equation, what might God do to enter our arena? How might God speak or make music so that we can hear the divine voice?

Here it is, says the Bible. Listen! What do you hear?

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