The Tension in Listening to God

In listening to God, as in so many other areas of life, there is a tension.

On the one hand, God is sovereign. He makes the rules. When we think about listening, attempting to hear Him, attempting to receive the communication He offers, we need to be humble. We need to keep in mind whatever He has said about listening and approaching Him, and obey Him with those things in mind. He is holy, non-contingent, and in some sense, in His essence, wholly other. With Uzzah in mind, there should be a healthy measure of fear and trembling in how we approach the listening.

On the other hand, God wants us to hear Him. In addition to being holy, He is also love. He longs for relationship with us, is always taking efforts to reach out to us, serve us, accommodate us in various ways, starting with the very consistency of the physical universe.

He knows your particular weaknesses (and mine). He often adapts what He wants to communicate to us so we are more likely to receive it. We are not dealing with Someone who is trying to trick us, trying to trip us up, hoping we'll make a mistake so we don't hear Him. The true and living God is always with us. He always wants us to live our lives with the continual acknowledgement of His loving presence, not so we'll be frozen by perfectionism, afraid to choose and act because we might make a mistake. He wants us to live actively and boldly, knowing He is with us, guiding us, cheering us on. Our awareness of His presence should add both peace and confidence to how we see each moment.

We cannot forget that He is God, that He is sovereign. We are not the masters, the ultimate owners, of our own lives. But He is joyful, eager for our active involvement in the world He made, the world He continues to make, the world He continually keeps going. He looks at us with eyes of love, not demanding perfectionism, or critical trickery.

These two poles--holy sovereignty and joyful love--are always in tension, always true, and should shape how we see the world, how we live our lives, and how we continually listen for the comforting, guiding voice of God.