In The Beginning There Was Nonsense
by Senator Brett
Yeah, I said it. I’ll say it again. Fiat lux. I bet that you don’t know what that means. Well I do, as should you. (Well, okay, let’s be honest, I had to look it up. Okay, let’s be really honest, if it wasn’t for Google there is no way that I would know half the stuff that I pretend to know because I would spend the vast majority of my “research” time playing Madden.)
“Fiat lux” are supposedly the first words ever spoken in our world. Ever. As in, ever EVER.
The truth is that you do know these words, you just know them as, “Let there be light!”. Then there was light, or so the story goes.
The creation of our universe is a contested theory by a great many people and a great many religions, and I’m not going to touch on it now, other than to say that I, like you, have an opinion on the matter. We can discuss our theories later. For now, I want to focus on what those supposed words meant to our life, and how I so often feel so inept at hearing God.
When I read the story of creation in the Bible I am always torn. This is not only because I challenge the science behind it, or due to the fact that I find it an extremely lazy excuse for our lack of scientific knowledge. It is because I always wonder, “If the Great Nothingness could hear the voice of God, then why the hell can’t I?!” Is there something wrong with me? Am I that far gone that even non-matter can hear the voice of God better than I ever could hope to imagine?!
This has been an almost life-long question for me. Perhaps it wasn’t always in the same form, but I can still remember as a child being told that God speaks to us and wondering why I never heard Him when I prayed. As I got older I was led to believe that God’s voice isn’t usually an audible thing, but rather an inner feeling where peace follows; however, as I become more experienced in life, and after seeing so many people in so many churches with their own versions of how they hear God, well, I’m still confused because a lot of it still doesn’t make sense to me.
I know for a fact that I am not the only one that struggles with hearing the voice of God. As a matter of fact, I would wager that the majority of Christians, wait, let’s back up a little… the majority of people of all faiths that believe that there is a two-way communication with the Almighty, struggle with their ability to hear God’s voice. History has shown us that we, as a human species, have sought after God, in one way or another, since the dawn of time. History has shown us so many fine examples of how far off we oftentimes are in our pursuit of God. Wars have been waged, peoples have been enslaved, enemies have been murdered and kingdoms have risen and fallen all due to someone’s supposed hearing of the voice of the Divine.
And, while some of those examples might all be a little on the extreme side of things, most of us, in some form or fashion, search for God’s voice in so many of our life decisions, big and small. I would bet the farm that most of us rarely feel as if we’ve had a clear concise word from God. If you do, congratulations, but I think I speak with the majority of us when I say that I rarely, if ever, have felt as if God had spoken directly to me and that I have heard Him in a manner that was beyond question or contestation.
Knowing how hard it is to hear God’s voice I find that I am always a little suspect of people who say that they hear the voice of God on a regular basis. Maybe it’s my lack of faith that keeps me from hearing His voice, maybe it’s the lack of time that I spend invested in the search, or maybe it is that He just doesn’t feel the need to bother Himself with such trivial things like my life. I don’t know. All I do know is that in all my questioning, in all my times of searching, I don’t think if I’ve ever had a time when I felt that God was saying, “Mark, go do this,” or “Mark, I want you to know…” It’s never been that way. Never.
When we read the Bible it illustrates so many times that people heard clear words from above. According to the Scriptures, God spoke to Abraham many times, and Abraham was so familiar with God’s voice that by the time God asked him to sacrifice his own son he proceeded to do so until God spoke to him, yet again, and stopped him from committing sacrifice. (Which, by the way, I still think is a pretty shitty test of Abraham’s faith, but, again I am not God. I just play one on my podcast!). Abraham was so sure of his ability to distinguish God’s voice that he was willing to kill his offspring, the son whom he dearly loved, and yet, I can’t be sure if God wants me to write this book, or if He wants me to write a book about the official rules of calling “shotgun” for the passenger seat!
Then there is Moses and his burning foliage. The Bible says that God spoke to Moses from a plant, a plant! I repeat, a plant! Don’t get me wrong, there have been times in my life that I had thought that God was speaking to me through a plant, but then I later realized that God isn’t likely to send His message through the weed merchandise of “T-Bone”, the guy I know who legally installs car audio equipment and who sometimes, illegally, takes it out. Also, I’m doubtful that God speaks from out of a bong. But, then again I’m not God. So, who knows?
In all seriousness, I have been to church. I have sought out the altar. I have walked the beaches, have lay quietly in bed, have pleaded, and yes, even begged and cried to hear God’s voice, and nothing has come from it. God spoke to Moses several times, from his childhood all the way until his death. God spoke to Moses on things like: where he should live, who his people were, to whom he should marry, what to do with his rod (not the same thing as the marriage thing!), where to travel (Do you think Moses ever considered marketing t-shirts that said, “I survived the crossing of the Red Sea and all I got was this lousy t-shirt!” and “Gulf of Aqaba Swim Team”) and then, finally, where Moses would die. God spoke to him about all those things, and yet in my thirty-nine years I cannot be sure if I’ve ever truly heard the voice of God.
The Bible is littered with people who heard the voice of God. So, why can’t I? But, more importantly, why can’t we seem to, as a church, hear the voice of God? It seems as if the church, as a whole, struggles with this issue more often than not.
Non Sua Voce Dei
Translation: The voice of God is not your own.
While writing this book this thought came to me as I lay in bed one night, as I was struggling to come up with one sentence that succinctly described exactly how I feel about what I’ve seen pass as “hearing God’s voice.” After all that I have experienced, after all the church services that I have sat in, all the revivals and conferences, the scriptures read, and the church people –both good and bad- that I’ve seen… after all of that… this one thing remains: The voice of God is not your own.
I say that to say this. STOP the bullshit!
Yes, you read that correctly, stop the bullshit!
Look, I fully believe that God speaks to people, even in these times, but please, people, stop substituting your words, motives and desires for His will. Trust me, this happens all the time, in all sorts of churches, and in all sorts of religions.
Case in point: Over the course of my life I have visited many churches, and even called a few my “home” church. Now, of these churches, I have yet to find one where someone, somewhere along the way, didn’t say the following words, “Today, the Lord is saying blah, blah, blah.” Oftentimes, this person is the pastor, and if it is not the pastor it is usually a deacon or “elder”, and then if it’s not anyone in authority it’s usually someone who wants to be an authority in the church. I’ve seen, and heard, it so many times that I can’t even begin to count, and it’s usually something pretty good. God is going to bring revival to our land. Someone in the audience is sick, or has an injury, and God is going to heal them. Sister So&So is going to move to Europe and become a missionary. Someone has an addiction to some vice, and God is going to deliver them. (I usually assume that this person they are talking about is me, and it probably was/is! And, I keep waiting on the latter half of that prophecy!) God is going to bring in more money so that we can build a bigger church, and the list goes on and on and on.
Seriously, don’t get me wrong. Yes, God does speak to people, and even delivers messages to churches and groups of people gathered in His name. He does. However, having said that, I do have the following questions:
If God speaks to our churches so often then why are we so discombobulated as a group? You would think that God would give us instructions on how to better represent Himself to the world.
Why is it that God’s “supposedly direct” words are so general in small groups, but yet so specific in large auditoriums? For example: In a small group God comes in and says that someone who is suffering from an ailment of some kind, be it physical or psychological, will be healed, and yet, in a large auditorium, God comes along and says that someone who has a heart problem, of any sort, will be restored to full health. Sorry, but I’m calling “bullshit” on most of those occasions. That’s not necessarily God, that could be just statistically-sound guesses.
Why is it that God is seldom, if ever, just blunt honest with bad news? When people are praying for the sick, or ministering up at the altar, I’ve never heard anyone say, “The Lord has told me that you are going to die a slow and painful death from this cancer.” No, you never hear that, at all. What you do hear is, “The Lord has told me that His will is being done,” or “The Lord has told me that your faith will heal you, if you just have faith in Him.” Come on, let’s be honest, 99 out of a 100 times that is just utter BS. It is simply a way for the person praying to feel better about themselves or their day, or their attempt to make the person being prayed for feel some sense of peace. Yes, it’s all good intentions, and yes, it’s very nice, but still, it’s not necessarily God.
And, one last question…
In my life I have been involved, or semi-involved, in several churches, and in each and every one there has been many, MANY times that someone has said that God has delivered a word for the congregation, or for an individual in the church. While I am sure that there are a few times where this was an actual honest event and that God did speak, I am left wondering about God’s priorities.
I know people who are convinced that God comes into their churches and speaks to them and tells them about plans for their life, and they truly believe that God is speaking to them, or through them. They believe that God comes in on a Sunday and delivers these messages so that they will know how to live their life, how to plan for the future, how to exist as a person and as a Christian. They believe this with all their heart and mind. And, trust me, I can see the value in that sort of thinking.
However, there are members of various churches that I have been a part of, or was involved with in some manner, where someone in authority was molesting young children, sometimes their own and sometimes children that belonged to members of the congregation. Yet in all the times that God came in on a bright and wonderful Sunday morning, after His presence filled the room from the praise and worship offered up to Him, after all that, He never once spoke to anyone and said, “Hey, you need to know what is going on, and you need to put a stop to it now!”? God only delivers good news? He only sees the future good for the congregation, but doesn’t want to make mention of what is happening in the present in a church that uses His name?
That doesn’t make logical sense to me.
This is not a vendetta. This isn’t some point I am trying to make because of my past experiences with the subject matter. It is a sincere question.
Am I the only one that believes that if God were truly present, if God were truly involved in speaking His word to a group of people or to a person, He would probably say something about what was happening to the children, His children?
I believe He would, and by believing this, it makes me wonder how much of God’s voice the people who claim to hear it are actually hearing, or are the people who claim to hear God’s voice mostly just substituting their own wishes for that of the voice of the Almighty?
For your consideration, in thousands of churches on every Sunday, and sometimes on Wednesday nights, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people who speak out and say that they have a message from the Lord, that they’ve clearly heard His voice. To those people I say, be wary of your own ambition and be careful that your desires don’t muddle the words of God. Everyone, no matter who you are, should be very VERY careful when you purport that you speak for God. I think it says a little something about that in the Bible. I also think the Bible makes mention of God smiting people for misrepresenting Him. I could be wrong… it’s been a long time since my mom taught me in Sunday School using a flannel board and cut-out Biblical figures.
One last thing: The beginning to ending our loose assumptions of God’s words begins at the pulpit. Period.
Once we finally start weeding out our words from that of God’s, then maybe, just maybe, we, as a church, can finally stand up for ourselves and say, “Fiat lux… let there be light!”
Then there will truly be light. And, that light can truly change the world.