My Mom and Dad never just give a birthday card: they underline, consider, and try to say what they think God (might) be saying. This year was no different, both putting just what (really!) I needed to hear.
This was most encouraging. God speaks to us through people, but then God speaks in many ways just like any person. I can send a message through a trusted friend, create a work of art, or speak directly.
I try to do what is best.
Unlike any other person, God is omniscient and omnipotent: God knows what to do and has the power to do it. The calculus of what is best in a free will cosmos where every action by any being impacts every other being is very hard and God alone can solve the equation.
God speaks to us, but carefully. He preserves our choice, our ability in this life to choose badly, and also juggles all the implications any divine intervention will have.If God appeared before me in His essence, I would be overwhelmed. I could do nothing, but assent, consent would be lost. God is so good, true, and beautiful that if He would have me choose to love Him, then God must, to an extent, remain hidden. This hiddenness will be different at different places and times in my life, because circumstances change and I change. The amount of divine nudging I can stand on one day is less than on another. God knows and prods for the best.
He has left us Sacred Scripture, but even that is dangerous in our hands. Nothing is so good that we cannot misunderstand. Jesus says to “love our enemies.” That is clear enough, but we have spent centuries trying to miss the point. We also have the sacred history of the church and what God has revealed to us over time. This despite our many errors, heresies, sins, and apostasies. The deposit of faith has remained and teaches us as we kneel together before the altar.
Nature reflects the glory of God and even an atheist can feel wonder when he looks at the stars. The Christian must care for creation and steward what God has given her. We are driven to humility by the scope, beauty, and goodness of the cosmos. You can love the stars without loving God, but only imperfectly. Loving the craft without acknowledging the craftsman is boorish. The God who made the glowing gods of the heavens is worthy of praise: it is good for us.
When we read of God speaking in the Bible, we often over-read. We think that “back then” God behaved differently than God does today: more miracles, more obvious interaction. Interesting times create this error: we take pictures of holidays and curate events while living our lives most of the rest of the time off screen. A foolish person viewing our social media profile would assume we went from Christmas to the Super Bowl to vacation to the other high points of life. Meanwhile, most of our lives are spent in normal time, doing the enjoyable, albeit simple tasks of daily living.
So it is with miracles and spectacular instances of God speaking, These crowd around a few events: the Exodus, Elijah and Elisha, Jesus. Most of history consists of the “still small voice”prodding us correctly. When God speaks, God mostly speaks mind to mind. There is no reason to think that one could have recorded God’s voice on our phones, if we had been there. God was moving in that life not our life.
Over time I have learned, God help me, to sense the prodding of God. Leave. Go. Repent. Look there and not here. Better people than I am have shown even greater sensitivity and so shown me how God speaks, past, present, until in the world to come we see God in the person of Jesus Christ: full of grace and truth.