Originally created 02/24/01

To hear God speak to us, we must listen

Sometimes pets can give us insight into our faith.

Some years ago, my husband and I were given "temporary custody" of our son's cat, Tigger. One morning I heard Tigger's persistent cry coming from a room with two doors. I called several times for her to come to me through the open door. Yet, disregarding my voice and the door already open, she continued to sit stubbornly facing the closed door, pleading for someone to open it.

She wanted her own way. Observing that scene reminded me that people also frequently demand their own way while ignoring the voice of one who has provided another way.

Surveys reveal that a majority of Americans believe there is a God. In reality, many do not believe in a two-way, substantive communication between God and people. The ancient Greek belief in a disinterested god who observes but does not personally interact with mortals is the prevailing view. Yet, countless biblical stories confirm that God speaks to those who listen.

For example, when Moses saw and understood the seemingly impossible, he heard the voice of God calling him and his life took on new purpose and direction. Elijah emerged from the chaos of an earthquake to discover God quietly telling him to move out of a fearful, isolating place.

In Jesus' day, middle-class businessman from Galilee's prosperous fishing industry also were hungry for meaning in their lives. Then they heard a voice with a liberating message.

Jesus claimed that God cares about the mundane as well as the momentous events in our lives, about tired minds and bodies, about those who labor and fail, about those who feel life is unfair at best and empty at worst, about those who succeed and find it isn't enough. He spoke about a persona; a God who can re-energize and empower life changes.

As if to provide an example of his message's truth, the former carpenter persuaded some weary, experienced fisherman to try the ridiculous. After a night of fishing without a catch, he urged them to launch into deep, unpredictable waters. When they followed his advice, they made the catch of a lifetime. It was an experience practical men and women could understand.

Today, the question is not "Does God speak?" Rather, the question continues to be "Are we listening?" Wherever we find ourselves, God's voice can lead us through "doors" already open, liberating and full of supply. Our job is to listen and follow the voice.

Dr. Gloria Jennings is a Presbyterian minister. She is executive director for Presbyterian New Church Development in north Georgia and a parish associate at Covenant Presbyterian Church.


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