“If I were hungry I would not tell you,
for the world is mine, and all that is in it.”
I truly believe that God speaks to me and others, but I’ve never heard voices, except, of course, metaphorically. When my grandmother got old, she would, on occasion, call my parents in the middle of the night, convinced there were Nazis beneath her bed, German voices. She wasn’t thinking God, of course; she was feeling fear.
Among the throng of Christians I know and respect, some—many, in fact—will refer to God speaking to them as if he were a sidekick. “God told me to take this job. . .” “to write this book. . .” “to just go ahead and write the President. . .” “to attend this conference, and now I know why. . .”
I find that talk a little chummy and more than a little mysterious, but I doubt very little in life. Maybe those good folks do actually hear a reassuring voice, sometimes even authoritative. Still, I wonder what kind of voice they hear—something low and gravelly, a snappy and particularly Jewish George Burns, or maybe the voice of a woman (although most who use that language would not seriously entertain the possibility).
Just one of the stubborn paradoxes of the Christian faith is God’s illimitable character—is he “afar off,” a transcendent God who watches us like some heavenly forest ranger atop some tower or NORAD missile defense? Or is he imminent, right here beside us, over my shoulder, as personal as a valet, as intimate as a spouse?
Well, He’s both, of course—hence the paradox. We pray to him as an intimate, but with the full knowledge that millions of others are sharing his ear at the very same moment. He’s God. We aren’t. He is both a teddy bear and the Secretary General of the Cosmos.
In the continuum which exists between those two poles, I’ll admit to seeing him more easily as expansive, the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. Well, sort of. He isn’t exactly way out there somewhere. He’s here too. He is right beside me; and, as I’ve admitted, I think he speaks—in the voices of my friends and enemies, in the skies, in the broad land, in worship, as well as in these very moments, when the words appear across this bright screen as my fingers tap dance across the keyboard. The words are mine, but I honestly think he’s here, even in these words. It’s impossible to explain, as faith is.
I do believe that we know him best in the Word made Flesh, in the incarnation, in the coming of his son, his presence among us, his death, and resurrection. Through Jesus Christ, we know God’s love—and that’s likely all we really need to know.
Seems to me that this line from verse 50 is very strange: “If I were hungry, I would not tell you. . .” It’s so incredibly human that it’s hard for me to believe God almighty would ever think such a thing, much less say it. Besides, there’s even a hint of deception—“I wouldn’t tell you.” Sounds almost childish.
If this line is actually his and not just the humanly imagined vision of the earthling who wrote them, then it honestly makes me giggle. I’d never before considered how strange it must be to the Eternal One to have find clear and vivid ways to speak to creatures as such as ourselves, given the astounding handicap of our humanness.
It may be impossible for us to consider the God of the Universe, but consider his own troubles—he has to talk to the likes of us.
But he does. I swear it.