It is approaching midnight. The freeway is silent apart from the sound of an occasional passing car and the hum of the radio. I press the accelerator down heavily. In spite of my frivolity at dinner, I am not happy. A trail of unfulfilled promises that have piled up like unclaimed baggage in a holding room drag me into a melancholic reverie.
When is God going to deliver? Does he have any idea how slow he is?
Annoyance and frustration simmers as I replay the events of the past few years. Acts of hard obedience. Painful moments of perseverance interspersed with multiple reassurances of reward. But it had been too long. Too much waiting. Too many hopes dashed. And now all I heard was more admonitions to wait patiently and ‘have faith’.
Over and over I rehearse the pain of repeated disappointment. Finally my rambling thoughts explode into a verbal tirade that seems to bounce off the windows and echo through the car.
I yell louder.
“Why aren’t you doing something? What is going on? And don’t you tell me to have faith. Answer me!”
The words hang heavily in the air. I wonder fleetingly if God is offended by my irreverent ranting or if a sanctified lightning bolt was about to put me out of my misery.
A familiar ‘beep beep’ from my mobile phone punctuates the silence. I glance at it incredulously. Who would be texting me so late? I press the Enter key and read the bold lettering shouting back at me; “ONLY BELIEVE, ONLY BELIEVE, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE, ONLY BELIEVE!”
It takes a second or two to register. God sent me a text message?
“Didn’t I say not to go on about faith again?” I yell and fling the phone across the back seat.
Later that week I found out that a friend had been prompted by God at the precise moment I’d called to send me the message I needed to hear.
It was surprising. No, not what he said. That was consistent. Rock-like in his purpose, God wasn’t about to change his mind.
And it was not how he said it really. God can use anything. Burning bushes, animated donkeys, angelic visitations or text messages – they are all tools in his hand. Everything in creation can speak (Psalm 19:1-2).
No, I was mostly surprised because he answered at all. This was not in an angelic moment singing; ‘Holy is the Lord’ in the euphoria of a pumping church meeting. My prayer was offered in the dark gloom of a faithless mood. God spoke in response to the ugly screeching of an impatient daughter whose faith was tearing and stretching like fingernails drawn across a chalkboard.
Perhaps we forget that many of the saints who have gone before us have demonstrated the same openness with God. Think of the rawness of Job’s cries, the spiteful prayers of David and the moaning melodrama of the prophet Jeremiah. Honesty is not a sign of irreverence as much as it is a sign of trust. Vulnerability lies at the heart of intimacy and it is key to hearing God’s voice.
I have only ever received one text message from God. He does not always answer me immediately or in such spectacular ways. But one thing is sure: He is a god who speaks to our deepest needs. Like a passionate lover fervently pursuing an intimate relationship, he longs to open up his heart and whisper secrets to us.
But in order to hear his voice, we need to come to him with vulnerability and honesty, unafraid to share our shameful thoughts and crude emotions. We need to open our hearts to him in faith. And whether it is via a text message or more conventional methods, he promises to answer all those who call on him.
Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. (Jeremiah 33:3)
Ever had an unexpected answer from God? We would love to hear it here!