Why doesn’t God Shout?
People shout when they need to get our attention. They shout when we are alone because they are angry; they shout when we are in a very loud bar; or they shout when there is a crowd between us, or they are across a race track…or something like that.
Do we really hear them when they shout? More importantly do we understand them? And, in the case of someone shouting at us in anger when we are alone with them, do we really pay attention?
No, we do not.
God shouting would defeat His purpose of being heard. His neon sign would be lost amongst all the others. His shout, in anger or love, would cause us to cringe before Him and agree with whatever He said just to get Him to stop – and hope He did not follow through since we have no idea what we agreed to. We might hear Him across a crowded room, or in the booth at the bar, but not understand Him yet smile and nod like we do and hope He wasn’t asking a question so we do not get that weird look and quizzical pause we get from the friend at the bar who is waiting for us to answer the question.
So, really, the question is not “Why doesn’t God shout?” The question is, “Why does God whisper?”
And, after three successive whispers to me yesterday, I understood the answer to that question.
Yesterday I walked into the Barnes & Noble and was perusing the shelves of blank journals next to a man a few years younger than I doing the same thing. Eventually I said to him that I thought it was funny how we were spending so much time trying to find a book we could spend a lot of money on that had no words in it. He laughed and said that he had never had a journal before, so I suggested he just get a wire bound notebook to start, just to see if he sticks with it before investing $30 to $50 on something he might not use. Then he says, “Well, I’ll use it. I just found out I have two years to live.”
We talked for another five minutes or so about end of life issues and what a man in particular feels or expects, especially with a wife and kids. He is 36 and has children, and wants to pass on advice as well as let them see what he is going through these next two years. His name is Manuel, and I know if you are a Man, you will do what is right for him:
I told him I would pray for him at Mass in an hour, which I did, and I will keep him in my intentions in an ongoing manner.
When I got to the car, I remembered a video I had watched on facebook earlier that day:
And then I asked God why He doesn’t shout. And in a whisper, He answered for the third time that day…
When God whispers, we listen. If you were at a crowded sporting event and your buddy leans close to your ear, you automatically focus on what they are saying. You do the same in a crowded bar. When we were kids at a birthday party and our parents held onto our hand, leaned down to our ear, and whispered that if we did not straighten up we would be in big trouble – all after spending the last ten minute shouting at us to get our attention – we finally listened, right?
Of course we did; that’s why we do it with our own children – we know it works!
God ain’t a dummy. If He came at us thrashing around like our mates at a football pitch, he would make as much sense, and as much impact, as they do. And how much do we remember that our friends said while watching ball and swilling beer?
That’s what I thought.
So God whispers.
He will walk across the race track, the crowded room, or the choir-filled church just to lay a profound wet-willy on our ear…if we are willing to listen.
Nobody gets to whisper in our ear unless we let them, right? So we need to let God whisper.
Part of that is doing what my spiritual director Father Albert Haase teaches us to do by practicing the Examen of Ignatius; it’s getting you enrolled in what Matthew Kelley calls “The University of Silence.” It’s all about quieting down, preparing ourself and our environment, so that we can hear that whisper.
God wants to shout, but He knows we won’t hear him, and if we do we won’t understand Him; we will probably just smile and nod and hope He wasn’t asking us a question.
But if He whispers, He knows that all we have to do is listen, and we will hear him.
God is whispering to us right now. It is louder than any shout we have ever heard.
Are we listening?