“The one thing for which we are all being disciplined is to know that God is real. As soon as God becomes real, other people become shadows. Nothing that other saints can do or say can ever perturb the one who is built on God.” Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
In the scheme of things, it was just another day. I had gone to work. After eight hours I got in my car and sailed away. Traveling the four-lane, bored and looking for love in all the wrong radio frequencies, I came across a Chicago radio program.
The station emanating the program is the largest Christian radio station around. How did I know? I attended the school of which campus the station is located. Back in the day I attended the school that housed the station that broadcasts the Bible 24/7.
The afternoon host was pumped. She excitedly promoted her next guest: “He’s a well-schooled PhD theologian – Oxford, I’ll have you know – who had just written a fine book.” I gathered that we earthlings were supposed to take note of this highfalutin academic.
The question compendium, as described by the host, addressed the thousand and one questions people had asked the theologian during his ministry. The talk show host who, unbelievably, had not fallen off her chair from complete exhaustion after highlighting the guest’s CV wanted to delve into some of the “begging-to-be-answered” queries with callers.
David, the first caller: “Hi.” “Hi David, what is your question?” “Well, when God seems silent what do we make of it?” “That is a great question and one that I’m sure most of our listeners have.” I turned the volume up in case divine wisdom would be transmitted to earth via the FM station that broadcasts the Bible 24/7 and is located on the campus of the school that I attended.
After clearing his throat, the PhD’s response went something like… “I have experienced this…my wife and I wanted kids and there was silence in response to our joint prayer requests…we waited… we finally had a child… (then, a 3 point alliterated teaching summation per the school’s standard) … God is not punishing us when He is silent.” Phew! I wiped my brow. I turned off the radio and drove the rest of the way home puzzled and in silence…
You see, I was somewhat put off by the PhD’s answer. It seemed to be a rather thin hidebound response to what the host was calling a deep and universal question. I supposed that, in fairness to the PhD, on-the-clock radio programs are not the best format for the broadest of answers. And I knew that, in fairness to the caller, the Bible school campus which housed the station is a strict Sola Scriptura guardian of the text of the faith once delivered, outside reference points being held suspect until canonized by afternoon radio hosts and guest theologians.
As I thought about the radio conversation, the question that I wanted to ask the caller was “How do you know when God is speaking to you?” (Would it be when things are going just fine and without a hitch and God’s presumed ‘passivity’ is deemed as a silent knowing affirmation?) I wondered what the caller would say. And, is God truly silent? I didn’t think so. That has not been my experience. As a student of the Bible and curious dabbler that I am, I wondered how I could call in one day to 24/7 Bible radio and tell the world what I have witnessed? Thump. Thump. Thump….
I have spent most of my life dealing with Classical Dispensational nuts-and-bolts Theology, a theology which seeks to order the past, present and future and supplies the canned responses of its proponents. Later, thankfully, I realized that there also exists a Quantum Theology, a way of knowing, a new way of looking at things – there is more than meets the eye or ear, for that matter. There, I said it.
To be continued…
But first, a note to encourage curious dabbling: