Imagine yourself in a wide open field. You have no clothes. You have no food. The green grass and the trees swaying in the wind are an ocean of chlorophyll, lapping at your toes. The expanse above you is a broad blue face covered with scudding clouds. You look at your feet, your hands, your legs. What are you supposed to do with them?
You turn to take in your surroundings. And while you feel at peace with everything around you, as if you’re a puzzle piece perfectly fit in a moving jigsaw, you don’t know what to do next.
What do you need?
You need a voice. You need direction. You need assurance and a gravity-giving purpose. You need someone to say something. Without a higher voice, you have no next step. Everything you might do would only be aimless wandering. You need a voice to tell you who you are. You need a voice to tell you why you’re here. You need a voice to tell you where you’re going. Identity, purpose, and destiny—these things come only if God has spoken.
This all sounds up-in-the-clouds, doesn’t it? Great things have a way of spreading out in our minds. They go so broad that we don’t see them anymore. We forget about them and focus on what we can see and hear and touch: the mosquito pinging the rain-stained glass door, the house wren with a tiny worm in its beak on the back porch, the orange dawn-light staring at you through the trees, the taste of black coffee.
But it’s not up in the clouds. That divine voice—the one that tells you who you are, why you’re here, and where you’re going—is also responsible for the beating wings of that confused mosquito, and for the worm’s movements in the sparrow’s beak, and for the hollow bones that help him fly. That voice is responsible for the light and the trees. It speaks through the things right in front of you. “Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard” (Ps. 19:2–3).
I have a hearing problem. Maybe you do, too. I don’t seem to hear the divine voice, even when I read the Bible. I seem to think that the words on the page are just symbols, black markings on a white canvas . . . dry bones of life—beautiful, but ossified. How can I wake them up?
I can’t. That’s not my ability, because only the Spirit of God who wrote them can wake them for me, can unclog my ears so that I hear the words as living and active (Heb. 4:12). So, each morning I ask him to help me with my hearing problem. I ask him because I need to know who I am, and nothing out there in the wild world is going to tell me that. I ask him because I need to know why I’m here, and no ambition or motivation can satisfy my soul’s query. I ask him because I need to know where I’m going, and nothing around me can tell me where I’m headed. “Spirit, open my ears. I want to hear you.”
All the questions we have in life—all the wonderings and wanderings, the aspirations and muscle movements, the words and the work—come down to this: the speech of God.. Say that phrase out loud. It sounds abstract, doesn’t it? But the way something sounds has everything to do with the one who’s hearing. You and I have a hearing problem, remember? The speech of God isn’t abstract. It’s more concrete than your fingerprints or pulse. It drives everything. It defines everything. It upholds everything (Heb. 1:3). The speech of God isn’t just living and active; it’s life-giving. It affects everything. And it’s more real than we can fathom.
If God has spoken, then you know who you are, even if you feel exposed and lost in an open field. If God has spoken, then you know why you’re here, even if you feel like a spiritual nomad. If God has spoken, you know where you’re going, even when it seems the future is behind an infinite wall. If God has spoken, that changes everything.
And he has.
My name is Pierce Taylor Hibbs, and I have a hearing problem. God has been working on my ears for some decades now. I hear more than I used to, though I still strain to pick up the Spirit’s sibilants and link them to words, the way I tried to do on our seven-hour car trips to Massachsettes, when I heard my parents muttering in the minivan as I tried to sleep. I have a hearing problem. But God has worked on my ears long enough for me to know that he has spoken, that he still speaks. And knowing just that much is enough to change my heart, my perceptions, my actions . . . and maybe even the whole world.
If God has spoken, we’re not alone. If God has spoken, we’re not lost anymore. If God has spoken, we live out of a divine relationship, into a divine relationship. If God has spoken, then our deepest questions have answers. And we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28) so that we can chase after them with remedied hearing.
- Pierce Taylor Hibbs, The Speaking Trinity & His Worded World
- Vern Poythress, Reading the Word of God in the Presence of God
- Peter Lillback (ed.), Seeing Christ in All of Scripture