Updated: Sep 30
The Supernatural precedes and supersedes the natural.
The supernatural is natural, and the natural is supernatural.
We live in an enchanted universe. As Elizabeth Barrette Browning wrote in her poem Aurora Lee,
Earth's crammed with heaven
And every common bush afire with God
But only he who see's, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries
Can we see through the created universe to the see the Creator behind it? As the Apostle Paul wrote in his Romans letter,
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness
and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
because what may be know of God is manifest in them,
for God has show it to them.
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen,
being understood by the things that are made,
even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse
- Romans 1:18-20
Notice what Paul says in Romans about how God has clearly revealed his invisible attributes from heaven. He says that they are clearly seen and understood by the things that are made as manifest in people. It's not just a viewing of the external, natural world that reveals God to us. It is a truth manifest within us. We can all look at the same physical universe and see very different things. As Elizabeth Barrette Browning also pointed out, God is everywhere in nature, but only those who see take off their shoes.
It was a common phrase of Jesus to say, "The one who has ears, let him hear," adding to that in John's Revelation, "let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Matthew 11:15, 13:9, Mark 4:9, 4:23, Revelation 2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 2:29, 3:6, 3:13, 3:22, 13:9). Jesus also once said to his disciples, "what I tell you in the darkness, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim on the housetops" (Matthew 10:27).
The voice of God is whispered to us in the darkness of our inner soul and spirit. God illuminates our sight and gives us vision to see the world through supernatural eyes. God is everywhere, and always speaking, but so many don't have the ears to hear, or the eyes to see. Most overlook the burning bush for blackberries.
As a result, we can tend to gravitate towards what can be seen, and what is already known about God through those who could see beyond what we can see. We may lean heavily on scripture, but never learn the process it teaches in order to come to know God for ourselves. We may learn and know the words of God, but never hear to Word of God for ourselves, and therefore not even understand what has already been spoken through what God would speak to us today.
It is a risk to step beyond the known into the unknown.
But it is a bigger risk to follow someone else's knowing of God instead of your own.
One day, God will call you to account for the life you lived. Will you ride everything on the fact that you followed someone else's wisdom about life and God, instead of developing your own? Will that fly with God? I don't think so.
It's good to have the testimony of others who have lived life with God. But the purpose of that great cloud of witnesses is so that you can be inspired and instructed in order to run your own race. The narrow Way of Jesus is a footpath made for two, but only wide enough for one. That's because we are all meant to follow Jesus for ourselves. It's us and Jesus on the individual trails of our lives, because God has a unique path, purpose, and plan for each of us.
What God has for you is not what He has for me. What God had for Job, Noah, Abram, Moses, David, Isaiah, Micah, Malachi, John, Peter, Barnabas, or Paul is not what God has for you. The general parameters of the path are the same for everyone, but the specifics are unique to each of us. We each need to learn how to follow Jesus, so we can each follow Jesus for ourselves. It's not enough to know how Paul or your pastor follows Jesus. You need to know how to follow Jesus for yourself. Then, when you give an account of your life, you can hold all your failures and successes in your own hands, and not have to say, "but that's why they told me to do."
So, the question that should naturally follow is, "how do I learn how to hear God for myself?".
The answer is, what is visible will lead you to what is invisible.
The first time I got the idea that I could learn to hear God for myself was by reading scripture. Scripture is a really good, visible way to learn how to connect with an invisible God, by reading the stories of others who did. The lives of the saints stretch through time and echo one overarching message, that we can learn to know and follow the leading of God as they did. So, read and learn from the lives of the saints. But also learn through your own interactions with God.
Talk to God as if He is there, and you will start to see that He is. Give God the chance to show up. Give God the chance to take the lead. Be willing to wait on what God might do, instead of trying to fix or figure everything out for yourself. Learning to live life with a present, but invisible God takes time. But it also takes an intentional, daily focus. As you move towards God, and make room for Him in your life, you will begin to be more aware of God in your life.
Like a small seed, our awareness of God starts out small as well. As you pray, seek God, and look for Him to answer, you will begin to ask, "was that really God, or just coincidental circumstance?" There will be doubts along the way, as you learn to trust in the reality of God, and as you learn how God shows up and moves in your life. For each of us that can look very different.
God is intimate and particular. He will speak to each of us in ways that fit us, in ways to work for us but may not work for others. In general, God will speak through what we allow. God speaks to me through stars, repeated patterns, numbers, songs, movies, thoughts in my mind, dreams, visions, and other people. The point isn't as much what God is speaking through as it is that I am paying attention, and attuned to how God speaks. In all these varied ways, I have an internal sense that confirms these external messages. Even when God speaks through a thought, it's not like my own thoughts. I've learned to be sensitive to how the Spirit moves and makes certain moments, thoughts, and things stand out.
It's also good to understand what God wants to talk to you about. Mostly, God wants to talk to you about you. I firmly believe God desires each of us to have our own relationship with Him, and not rely on someone else's hearing of God to mediate the relationship. When we can hear what God would say to us, about us, we can start to grow, heal, and become who God desires us to be.
We were meant and made for communion with God. As we come back to that communion, it heals and restores us back to who we really are. That is the point of connecting to an invisible God through what becomes more and more visible to us. Amen!