In “Silent God” Joesph Bentz takes on an issue that is oft explored in the Psalms – why it is that God sometimes seems distant and silent? He begins his exploration by looking, not to God, but to us – pointing out that we are seldom good listeners, but instead have lives full of noise, both physical and inner. His observations about cellphones, email, and other technological “noise” hit home for me.
From there, we move to discussions about the possible reasons for God’s silence; that he has a purpose in all he does (or, in this case, doesn’t do). We come away from the book with an appreciation of the power of silence and a realization that God’s silence actually speaks to us and advances us in our journey to Christ-likeness.
I recommend this book as one that will help the seeking reader to go deeper in their relationship with the Lord.
First, I think what I’d call the “broader will” of God is spelled out quite clearly in Scripture. We’re to love one another, seek justice, be compassionate, etc. I like Oswald Chambers’ emphasis on God’s will being that we be more and more like his Son, Jesus.
Second, I think God’s will is sometimes quite specific. Just about anyone in our tradition who is in the ministry is here because we believe we are “called” to this life. That’s way beyond just being like Jesus and pretty specific. One key here believing that God is perfectly capable of communicating to us. His will isn’t hidden or obscured like a riddle we have to untangle. If he wants us to do something he makes it clear to us.
Third, I think God is the God of Second Chances. If we do reject some specific call that doesn’t mean we’re destined to a life of spiritual failure or some kind of second-rate Christianity. I don’t think anything God calls us to is “second best.”
Fourth, if we don’t sense God leading us in some specific way…like when choosing between two different job offers, I think it’s an indication that he’s leaving the decision up to us. After all, this is the God who brought the animals to Adam to see what he would name them….apparently, there was no “right or wrong” name and the Lord was interested in seeing what a creature with free will would decide. Of course, some decisions carry with them moral overtones. In that case, we’re back to the first point. Otherwise, and most of the time in fact, I think we’re free to choose.