The other day when I got into my office I noticed the red message light on my office phone was blinking. As I looked at it, it took me a moment to remember how to retrieve the message. The reason it took a couple of moments was that it had been a few weeks since someone had left me a message on my office phone. Now I receive lots and lots of emails, texts, and messages on my cell phone but it had been a while since someone had actually left me a message on my office phone.
As I thought about this, it led me on a trip down memory lane. When I was grade school, we had one phone in our house. In high school we added an extension phone for the upstairs. This continued while I was in college. Later in the seminary, four of us got together and paid for a phone that we located at the end of the hall so we could all use it.
It wasn’t until my first assignment that I actually had a phone of my own in my office. Even then there was no way to leave a message. The parish secretary used the infamous “pink message slips” when someone called and we weren’t there. In my second assignment, the parish had upgraded to an answering machine so that people could leave a message if they called after hours. Eventually computers and email became common place, and I had to learn to communicate using them. It wasn’t until I became a pastor that I eventually got a cell phone —it resembled a small walkie-talkie—and I remember at the time thinking I was quite the technophile.
Nowadays, of course, I can’t imagine life without a cellphone and a laptop. I am amazed at how much has changed just within the past 25 years in regard to the ways we communicate with each other. And while the ways we communicate have changed, what has not changed is the basic need and desire for us to communicate with one another.
I believe the above is not true just for us, but is also true for God. Just as our desire to communicate with each other and have done and continue to do so in a variety of ways, so too, God wants to communicate with us. And perhaps more importantly, God is not limited in the ways/manner God does this. If we are looking for God to communicate with us using only the spoken or written word, we will miss much that God has to communicate with us.
God communicates with us in the movements of our spirits, in the musings of our minds, and in the longing of our hearts. If we are going to come to know what God wants us to know, we need to listen with our hearts, our minds, our spirits, and our whole being. If we only listen with our ears, we are limiting our awareness and understanding of what God wants us to know.