If you listen closely, God’s word comes through loud and clear

Remember the old television game show called “Password”? It ran for almost two decades in one form or another on the CBS and ABC networks. The format of play went something like this: a player who was given the “password” tried to help his partner (who didn’t yet know the word) to guess it through offering a series of one-word clues. The object was to discover the correct password with as few clues as possible. But the game inevitably took a funny twist or two, as the clue-giver gave hints that were hard to decipher, and the guesser struggled to concentrate and to read the thoughts and the mind of his partner, proving that communication in swift, single-word spurts can often be very difficult to interpret.

Sometimes it may feel as if listening for the voice of God is a bit like playing “Password.” The messages seem to come irregularly, maybe in spurts, and we may feel ill-equipped to interpret them. The scriptures tell us that the ancient prophets heard the word of God and tried to share it with others. But even with the aid of a human partner, how hard it was for the prophets’ listeners to understand God’s message! How much simpler it could have been if everyone just heard the word directly, leaving out all the guesswork.

Have you ever gotten a word directly from God? Most of us would probably answer that we haven’t. And yet, maybe we are all offered opportunities every day to receive a word from God, but we aren’t really ready for the conversation. Yet occasionally, life circumstances make us so hungry for some word from God that we do actually pay attention, and the message comes through loud and clear.

Reverend Frederick Buechner once wrote of a time when a word from God came directly to him. It was a very low point in his life, when he was consumed with worry about his daughter’s illness and all his family’s problems. He was parked by the roadside, simply sitting in his car, thinking over the painful dilemmas he faced and how unsure he was about how to proceed, when a car drove slowly by. God’s message to him was on the rear license plate. That license plate bore the one word out of all words that he most needed to see. The word was: “trust.”

Now, it would be perfectly possible to laugh off that kind of experience as a quirky coincidence. But to Buechner it was an epiphany, because it was exactly what he needed – a message he was willing to believe was meant for him at that dark moment.

Buechner did a little investigation and learned that the car belonged to a trust officer at a local bank. When the trust officer learned about the impact his license plate had had on Buechner, he paid him a visit and presented him with the license plate, as a gift. It was a little rusty around the edges, but it was placed in a place of prominence on Buechner’s bookshelf, and is honored as being as holy a relic as he has ever seen.

Sometimes God’s word rings out clear as a bell, unambiguous and definitive, the word you most need to hear, whether the word is trust, hope, believe, wait or love.

Listen, God may be trying to give you that word now.

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