Once upon a time, Mr. Alexander Graham Bell (whom we shall call God for short) picked up a telephone and spoke over it to his assistant, Mr. Thomas Watson. Did Mr. Watson hear the famous words ring out, “Mr. Watson—Come here—I want to see you”?
He did not.
In fact he heard nothing. Perhaps a little static.
God tried the second time. What did He say? We will never know. Neither will Mr. Watson. He did not hear what God said the second time, nor the third time, nor yet the fourth time. He heard only the words that worked at last (the who-knows-how-many-nth time) when at last both ends of the telephone and every bit of the line between were finally in synch, and recorders of history set down for all time the utterly insignificant message, “Mr. Watson—Come here—I want to see you.”
God speaks. No doubt about it. And since He is the perfect speaker, we tend to assume that when He speaks, there can be no second opinion on the matter. This is true, with one caveat: I am not a perfect receiver.
Mr. Bell’s half of the conversational attempt may have been flawless; this did not help Mr. Watson. In fact, I suspect there are plenty of unrecorded stories from the interval in which the invention was almost working, the interval in which Mr. Bell said with perfect clarity, “Mr. Watson—Come here—I want to see you” and Mr. Watson was certain he heard, “Masser Dobson—Shtay there—I’m going to shoot you.”
God speaks perfectly. No doubt about it.
His words should always be received with humility.
Yes! Thank you for putting words to the struggle in my soul over the seemingly incompatible differences in what we humans “hear” from God. I’ve just been through it on a very personal level and it left me shaken to the core for a bit. I love that last sentence…”be received with humility.”
How could I respond in anything but utter humility when I realize how perfect He is and how human I am???? The problem is, I forget too often.
I LOVE your example of misinterpretation at the end. Well put and a very good point.
The Jesus who said, “My sheep know my VOICE,” is so much more eager to speak to us than we are to listen to Him. Fear and unbelief have been the two biggest barriers for me- perhaps a result of having grown up in a culture that strongly implied that the church served as the mediator between God and man. I am learning to know and love that voice on a deeply personal level, while at the same time gaining a new appreciation for the way it speaks through other members of the body of Christ….
It must have taken some courage to address this subject- thank you. Your words are a gift. 🙂