“Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows” (Lk 12:6-7).
Some thirty-five plus years ago I was in high school and either in my junior or senior sociology or psychology class, my teacher mentioned that if we thought Stephen King told amazing tales, we should definitely read the Bible. He keyed in especially on the imagery expressed in the Book of Revelation. My teacher’s comment piqued my interest because at the time I enjoyed reading Stephen King, though I had not spent any time reading the Bible.
My teacher’s words stayed with me beyond that class period. A few weeks or months later I remember going to Waldens, a bookstore, at the Enfield Mall in the next town over from where I grew up in East Windsor, Connecticut. I purchased a King James Bible. I don’t remember reading it right away, but shortly sometime after, I do remember leaving a party. I don’t remember anything about the party or why I left, but when I arrived home, I remember going up to my room and for some reason grasping my new Bible. I then opened it at random and began reading. The verse above was what I read, and it was the first time I can remember experiencing God speaking to me.
It was not a booming voice emanating from the burning bush that was directed to Moses, the room didn’t shake, nor did the lights flicker. Yet, in that quiet and still moment, I heard in my mind, “You will not ever win the lottery, but like the sparrows, I will take care of you. I will always give you the ability and means to work.” God has proven true to his word. I have not won the mega millions, but God has provided me with the opportunity to have regular, gainful employment and even though experiencing some tight financial times through the years, God has provided beyond work through the kindness of friends, families, as well as some amazing assistance outside of the norm at times.
Does God still speak to us as he spoke to the people in the Bible? Absolutely! God does speak to us directly, he also speaks to us through his written word in our personal reading, in our time of communal worship, and through preaching. He also speaks to us through the sacraments, music, art, movies, through others, through our serving each other, through his creation, and a myriad of other infinite possibilities.
The question is not so much, does God still speak to us? The question is why do we not hear and how do we open ourselves up to his words or his silence? One way is to ask God to help us to recognize his voice. So we can be like the sheep that come to learn the shepherd’s voice. Another way is to stop and be still. Doing so gives us the opportunity for reflection, to ask God to reveal times in the past where he has spoken and we were not aware. When we examine and reflect on our day, with God’s help we can see where God has been with us and reaching out to us.
Not only do we need to make a consistent time each day to pray but we need to stay long enough to listen! One of the biggest reasons many of us do not hear God is because we are not listening or we don’t make the time to stop. God’s silence is also a profound answer. There are many people that may want to give us advice, to offer solutions to fix our problems, when sometimes, we just need to stop, slow down, and be still. Are we willing to be open and believe that God speaks to us, and guides us? Fr. Jim Martin, S.J., has expressed the search for finding God in this way: “God is always inviting us to encounter the transcendent in the everyday, the key is noticing” (Martin 2010, 86).
God knows us better than we know ourselves and he loves us more than we can ever imagine. Let us be a little more aware today than we were yesterday, and may we have eyes, ears, and minds open to notice God present in our lives. Our Loving God and Father cares for and provides for us as he does the sparrows. Are we willing to answer his invitation to spend time with him and to listen for his word or his silence?
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Martin, S.J., James. The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life. NY: Harper Collins, 2010.