One of the most riveting movie scenes I’ve ever seen is from the 1997 movie Contact, starring Jodi Foster and Matthew McConaughey. Dr. Ellie Arroway, played by Foster, is an astronomer who has spent years searching for signs of extraterrestrial life.
After years and years of endless silence, she tunes her sensor to a dark, unexplored sector of deep space.
And then she hears it—the unmistakable sound patterns of communication. Someone was trying to speak. To her! The message was focused, deliberate, and personal.
Coming to believe in God is a little bit like that. Not in the “I-hear-alien-voices” sense, but in understanding that a personal and intelligent God is speaking and that he’s speaking to you. This realization is a heart-stopping, life-defining moment.
Like I said, faith does not usually begin with the scientific discovery of God but with a recognition that God is speaking. Like Moses, we may not be listening for him when he speaks. But he beckons us to turn aside and consider Jesus, his Voice become flesh, and the inspired record of Jesus’s message to humankind, the Bible (John 1:14–18; 2 Tim 3:16–17).
My guess is that you’ve probably encountered at least one burning bush in your life. Most likely, several. Maybe you are experiencing one right now.
Recently, a young man showed up at our church on a weekday afternoon. He felt lonely and discouraged about his future. He was not a Christian but felt like God was trying to get his attention and thought the church might help him figure out what to do.
When he showed up, KJ, one of our members, happened to be there, and they began to talk deeply. KJ invited this guy to tag along for the day, and that afternoon they traveled to a place we have downtown that ministers to the less privileged in our city. As they went, they talked through his questions. Before they parted ways, they prayed together. KJ told him he believed that God planted these questions in his heart and that God was working through these questions, doubts, and struggles to draw him closer.
A few days later this young man got an unexpected job offer but didn’t have transportation to and from the job. KJ volunteered to drive him until he could make other arrangements. During one of their commutes, the man said he believed God might have arranged all this hardship to call him to surrender his life to God. KJ agreed. KJ explained the gospel to him again, but this man still wasn’t ready to go all in.
That next weekend, the young man came to one of our services. Afterward at lunch, he told KJ that the message on Mark 4—which attempted to explain what Jesus is doing in the storms of our life—had addressed every question he was pondering. He said, “KJ, I know God is speaking to me. I can’t fight it anymore. I need to listen.” So right then, in the middle of Jason’s Deli, the man prayed to give his life to Jesus.
God speaks. Constantly. He puts small “speakers” in nature, in beauty, in our pain, our pleasures, and our questions. Most clearly, his voice calls out to us through Scripture.
Are you listening? It might not answer all your questions, but it will bring you face to face with a God even bigger than your questions.
Greear, J. D., and David Jeremiah. 2018. Not God Enough: Why Your Small God Leads to Big Problems. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
We have just released a new Bible Study based on J.D. Greear’s newest book, Not God Enough. These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.