My eighteen-month-old granddaughter has discovered a most useful word: “This!” In her early attempts to communicate verbally with us, she has become an expert at pointing dramatically and announcing, “This!”, with the unspoken subtext being, “Pass this to me; give this to me immediately!” The problem we servile adults have is that the finger often points at more than one object and we are left holding them up, one by one, in order to determine which ‘This!’ our diva is demanding. It’s an object lesson in the limitations of language and our need for her to increase her vocabulary in order to more precisely specify which particular object she desires!
Our task as Christians seems to me to be sometimes rather akin to my job at deciphering which “This!” my granddaughter requires. What is God saying to me today? What is the “This!” He wants me to look at? On what is His attention fixed? Because surely where His attention and gaze are is where my attention and gaze need to be?
The prophets repeatedly tell us “this is the word of the Lord” or “this is what the Lord says.” (2 Chron 11:4; Is 37:6, Jer 14:1, Jer 19:3, 15, for example). We all have a a need to hear this word (often called the ‘rhema word of God’, a word that is personal and specific (such as when Jesus told Peter to put down the nets after a fruitless night’s fishing.)) We need to hear the “This!” of God, for He is a God who speaks personally, specifically and directly to us.
It can be difficult at times to discern this word from the many voices crying out to us, but the more time we spend in God’s word and listening for His voice, the more we will not only hear his “This!” but will actually also know what He means by that word.
As the psalmist says, “I hear this most gentle whisper from One I never guessed would speak to me.” (Ps 81:5, The Message)