MOST PEOPLE WHO have been Christians for any length of time have experienced a season or more when God seems silent. On occasions, that’s because He has actually gone quiet for one reason or another. But there are also situations in which He is still speaking—we just can’t hear Him because we are not close enough.
Jesus certainly spoke to crowds in a loud voice, but He doesn’t typically shout at individuals. To me, that seems to be consistent with God’s character: He didn’t bark orders down to Adam and Eve from heaven. He came and walked and talked with them in the cool of the day.
When the prophet Elijah sought God on Mount Horeb, he didn’t detect Him in the great wind, the earthquake, or the fire. God was not in any of those noisy expressions; He was in the “low whisper” (1 Kings 19:12). Or, as the New King James puts it, “A still small voice.”
All of which makes it so important we are following close to Jesus to be able to hear Him—not dragging along behind at a distance, like Peter on the night of Jesus’s betrayal. Peter actually knew this principle well himself, having acknowledged it at the Last Supper not long before he folded in the courtyard of the high priest.
When Jesus announced to the group that someone was going to betray Him, Peter called to John to ask of Jesus: “Who?” Why did he ask John to inquire? Because John was the disciple laying back on Jesus’s chest, in the dining style of the day. Imagine being able not only to hear Jesus’s quiet words, but His very heartbeat!
Getting to that place—or, rather, back to it, if we have drifted away—may require being willing to get undignified. When Peter realized that the risen Jesus was waiting on the beach for the disciples who were out fishing, he couldn’t hang around for the boat to reach the shore. He jumped over the side and began swimming for shore.
Did it cross his mind that maybe he could walk on the waves, as he had done one time before when he set out for Jesus? Maybe, but he didn’t care what others thought about him, thrashing about in the water, clothes all wet. He just had to get to Jesus—and once there, he had a sweet encounter of restoration and recommissioning that erased his failure.
Peter’s determination reminds me of the time the two blind men were sitting on the road from Jericho when Jesus walked by. Learning He was near, they began crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” (Matt. 20:30). The crowd told them to be quiet, “but they only shouted louder, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!’” (v. 31).
Like Peter, they didn’t care what others thought; they only wanted Jesus. Their disregard for decorum was a measure of their desire for Him. Healing followed.