Standing in the empty chapel all alone, Dr. Lucien Blake[NOTE] looks toward the altar. His voice and his eyes are filled with deep emotion. He has just solved the murder of a beloved community priest. Lucien has been away from God for a long time. He is also full of questions that have gone unanswered in the face of his own grief and deep loss.

Dr. Blake is at heart a good man. He yearns to have a connection with God, yet he feels abandoned by a god who will not answer his deepest questions. In this poignant moment and carrying his own painful wounds, he wants to make sense of his world in the face of yet another loss. Many questions haunt him. One question haunts him supremely: Why is God silent to the cries of his children who call out to him for answers.

With a mixture of longing, disappointment, and desperation, Lucien directs a question toward the altar and the silent, twisted body of Jesus on the cross icon. He speaks without hope for an answer to his altar cry: "What father ignores his children?" He pauses a moment and says, "I cannot! You know that I can't." Then he slowly turns and walks away with his footsteps echoing in the silence of the dimly lit chapel.

Lucien is not alone in his frustration with the silence of God. Many of us wonder what we are to make of these silences. Why doesn't our Father in heaven speak in something more than the pages of an ancient book while remaining silent to present generations? And, if he does speak, why is he so hard to hear? And, why don't we recognize his voice if he does?

Unfortunately, many Jesus-loving and Bible-believing churchgoers — and former churchgoers — don't believe they will hear from God. They believe the only way God speaks is when they read the Bible. To suggest differently is to risk advancing a harsh rebuke for advocating "latter-day revelation" and risking ostracism, or worse. These godly and devout folks believe that when the Bible was finally completed, codified, and canonized, then God turned silent:

He doesn't speak or act that way anymore," they'll strongly assert, "he left us the Bible to answer all of our questions.

Many even believe, at least in practice, that God quit fully being God as we read about him in the Scriptures:

He doesn't act that way anymore. He did that to validate the original message, but now we have the Bible and he doesn't need to do that anymore.

But, isn't God still God, the same God, who does not change? (Psalm 55:19; Hebrews 13:8)

But, don't we have the same need to hear from God as many of Jesus' earliest followers did?

Aren't there decisions we have to make, questions we need answered, and a closeness with God as our Father that we need re-awakened in our day?

After all, "What kind of Father ignores his children" when they cry out to him?

Yes, the Bible is awesome. The Scriptures help us understand God's work in history to bring salvation to humanity in Jesus. These Spirit-inspired words instruct us, correct us, challenge us, and equip us to live for God and bring us to salvation (1 Thessalonians 4:8; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; 2 Peter 1:21). These Scriptures open our eyes to the moral call of God along with his challenge for us to love him and each other with all that we are. These Scriptures show us God's faithfulness to his people, his miraculous deliverance of his faithful, his direction to those who needed to know where he needed them, and his gift of words to help them know what to do in their times of need.

But, we must remember that the Bible is not God's ultimate, final, or greatest word! Jesus is God's greatest and most complete message embodied in human flesh (John 1:1-18; Hebrews 1:1-3). And, this Jesus promised to pour out the Holy Spirit on us — both men and women — as the Scriptures promised (Acts 2:16-21, 33-36; Titus 3:3-7). Thus, we would be empowered through the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8), given words to say through the Spirit (Mark 13:11), as well as led and guided by his Spirit (Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:18). So, shouldn't we expect the Spirit to help us hear the messages God wants to give us? Could it be that our lack of expectation and our unfamiliarity with the Holy Spirit has led us to miss the messages of God that our Father wants to give us?

After all, "What kind of Father ignores his children" when they cry out to him?

The radio in our little SUV has three levels of pre-set buttons for us to use to tune into radio stations. However, we've only set five buttons on one level. If we go to the wrong level of buttons, all we are going to get is static or unwanted noise. Could it be that Satan has scrambled the channels so we have a hard time tuning into what God wants to say to us?

If we are going to fully live out God's vision and purpose in our lives, then we must learn to tune our hearts to God's revealed channels of communication. And, we must choose to listen with great expectation for his guidance. That is true whether his message is quietly nuanced or straightforward, whether given in a still quiet voice or a thundering rebuke.

After all, "What kind of Father ignores his children" when they cry out to him?

Certainly not our God who has placed his Spirit in our hearts to cry out Abba Father as his children knowing that he hears us (Romans 8:14-17).

Thankfully, we are not left in the dark about the many ways God has promised to speak to us and to be present with us through the Holy Spirit. While the following list is long, I am sure it is not exhaustive. In fact, I do not want any list to suggest that we can limit what our Sovereign God can and will do to reach us if we listen expectantly to him. The point, however, is not to be exhaustive, but to be suggestive. I want to remind us that God never wanted to be seen as a father who ignored the longings, hurts, cries, and questions of his children:

  • Jesus is God's great, fullest, and most complete message to us (John 1:1-18; Hebrews 1:1-3).
  • Through the Spirit-inspired Holy Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:14-17; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8; 2 Peter 1:21).
  • Guides us into all truth about Jesus and helps us recognize false gospels and false teaching about Jesus (John 14:17; John 15:26; John 16:13-15; 1 John 2:20-27).
  • The songs of other believers that speak God's truth to us (Ephesians 5:19).
  • When we sing (Ephesians 5:19).
  • When we make music in our hearts to God (Ephesians 5:19).
  • When we give thanks to God through Jesus from the bottom of our hearts (Ephesians 5:20).
  • When we submit to each other out of reverence to Christ (Ephesians 5:21).
  • When we receive instruction, encouragement, and correction from other godly believers (Acts 1:2; Acts 9:31; 1 Thessalonians 4:18; 5:19; 1 Peter 4:11).
  • Through our dreams and visions (Acts 2:17-18; Acts 16:6-10; Acts 18:9).
  • Through messages from God's Spirit to our human spirit to help us understand his will for us (1 Corinthians 2:10-14).
  • When we obey God because we love Jesus (Acts 5:32; John 14:15-23).
  • Through the prayers of others for us to receive power and insight through the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:17; 3:14-21; Colossians 1:9).
  • By interceding for us with the Father and communicating our deepest needs in ways beyond words (Romans 8:26-27).
  • Through closed doors to our ministry efforts and through difficult barriers we face (Acts 16:7).
  • What father ignores his children?
  • Through the gifts the Spirit gives us to honor God and bless other believers (1 Peter 4:10-11; Romans 12:1-8; 1 Corinthians 12:7-11; Ephesians 4:7-16).
  • Through the conviction of our hearts when we sin and hear the message of God that convicts us (John 16:7-11; 1 Thessalonians 1:5).
  • Through an uneasy feeling in circumstances that are spiritually dangerous or people are being spiritually deceptive (1 John 2:20-27; 1 John 4:1-6).

This list is just a start. After all, "What kind of Father ignores his children" when they cry out to him?

Remember, Jesus promised us:

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened (Matthew 7:7-8).

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me (Revelation 3:20).

There are many Dr. Lucian Blakes among us. Maybe one of them is you. My prayer is that you keep knocking and listening with expectation. You may not get the exact answer you want, but I believe God will reveal his presence and his will to you. That is especially true when you desire to know God's vision for your life so that you can live "on mission" for him in our broken world. After all, our God emptied heaven of its greatest gift so he could tell you how deeply he loves you. Don't you think he wants you to know that love and his will for you now that you are his child? Remember what the great apostle Paul told the Romans:

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:31-32).

After all, "What kind of Father ignores his children?"

Not our Father!

For this is what the high and exalted One says —
he who lives forever, whose name is holy:

I live in a high and holy place,
but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly
and to revive the heart of the contrite.

(Isaiah 57:15).

[NOTE] The Dr. Blake Mysteries are a series of multi-season episodes about life in Ballarat, Australia and their returned and damaged doctor, Lucien Blake, and his crime-solving work as the problematic Police Surgeon. A cast of wonderful characters share the stories that delve deeply into the struggle of our humanity, and at times, our inhumanity. The series can be seen through a number of media outlets such as BBC TV, Netflix, and Amazon Movies.