Summary: Do we listen as God speaks, Do we even know what He sounds like?
When God Speaks, Who Listens?
Professional athletes, as a group, are not noted for their oratory skills – off the
playing field, that is. From what I understand, several of them are highly
efficient when it comes to getting under the skin of their opponents by the use
of verbal punches. I think it’s called "trash-talking" – or at least, it used to be
called that. But the ability to stand in front of a group of people and talk about
something other than the sport they play is uncommon.
Maybe that’s the reason why one interview, conducted with a professional
football player, stands out in my mind now, even though it’s been several
years since the interview was conducted. (Of course, the fact that the athlete
is a former All-American football player at the University of Tennessee could
have something to do with it, too.)
The interviewee was Reggie White, who at that time had just completed the
terms of his contract with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he had made the
All-star team almost every year since he became a professional. After his
contract with Philadelphia had been fulfilled, White, who is also an ordained
minister – hence his nickname, "The Minister of Defense" – had been free to
sign with any team he wished. And he had several offers that would have
made him a very rich man. But when decision time came, White shocked
most football observers and many of his friends by signing with the team
which was located in the smallest city of all the National Football League
franchises – the Green Bay Packers. The reporter who was conducting the
interview asked White how he had reached his decision to play for the
Packers. I will not soon forget what White said next.
"I spent a lot of time praying about this," White said. "And one day as I
prayed, I heard God say, ‘Reggie, go to Green Bay.’ So that’s what I did."
I suppose White either saw something in the way the interviewer looked at
him at that point, or maybe the reporter chuckled at this response. For
whatever reason, what White said next was this: "You know, when you tell
people you’ve been talking to God, they don’t have a problem with that.
That’s praying. If you believe in that sort of thing, it’s okay. But when you
say that God talked to YOU, then they think you’re crazy or something! Isn’t
prayer supposed to be a conversation with God? And in a conversation, don’t
BOTH parties talk?"
Many people do have problems with that today. And, to be fair about it, I
have to admit that there is some justification for concern or skepticism. Far
too many folks make false claims about hearing the voice of God. "God
spoke to me through my dog and told me to go kill every woman with a
certain color hair that I could." "God told me to take my AK47 assault rifle,
load it, and go down to McDonald’s and open fire." Or what I find almost
equally appalling, "God told me to tell you that He wants YOU to send ME a
$100 pledge of faith donation. And in return, I will send you one of these
beautiful, hand-sewn, anointed prayer rags." All kinds of people are making