May 24, 2024

Sight Unseen / Brandon A. Evans

The secret language of God

Brandon A. Evans

“I shall also give a white amulet, upon which is inscribed a new name, which no one knows except the one who receives it” (Rv 2:17)

This quote from the Book of Revelation hints to us the possibility that God will give those who have risen with Christ a new name—a name previously unknown to them.

It’s wild, and a little scary, to think that what we’ve been called our whole lives will one day be transcended by something which describes us perfectly; something that we’ve longed to hear all these decades without even knowing it.

But the second part of that passage is equally mystifying: that our name will be unknown to anyone else.

A name solely kept between the one who is named and the one who names.

It shows an intimacy in our relationship with God—a way in which we are each bound to him differently than anyone else. And I think it gives us a clue about how he speaks to us in this present world.

I’ve wished and prayed so many times to be able to see and hear Jesus as the disciples did, or as the saints have experienced in extraordinary visions. But I haven’t, not because he isn’t there but because it’s not the best way for me to know him.

God speaks to me in a way that he doesn’t to anyone else. A way that is unique, and that can be explained only vaguely.

It’s a pattern only I can sense, that only I can discern. Clues and connections that the world passes by unnoticed; paths that appear at each step; pages that turn to words which light up a fire in the imagination.

It’s inspiration, tied to coincidence, tied to symbol. It flows around perfectly—almost sings—in a wonderful and unexpected harmony.

It’s our secret language, God and me. Not a secret that divides, but that binds in love.

His whisper in my mind is the answer to the deep prayers of my heart, although it came only after a long, long time of wondering if God was merely a truth blindly accepted, or a silence that must be stoically borne, or worst of all, that he was only and all along just my own voice inside my head.

It breaks my doubts in the only way they could be broken, because his is a language that only one who is greater, wiser and has a knowledge of the future and control of the world would be able to fashion.

“I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than one ought to think,” St. Paul writes. “We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us” (Rom 12:3, 6).

That’s the same passage in which Paul reminds us that we are one body with different parts. My part is superior only to me. Your part is superior only to you. Arrogance and jealousy are not so much sins as they are a waste of time. We are each called to something that only we can do, and no one else.

And likewise, we all hear God differently. To each—when that language is found—it fits so well we wish everyone could hear it. But the song is only meant for one person.

We don’t yet hear him all the time—or even most of the time—as we will in the life to come. But when he chooses to speak, your soul will know the call instantly.

Kind of like hearing your name.

(Sight Unseen is an occasional column that explores God and the world. Brandon A. Evans is the online editor and graphic designer of The Criterion and a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield.) †

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