s I write today, I have a sense of being culled from the herd. Sickness has necessitated being shutdown from almost all of my professional and personal obligations. As I ponder, "Where is God" in this situation, I am struck by this scripture from 1 Kings.
Elijah had tucked his prophet's robe between his legs and sprinted in terror to escape the threats of his wicked queen. Oh, our faith is so fickle at times. We courageously rage against strongholds in the power of the Spirit only to shrink away when the darkness returns our fire. Here, we learn that the most mighty among us are susceptible to this phenomena.
Even in Elijah's faithless, fearful state, God was faithful to him. He fed him in the wilderness and He fellow-shipped with him in a cave. God was teaching Elijah about the consistency of His faithfulness. God was saying, "Not only do I reside in the mighty and miraculous, but I am present in a cave, in the wilderness, as I speak in whispers to you.
Elijah was a fire and brimstone kind of guy. He was frustrated that his prophetically empowered efforts had failed to turn Israel from their idolatry. He took the rejection personally. God needed some downtime to remind Elijah that Israel was rejecting Him, not Elijah.
This is what I am learning. In his book, The Shelter of the Most High, Francis Frangipane writes, "It is human nature to imagine the outcome of our labors. We so easily and prematurely project ourselves into a place of fulfillment. Yet, whatever our task, we must obey God and leave the results of our efforts in His hands." (p.28) Elijah wanted to harvest the crop of Israel's repentance. It turns out he was only a waterboy,: hard reality for a fire and brimstone guy. His message prepared hearts - Elisha would gather the harvest. Our service in God's causes can accomplish several things: planting, watering, fertilizing and reaping. We offer our service to the praise of the One who calls us. He alone can change hearts and renew minds. He alone gets to choose the part of His process our service fulfills.
I continue to learn that intimate knowledge of our LORD is best gained in an intimate setting. A mature understanding of His ways is best imparted, not by fire, or brimstone, or thunder, or miracles but, by the soft and tender whisper of unfathomable wisdom in the middle of silence. It's disconcerting that our culture produces a fast-paced, frantic and noisy atmosphere that engages us around the clock. Our LORD and Savior is best revealed to the lonely who silently mourn in desperate need. Can I become a desperate saint?
Pastor Frangipane reminds us, "We too must learn to hear the voice of Him who rarely speaks audibly and observe the actions of Him who is otherwise invisable...He will not fight for our attention: He must be sought. He will not startle us; He must be perceived...We must learn to see Him who is unseen." (p. 31) To which I add this thought, "and hear the voice of One who makes no sound."
The LORD will only whisper wisdom to those who acknowledge they are listening. Jesus was the most intentional man who ever lived. He never wasted a breath, much less a word. God will not speak just to hear Himself talk. He speaks with purpose when we place ourselves in a position that is open to His instruction and willing to obey. The more we acknowledge to God we are listening, the more He will teach us about Himself and His ways. Eventually, we can achieve a consistent dialog with the One who gives us significance, purpose and peace. In the words of Samuel, "Speak LORD, your servant is listening; listening to the silence."