Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Still Small Voice...

The words silenced all thoughts. My heart leaped for joy. I wept. A knowing began to wash over my soul...a sunrise, after night...brightness after murky dark...the freedom of truth...again God's grace.

I first read these powerful words from I Kings 19:11-12 on a friend's blog on Thursday afternoon...God's revelation to the prophet Elijah on Mount Horeb (Sinai):

Then He (the Lord) said, "Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord." And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. I Kings 19:11-12 NKJV

Interesting that God speaks...after the wind...the earthquake...the fire...in a still small voice. God chose to speak to Elijah in the proverbial, "calm after the storm". Is that the way He speaks to us as well?

So often the storms of life grab our attention. We think that God is speaking through the storms. At least...it is the storm that gets our attention. The crisis...the trauma...the devastation...shouts at us. We're riveted and become very aware of how small we are in this vast world.

I think of September 11, 2001 and the falling down of the World Trade Centres in New York...of the Tsunami December 26 a few years after on the shores of Asia...of many disasters on a large scale. I think of personal trauma that affects our lives and the ones of those we love...death, disease, accidents, violence.

I think of small crisis', sometimes daily trials we have. I think of last week when I was reeling from the tsunami of needs in my life...a feverish child, and another with a migraine, a brother who lives in a group home who needed a complete medication change, and I...struggling to maintain the household with less than 3 hours sleep for several days. The hungry tummies, diapers of twins, mountains of laundry, scattered dinky toys, school lessons,and the urgency that is generated by 5 young children...and my troubling fears that have assaulted me...on and off...since the day of my first child's birth almost 10 years ago...am I gentle enough, loving enough, kind enough?" I panic. The truth is I am not gentle or loving enough, none of us are.

...the panic ensues after we face our inadequacies. We cry out...sometimes to God, yes...to anyone. We need help. We cry out or we sink...

I can't listen when I panic...Can you?

In the middle of fear, the rush of adrenaline, the racing thoughts, we cry out and it is the Lord who sustains, who fights for us. He rallies the angels, stirs peoples' hearts to meet our needs and works in ways we will never know. He is God. He is love. Out of that love He orchestrates and intercedes on our behalf. He is our refuge and our strength. When we are weak, He is strong. His power is made perfect in our weakness.With Him, all things are possible.

We learn, like the Egyptians as they fled from Pharoah's wrath,

"The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent." Exodus 14:16 NASV

How many battles does the Lord fight for you and I. Miraculous and poignant, "The sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and their left." Exodus 14:29 NASV

Can you imagine the awe of the Israelites as they walked on dry land through the sea, water heaped on either side of them? What a battle! Oh, to witness such power in a tangible way!

When we grasp His truths, our faith grows. He is the source of life, abundant life... the life He longs for His children to live.

"...cease striving and know that I am God...The God of Jacob is our stronghold."Psalm 46:10 NASV

Over the past 2 days I've thought a lot about the words in I Kings 19: 11-12. Once the wind, earthquake, and fire got Elijah's attention...God spoke in a still, quiet voice. Was Elijah listening then? I think he was. God was gracious with Elijah. He is gracious to us.

His grace...abundant...rich...free. His grace lavished upon us...bestowed upon you and me. Humbling...merciful...loving...that is God.

I was reading this morning in the Psalms...it spoke into my life and resonated truth.

"Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised...God in her palaces, Has made Himself known as a stronghold...terrified, they fled in alarm. Panic seized them there, Anguish as of a woman in childbirth...We have thought on Thy lovingkindness, O God...Thy right hand is full of righteousness...For such is God, Our God forever and ever; He will guide us to death." Psalm 48:1,3,5-6,9-10,14 NASV

God guides us...even in the storms of life, the disasters, the traumas, and the crisis' that He has allowed...all part of His plan, if not His will. In our panic...He still guides us.

Lord, I yearn for more. I need more. I need to listen to your soft and gentle voice...the one that comes after the storm. The one that came to Elijah after he came out of his cave. Teach me to listen, please Lord.

Elijah, like myself, struggles with a little self-righteousness. I am not really that bad, am I? Like Elijah, I cry, "I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts;" I Kings 19:10 NASV

Elijah also said, "...for the sons of Israel have forsaken Thy covenant, torn down Thine altars and killed Thy prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away." I Kings 19:10 NASV

There in a cave the Lord dealt with Elijah. God asked Elijah to stand on the mountain. He didn't obey. He stayed in the cave. Only later did he go out to stand in the entrance of the cave...after the wind...the earthquake...the fire...only when the prophet heard a still, small voice. It was this gracious voice of the Lord which brought him to the entrance...that stirred him to obey.

How like Elijah, we are all. We obey in part. We are courageous at times and after mighty victories of faith, we get despondent and depressed. Then we need to sit under a broom tree and rest. We need food and drink...more rest food and drink and then we can go on.

There are gales in our life, soft winds, earthquakes and tremors, and the purifying fire and then we are ready to listen. We hear our Lord calling us...

A soft and gentle voice...a still small voice...

4 comments:

night owl said...

wow - great post...
sigh...
it just doesn't seem all that fair that we should have to wait until after the crisis to hear a small voice... when we need the voice during the crisis as well... but i guess maybe God does speak to us during the crisis as well, it's just so much harder to hear because we aren't still enough?
but i guess i need to be patient :) hehe... :)
thanks, joyful fox. :)

Joyful Fox said...

Hi Night Owl,

You caught a huge weak spot and perhaps an untruth in my post. I am sorry. A responsibility of a writer is to be clear and leave little room for wrong conclusions drawn.

Thus, yesterdays fear from Susan in "Let the Chips Fall..." and Dave's comment of comfort to her about a new writers' concerns. I got trapped in a new writer's noose. So to clarify without muddying the waters anymore...

God doesn't always give us a crisis...so He can speak. He is more robust than that. He uses crisis', yes... but He speaks all the time to us. Sometimes we just don't listen. In Elijah's case, and sometimes with us, He gets our attention with a crisis and waits till we're ready to listen thus the calm after the storm. He is not a punishing God who lays a trauma or hard time on us just so we'll listen. He loves us. He uses those hard times for His glory but often He grieves with us over man's fallen condition and the result of our choices and sin in the world...another of God's complex mysteries that we will only understand on the other side of glory.

Your observations are accurate. It is hard to hear because we aren't still enough. Many things vie for our attention to God - busyness, our fear of others, idols, and a myriad of other distractions.

Learning to listen is a lifelong battle while we walk this globe. Only in Heaven will we worship Him, hear Him, and know Him fully as He desires to be known.
Sorry for the lack of clarity...

Night Owl said...

Hi Joyful Fox,
Why would you want to leave little room for wrong conclusions drawn anyway? Well, I guess if it's completely wrong that wouldn't be too good, but I was THAT far off was I? I kind of like drawing not-quite-perfect conclusions - it gives a chance to think more critically about something, draw new and old opinions from something and gives me a chance to learn something new from a subsequent response. hehe... Actually, some criticism I myself have received as a writer has been that my work is too "ambiguous"... :) I guess I can work on that too, but there was no consideration in my mind that your article was ambiguous at all... It's just that that's what I happened to draw from it. So I'm sorry that I perceived it not quite as you meant me to.
I don't listen to God as much as I'm sure He must try to speak to me... It's hard to stop and listen with a busy schedule... But you're right, He doesn't want us to suffer... I see what you mean about us stopping and waiting to hear His voice after a crisis... It makes sense that that would be when we would most desire the sound of His voice...
But I do want to listen to Him more. I hope I won't always need to be in a not-so-good situation to realize that I need to stop and listen. People make messes when they don't listen to God... So I guess I need to learn to listen before I make a mess... :)
Love, Night Owl
P.S. Isn't the plural of crisis crises?

Rebekah said...

I am glad the Word of God encouraged you.

Thank you for sharing how these verses spoke to you. I could not have expressed it so eloquently.

We have such a Gracious God!