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...