The last two weeks have brought an overload of voices – am I right? Alleged voter fraud and corruption surrounding the 2020 Presidential Election. Divided nation. Distrust in mainstream media. Reissued guidelines in response to COVID-19 spikes. Even Instagram temporarily disabled the viewing of recent hashtags to reduce the spread of false information. So many voices. And the voices we listen to, will ultimately influence how we speak and what flows from our hearts.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about Hearing God’s Voice – but what about the flip side of that? What can we learn from how God speaks? I’ve always been curious and fascinated in how God characterizes himself to mankind. He possesses all rights and authority to announce Himself any way He desires, in dramatic blazes of glory. After all, He is the Lord of all heaven and earth.
And yet, when He speaks, it is often in the most soft and gentle manner. What does that say about God? What should that say about us?
A Gentle Whisper
During quarantine earlier this spring, I planted myself in a study of I and II Kings in an attempt to mentally untangle all of the kings and kingdoms of Israel! One evening, I landed upon I Kings 19.
“The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”I Kings 19:11-13
What a beautiful image of how God characterized himself to Elijah – not as a strong wind, or in a powerful earthquake, or in a blazing fire. He manifested himself in a gentle whisper.
Strength under control is actually even more powerful, and it draws people near and makes them be still, versus driving people away because they feel small and incapable. It made me realize my default is “earthquake or fire mode,” instead of serving as a vessel that carries His gentle whisper.
The more I thought about it… I think it’s so easy to want to manifest ourselves as a strong wind (trying to control situations or people) or an earthquake (to shatter glass ceilings or expectations) or a fire (letting heated emotions run wild) as a way to demonstrate our power, strength, resilience and abilities.
But when we’re constantly trying to prove our power and worth, that makes people stop in awe for the wrong reasons because the attention is on us instead of the LORD.
When God characterized himself as a whisper, he silenced all of that and harnessed his strength and might into something even more powerful, because it invited His servant Elijah to be still and draw near with open ears. As the winds, earthquakes, and fires are raging all around us, may we follow God’s example as a gentle whisper.
Positioned and Prepared
“What are you doing here, Elijah?” – God asked him twice. Of course, God already knew the answer, but He wanted Elijah to affirm and verbalize it himself.
And twice, Elijah expressed his sorrow and grief, “I am the only one left.” When everyone else had forsaken God’s covenant and tore down the altars, and killed all prophets, Elijah grieved and cried out to God that “I, even I only, am left.” (I Kings 19:20, 24). That hits close to home.
Am I willing to be the “only one left?”
When everyone else has turned away from God . . . Or when everyone else has moved on to greener pastures . . . am I willing to keep standing as the “only one left?”
In the face of conflict, chaos and controversy, may we choose courage. In the midst of loneliness and isolation, may we choose faith. In a wicked culture that glorifies sin and mocks righteousness, may we choose steadfast allegiance to God.
Have I positioned myself in a place where I can hear God speak?
Have I prepared my heart for what God chooses to say?
After Elijah poured out his heart, God entrusted him several commands to carry out. He instructed Elijah to go back to the wilderness of Damascus to (1) anoint a new king over Syria, (2) anoint a new king over Israel, and (3) anoint Elisha as a new prophet to take Elijah’s place. And then God promised He would leave seven thousand in Israel, “all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” (I Kings 19:18)
When Elijah positioned and prepared himself to hear God speak, God delivered a promise of a continued legacy. In a time of darkness and defeat, God was still working and preparing to rise up a new generation of kings and prophets.
These days, it certainly seems like evil and corruption are prevailing and the righteous few are in the minority. It’s both discouraging and disheartening. And yet I Kings 19 issues such a powerful encouragement of how we can speak and respond to the darkness, and how we can position ourselves to hear God speak.
Out of all the voices in the world – there is only One that crushes the darkness – through a still and gentle whisper.