“There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” 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.” 1 Kings 19:9-12 NIV
For those women in my audience who’ve ever been pregnant, you’ll get what I’m about to say. In the early stages of my pregnancy, even though you could see what is called “the baby bump” I had never felt my daughter move. Then one Sunday afternoon as I laid on my sofa, I felt what I can only describe as a little flutter, I jumped to attention. It was a different sensation, something wonderful, new and exciting. Even though she was fully alive at conception, she was too tiny for her movement to be felt or seen on the outside. But that Sunday afternoon was the breaking of her silence. She knocked ever so gently, as if to say I’m here. I waited a whole other month before the flutter became a nudge. Oh the joys of pregnancy, minus the morning sickness😰
What we often call the silence of God is nothing more than our inability to be still. In our fast paced world we barely have time to think let alone be still. But the psalmist wrote that the only way to recognize Him as God is by being still. Psalm 46:10. C. S. Lewis has made this quote famous. “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” But I’ve discovered that God whispers more often than He shouts. And like a baby’s first movement, we’ll miss it if we’re not still.
Elijah’s heart was in turmoil. God wanted to quiet him so that He could whisper His next assignment for this great prophet. After he had been fed supernaturally by the Lord, he travelled forty days and nights to Horeb, the mountain of God, and spent the night in a cave. How many of you have discovered that the Love of God will find us even in a dark cave? Oh the overwhelming never ending reckless love of God. He had a question for Elijah, “what are you doing here?” God is asking some of you the same question. Why have you run back to the place I called you from?
Elijah’s answer was not a surprise to God. He answered based on his feelings and not the foreknowledge of God. I have been zealous for You, doing Your work, everyone has turned their back on You, except for me. 🎻 Do you feel like that sometimes-That you’re in the struggle alone? The world is going to hell in a hand basket? You’re the only one doing right? Wrong! That’s how you feel, but feelings aren’t always accurate. No doubt Jezebel’s threat was real, but so was the Word of God. I love the Lord. He totally ignores the violin solo and told him to go stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord and experience real reverential fear, experience real power: The power of His presence. But of course whenever God shows up to have an encounter,Satan shows up with distractions. When he has us on the run, he wants to keep us on the run. If we normalize the earthquake, winds and fire, we become numb to the schemes of Satan, and attribute it to God.
The great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but God was not in the wind. Then there was an earthquake. But the Lord was not in the earthquake. Then there was a fire. But the Lord was not in the fire. Satan likes theatrics. God doesn’t need to cause disasters to prove His power. Remember what Jesus did to the storm? He muzzled it. Shut it down. Acts of God my foot! More like acts of Satan. God waited for the theatrics to pass. Drum roll please, well actually quiet please. The King is about to speak. Like a baby’s first flutter, Elijah was about to encounter real strength and power.
After all that we read, “And after the fire God shouted!” No…A Gentle Whisper. Satan didn’t want him to come out of the cave. God told him to go stand on the mountain. Let’s read verse eleven again.
The Lord said, “ Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Before he could leave the cave all hell broke loose. How do I know this is true? I’m glad you asked. Let’s read verse thirteen again: “And when Elijah heard it, (the gentle whisper) he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.”
He never made it to the mountain, he was still in the cave. Satan wants you stuck! Don’t allow the noise of the enemy to distract you from hearing the whispers of God. He’s never the author of confusion. 1 Corinthians 14:33. Satan does not want us to be still. Isaiah warned the Israelites, and may it serve as a warning to us.
For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: “In returning and rest shall ye be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength; but ye would not.” Isaiah 30:15
He said in essence that God was offering them an opportunity to rest by trusting in Him, but they wanted no part of it. Quietness, stillness builds strength. That’s where we train our spiritual ears to listen intently for the whispers of the Holy Spirit. We miss Him in busyness. Being still doesn’t connote idleness, it’s a stillness in the place where God alone dwells. You can be busy at work and yet be still. You can be busy doing housework and be still. And yes you can find a quiet place for just you four and be still (Father, Son, Holy Spirit and you). Stillness is the peace you experience in your everyday walk with Jesus. The storm, the earthquake and the fire are but distractions from what is to come: A prelude to our hearing from Him. Don’t get anxious and fretful. They will pass. Heaven and earth will pass away. But Jesus is still walking the waves and commanding the storms to be still.
Have you heard His whispers lately?
Heavenly Father in the Name of Jesus, The One who stills the storms of my heart, and whispers peace. Hello! Welcome! I’ve missed our moments together. It’s been too long. Come sit a while. These moments are precious, I want to drink it all in. I will be still. I will wait. While the storms of life passes by. I’ll stay protected under the shadow of Your wings. Your whispers are rare, but I don’t want them to be. Help me draw close until the flutter of your touch is felt in my innermost being. Welcome…Please stay a while🙏
The Potter’s Hand by Darlene Zschech (with lyrics)
Written by permission of the Holy Spirit