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 19:11, 12
The hardest place to live is when God isn’t.
I meant to write that – WHEN God IS NOT. He isn’t here, He isn’t talking, He isn’t listening, He isn’t doing the things God should be doing. Like tearing mountains apart or moving the earth. Or healing sickness or answering prayers (at least in the way we want Him to). Or working fast enough or even at all.
When God isn’t. This where Elijah is in 1 Kings. He is living when God isn’t. At least that is his perspective on things. The Lord has to then take Elijah aside, on a mountainside to give him another perspective.
Even when God isn’t….He is.
I think that’s the point of the confrontation. If you read carefully, the text doesn’t say that God is in the whisper. The whisper is nothing. It is easily ignored, missed. A whisper is known for what it isn’t. It isn’t loud, demanding, audible, noticeable. The whisper nudges Elijah to the front of the cave to see God.
Even in the whisper – God isn’t. But it’s enough to teach Elijah that even when God isn’t…He is.
That is the mark of a mature Christ-follower. Not the knowledge or talent. It’s the stillness of spirit that knows when God isn’t…He is. And that isn’t a maturity that comes easy. It’s hard earned thru the those times of when God isn’t. Times of when prayer isn’t answered…or answered in a way we don’t like. Times of suffering and hurt. Times of feeling like the world is going crazy around us and where is God. That’s where this maturity is developed.
A lot get shipwrecked there as well – when God isn’t. They leave too early, give up too quickly. Get offended to easily. Mistakenly believe that God owes us something. And they miss the whisper that would point them to even when God isn’t, He is.
I just found out my dad has prostate cancer. They are going to operate on him the day before we leave for Brazil. To hear him speak about it – he’s ready to be done with this so he can move on. He’s got patients to minister to. (He’s a volunteer chaplain up at their local hospital.) Grandkids to tease.
But this will be a time when God isn’t. And no matter how it turns out, we’ll once again experience that even when God isn’t…..
He is.You can find more of Grant's random thoughts on his blog.