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From the Front Porch: “The Still, Small Voice”

August 8, 2011 2 comments

A statue in the Cave of Elijah. The cave is lo...

The Cave of Elijah on Mount Carmel (Author: Joe Freeman). Permission granted for reuse under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike v2.5.

There are times when I feel alone, abandoned by my friends and wondering where God is in the struggles of my life.  Perhaps you can identify with this feeling of isolation. It is a dreadful emptiness inside, an ache in the gut, a feeling that we are left to figure things out for ourselves. It is at those times when I would like to see a visible demonstration of God’s power just to assure me that He still cares for me and that I’m not walking alone. “C’mon God, you see how things are for me!  Do something! Show me your power in a visible way!”

The prophet Elijah must have had similar feelings. When we join up with him in 1 Kings 19, he is running for his life from the evil Queen Jezebel, who vowed to kill him. Eventually, he took refuge in a cave on Mount Horeb, his enemies in hot pursuit. When God asked Elijah what he was doing in the cave, Elijah voiced his complaint: “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away” (1 Kings 19:10, NRSV, italics mine).  In this stark verse, we can almost feel the emptiness — the feeling of abandonment and isolation — that Elijah must have felt at that critical juncture of his life.  In effect, isn’t Elijah voicing a similar complaint that we voice during moments of crisis and struggle? “O God, you see what’s happening. Why don’t you do something? I feel so alone in this!”

God then told Elijah to stand near the entrance to the cave and he would speak to him. There, God treated Elijah to feats of nature–a brutal wind and an earthquake followed by fire. Remarkably, Elijah could not find God in any of these natural phenomena. But after everything settled down, there was ” a sound of sheer silence”, easily identifiable to Elijah as the “still, small voice” of God. (1 Kings 19:11-12, NRSV).

There were two messages that Elijah heard in God’s silence.  First, God assured Elijah that  he was not alone in the darkness of his struggle to reform Israel, but was very present in the “still, small voice” within him.

Second, from what follows in the reading, God assured Elijah that his will would be fulfilled, not in visible demonstrations of raw power but in the quietness of peoples’ hearts as they listened to the voice of God move within them (1 Kings 19:15-16).

In the midst of our struggles, when we feel alone, there are times when we would like to see a visible demonstration of God’s power wiping out our problems and setting things in the world right. Instead, God comes to us in the stillness and quietness of our hearts, assuring us of His Presence in the midst of our troubles by the “still, small voice” bringing us to a faithful, loving and trusting relationship in Him.

What’s the “still, small voice” of God saying to you today?

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