1 Kings 19: 9-18
In today’s chapter, chapter 19, Queen Jezebel was furious because Elijah killed her 450 prophets. As the queen pronounced his death sentence, his moment of glory ended as abruptly as it began. In response to this situation, Elijah fled, running from Queen Jezebel to the deep inside of the cave in the desert. Yes, disappointment time comes for Elijah, and it turns into his examination time—as to whether, or not, God was really with him at the worship battle.
We imagine Elijah had to deal with a deep level of disappointment. Elijah was in a crisis of faith that drove him to give up on ministry and lie down with a desire to die. Thanks be to God, who has not abandoned Elijah. God communed with him by questioning—“Why are you here, Elijah? What are you doing here, Elijah?” Then, God instructed Elijah, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
A strong wind tore through the mountains and broke apart the stones; however, God was not in the wind. After the wind, an earthquake came and shook the land; however, God was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, a fire, maybe a similar one that fell on the altar during the worship battle, came; however, God was not in the fire this time. A strong wind, earthquake, and fire did not contain God. After all these powerful signs passed by, a sound of sheer silence, the sound thin and quiet, caused Elijah to hide his face in awareness of God’s presence.
Like Elijah, who fled, we often flee as well. Like Elijah, who was alone, tired, and exhausted and hid in a cave, we often feel exhausted, alone, self-righteous, and under attack as we look for new signs of God’s presence and direction. Maybe, like Elijah, we very often try to find God’s presence and guidance through a great wind, a strong earthquake, or a big fire.
Yet, I invite everyone to think of how the wind, earthquake, and fire can be distractions, although we are very often tempted to find God’s divine works when we are desperate. I wonder if we fail to see God’s hands and hear God’s voice in our ordinary lives because we only expect that God’s presence is always made manifest in wind, earthquake, and fire.
When the focus is on size, numbers, or power—sizes of buildings and parking lots, numbers of budget and heads at the pew, although those are also important—many times, we may be overwhelmed, maybe fear, maybe self-doubt, or perhaps uncertain, leading us to hide in a cave.
One of the hardest lessons we must learn from today’s passage is that God is in the quiet, God is in the silence, and God is in the gentle.
God still comes the small voice, whisper, and a sound of sheer silence, and questions us: “Hey, FCC. What are you doing here? And, why are you here? Come out of the cave and stand on God’s mountain; you are not the only one left; there are thousands of others who have not come along with the way of the world.”
Thanks be to God.