Summary: God speaks to us in a still small voice - but how good are we at hearing Him in the silence?
The silence of God
We pick up the story of Elijah just after his most amazing moment. He has stood for God against the prophets of Baal, & proved that God alone is the true God as the Lord poured fire down to consume his offering. But then the prophet hears that Jezebel has issued a death threat against him, & he is terrified & runs away. When he finally lies down for rest in the desert he prays to die he is so depressed.
I have found that often when we are at the most high point, full of wonder we can start to experience doubt & depression, just like Elijah here. So in this amazing famous encounter God meets with him. So what lessons are there here for us?
Well first of all we should notice the human trait that exists in all of us, namely that when things start to go wrong we loose perception. Elijah complained to God that he was the only one left, but he found out after his remarkable encounter with God that God says there are 7000 who have not bowed their knees to Baal.
The problem is if we focus like Elijah did on our problems we will end up exaggerating how awful things when we are low. If only we can look to God, keep our eyes on Jesus we will notice that the clouds are not quite as dark & not quite as encompassing as they appear. There is Elijah ‘O woe is me I’m all alone’ while there are 7000 he has not looked up to see. So the first lesson, when the dark clouds are around us look up to God not down at your feet.
But there is a deeper message for us here too. Often we look for God in all the wrong places. You know there is a wonderful hymn in our hymn books Hymns & Psalms 500 which contains the amazing line – ‘we strain to glimpse your mercy seat & find you kneeling at our feet’.
We think we will find God in the splendour of magnificent Churches or the loud voices raised in praise. We think we will glimpse our God in the wind or earthquake or fire, but in reality he comes to us in the silence. The noisy things might get our attention as they got Elijah’s, but it’s in the silence that we actually get to encounter & hear God.
But, & it’s a big but, in our society everything is about noise. Even in Church silence is a rare commodity. I have found that very often when I include silence people get nervous & don’t like it. There is a smattering of coughing or the noise of fidgeting. Yet if God encounters us in the silence shouldn’t we be practicing the art of listening in silence more?
The NIV translates this silence as ‘a gentle whisper’. The Good News ‘a soft whisper’. But the King James is the one we all know isn’t it, the ‘still small voice’. But the most accurate way to translate this verse wouldn’t be voice or whisper at all but complete or utter or total silence.
You know if you want to hear God, if you want to hear Him regularly you better start practicing spending some time in silence with Him. And I have chosen the word practice deliberately, if we don’t practice this disciple of being still & waiting on God will never be good at it.