Thursday, August 29, 2013

In The Stillness

“Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake;  and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” – 1 Kings 19: 11-13

Elijah was such a strong man of God.  He was full of faith and had an intimate relationship with God.  What he prayed for - he got.  He prayed that it wouldn’t rain for three years, and for three years, not a single drop fell!  Think about that! That’s 1095 days of no rain all because a man like us, Elijah, asked God to withhold it!  No rain for that long affected everyone with drought on crops and gardens, a lack of fresh water, and dust that would fill the air.

On Mount Carmel he challenged evil itself by proving that the 450 prophets of Baal served a god that didn’t exist.  God’s word in 1 Kings 18:27-29 says they cut themselves and cried out all day and their god wouldn’t even send down fire to consume their sacrifice.  Verse 29 says, “But there was no voice, no one answered, no one paid attention.”   And then Elijah, full of his zeal for God, wet his altar with water poured on the stones and sacrifice three times, called on God, and God answered with fire from Heaven.  The fire of God not only consumed the sacrifice, but all of the wood and stone of the altar as well!  How’s that for an answer to prayer!  Elijah then killed the 450 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, and prayed and God sent rain, ending the three year drought. 

The death of Queen Jezebel’s prophets quickly earned Elijah a death warrant.  She sent word to Elijah by a messenger in 1 Kings 19:2 “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.”

It would seem that a man so filled with faith would take a stand against Jezebel and send back a message to the tune of “Bring it on, sista!”.  But his faith failed him.  He ran for his life! He ran all day, and finding himself exhausted, he sit under a tree and prayed to die.  What did God do for His faithful servant?  He sent him an angel with food and encouraged him to eat.  It was a holy meal that allowed strength in Elijah to go 40 days without another bite, until he came to Mt. Horeb, the mountain of God.  This was the same mountain that God had met with Moses on.

How quickly the world can take over and make God seem so far away.  Elijah had run to God in his distress.  And when God showed up, He asked “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  It wasn’t a question of his presence on the mountain, but his absence from what he was supposed to be doing instead.  Elijah’s answer speaks of his fear as he says “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.” 

Have you ever felt lonely?  “I alone am left”, he said.  He was full of fear, feeling alone, and questioning why this was happening when he had been faithful to God.  Yet God was there the whole time.

God called Elijah out of the cave in the mountain, and yet Elijah didn’t budge!  He sat there in fear, forgetting all the blessings God had given him in answered prayers.  What happened next must have been awesome to see!  There was a strong wind that blew and broke the rocks into pieces and tore into the mountain.  That’s a mighty strong wind to be able to break rock!  Then an earthquake came, shaking the very foundation of the mountain.  And then fire came to the mountain.  In all these things, God doesn’t speak a word.  He waits for Elijah to come to Him.  And then, we read in 1 Kings 19:12 “and after the fire a still small voice.

The voice of God is a still small one, intimate, and as sweet as a whisper.  But life can be hard.  We can feel like those prophets of Baal, who could not hear their god’s voice, felt no answer, and that no one was paying attention.  But our God has said that He would never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).  Sometimes we have to push through the noisiness of our problems, and listen for that small voice.  He is our source for strength.    

“Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord” is what He asked of Elijah.  He calls as well to come to Him, and in a soft voice of love.  Elijah went out and stood in the cave opening, and had a talk with God.  God gave him direction, a plan for the remainder of his life. 

Push through all the noise of the world, and listen for that still small voice.  Have a talk with God, an intimate one, and find the stillness that comes from hearing His voice.

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