We long for great encounters in our lives, for noble adventures, and for clear direction. But when the fight is gone and the divine voice is silent, it’s easy to think God has abandoned us. But have you discovered the God Who Whispers?
The God Who Whispers
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 mighty prophet Elijah had witnessed a powerful, miraculous event: a standoff between good and evil. In true Lord of the Rings style, God had destroyed the altar of Baal, a false god, along with a host of Baal’s followers. God had answered Elijah’s prayer: “that these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again” (1 Kings 18:37).
The drama continued, however, when wicked Queen Jezebel cried revenge. Elijah, mighty man of God, suddenly turned into the coward of Judah County and ran for the hills. Depressed and suicidal, he begged God to take his life.
Exhaustion and stress affect even great leaders. After all, Elijah had just run about a hundred miles to escape death by the angry Queen Jezebel (1 Kings 19:1-3). But God had not abandoned his purpose for Elijah or his people. Between bouts of the prophet’s exhaustion and sleep, the angel of God provided food and water that ultimately fueled Elijah for a forty-day-and-night journey to Mount Horeb, the mountain of God.
Elijah felt totally alone, abandoned, and afraid. There, he heard from God and pleaded his martyr case before the Lord: “I’ve been working my heart out for . . . God . . . [because] the people of Israel have abandoned your covenant, destroyed the places of worship, and murdered your prophets. I’m the only one left, and now they’re trying to kill me” (1 Kings 19:10 MSG).
There are times in our lives when God knows only a personal encounter will do. Elijah had walked with God and knew him personally. God’s mantle of power and his hand of protection had sustained Elijah through many dangers. Now, just like a horse who had been knocked down, brutally wounded while protecting the one he loved, Elijah’s spirit lay bared and bleeding.
But God does not shoot his wounded. The Bible says “a bruised reed he will not break, / and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out” (Isa. 42:3). Instead, God prepared Elijah for yet another divine moment-one with his name on it: “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by” (1 Kings 19:11). It was time for the Expert to do his supernatural work.
I’m sure Elijah prepared himself for disaster when a tornadic wind suddenly blew across the mountain, hurling and shattering rocks all around him. But God did not speak then. An earthquake split the ground, followed by a raging fire. With each act of nature, perhaps Elijah braced himself to be swallowed up, blown away, or consumed by the hands of this powerful God.
Yet God remained silent. Forever-like moments passed, then very clearly the voice of God spoke. That Elijah heard it at all is a wonder, after just witnessing scenes out of a miniature Armageddon. But the one whose spirit longs for restoration will not miss the gentle whisper of God as he speaks to the very soul-no matter how long it takes. Elijah moved close to the edge of the cave so he would hear every word.
What followed next was not an astounding truth, just the same question God had asked Elijah only moments previously. It was a question like the one God spoke to Adam: “Where are you?” when he knew exactly where to find Adam. Or like Jesus’ question to Peter: “Do you love me?” when he knew full well the answer.
God simply whispered to the prophet, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:13). Poor Elijah. Still shaking with deep-rooted fear, he blurted the same answer again. But God knew the inmost secrets of Elijah’s heart. Gently, patiently, he breathed hope into his “wounded horse.” He encouraged Elijah with specific instructions exactly at his point of need, to let him know he was not a lone ranger and not a condemned, useless survivor. He said, “Anoint two good kings who will finish destroying the Baal worshipers. Anoint your new future (Elisha). And P.S.: You are not alone. Seven thousand others like you have not bowed the knee to Baal” (See 1 Kings 19:15-18).
The God Who Whispers revived Elijah’s spirit for many more years of service and productivity. Years later, Elijah’s life ended, not in a glue factory, but in a blaze of glory.
We long for great encounters in our lives, for noble adventures, and for clear direction. But when the fight is gone and the divine voice is silent, it’s easy then to feel the abandonment of a holy and personal God, the absence of divine fellowship.
But if we listen carefully following the thunderous noise of our calamities, while we are still licking our wounds we will hear it too. Like Elijah, we will hear the unmistakable, audible whisper of God, gently and patiently letting us know he is in control, he has the resources for battle, we are not alone, and God is not finished with us yet.
Who wouldn’t enjoy that kind of God, who loves us so personally?
Whether God whispers or shouts in our pain is up to him. Our job is simply to keep listening.
Lord, still the beating of my heart and the bleeding of my wounds long enough for me to hear your voice. When you whisper, may I always receive it as “sweet somethings” in my ear.
What has God been whispering to you lately?¹
¹Rebecca Barlow Jordan, 40 Days in God’s Presence, (New York:Warner Faith, 2006).
That’s an excerpt from a book I wrote: 40 Days in God’s Presence. Feel free to check it out. I pray it will bless you!
Most of us have felt that sense of “Where are you, God?” at one time or another. But God hasn’t disappeared. He never leaves us all alone. Just as He whispered to Elijah in one of the prophet’s most exhausting and depressive moments, He speaks to us in the depths of our soul if we will be still and truly listen. Most often for us, it’s in the Spirit’s impressions to us as we read God’s Word. He is a creative God, and He speaks differently to each of us, but never contrary to His Word.
Will you join me today as we simply be still, and know that He is God? (Psalm 46:10) I’m praying for you today!
It’s Your Turn
Has God been whispering to you through His Word recently? Are you longing to hear from Him? I love to hear from readers. You can always write me through my contact page. Just fill out the basic name and address info, and then the email will come to me. Your name or info will never be shared with anyone without your permission.
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