“And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a sound of a gentle whisper.” 1 Kings 19:12
Growing up I was pretty shy. My mom tried to put me in modeling but I hated it, mostly because I was so scared to be in front of people. Then in high school I started to come out of my shell publicly. My mom loves to tell this story of me. It was summertime and I was out with my friends but my mom wasn’t really sure what friend’s house I was at. She went outside and figured it out pretty quickly. I was across the street! How did she know that? She could hear my big mouth screaming and laughing amongst all the others! Jumping in the pool and cannonballing left and right. Not much has changed.
When I think of our world sometimes, I think loud. This earth is pretty flashy. It’s easy to get sucked into the next big anything. Right now, I can think of 100 different things that are begging for my attention. I’m sure you can conjure up a few distractions for yourself too. There are a lot of messages and a lot of people who want to speak into our ears.
As Christ followers, we know that we find our purpose, direction, and being in God. Although, sometimes when we are looking to hear from Him, we look to the big, the extravagant, or the loud to feel Him or know where He is leading us. But more often than not, God speaks to us in a gentle whisper and through small promptings.
1 Kings 19 focuses on Elijah. The long and short of it: Elijah is on the run trying to preserve his life. Ironically, Elijah just defeated his enemies (YAY). But after, he finds himself scared, depressed and not good enough (HUH?). Elijah, during his lowest of lows, comes to the end of his rope, sulking under a tree, needing to hear from God. Ever have a time where you were either distraught, upset, worried, confused or overwhelmed? Yeah, I get that. It’s in those moments that we search for comfort and peace, and long to hear God’s voice.
God speaks to Elijah; and if you have time to read the chapter, do it! First, there was a mighty windstorm that made rocks tumble, but the Lord was not in the wind. Then there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. Then there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. Then, after the fire, there was the sound of a gentle whisper. After all that, it was a gentle whisper that got Elijah’s attention. That’s how God spoke to him, directed him, and gave him what he needed to move forward.
We are surrounded by windstorms, earthquakes and fires, but sometimes, God is trying to get our attention by a gentle whisper. You may be looking for guidance from God. Have you tried finding him in the small and simple?
Our culture seems to be a bit uncomfortable with silence, stillness and quiet. Maybe that’s why it can be hard to hear Jesus sometimes. It’s countercultural. So how do we position ourselves to hear God’s voice so we don’t miss his whispers of direction and comfort? This is what I’ve been discovering:
- Realize that God’s voice is unique. Sometimes we’re so used to our busy lifestyles that we begin to expect God to speak to us just like everyone else does these days. But He’s God and much different than everyone else! He’s gracious to meet us where we’re at, and He can speak to us in unexpected places. Many of us seem to be looking for a big flashy sign to show us where to go or have someone else tell us what we should do… which leads me to my next point.
- God’s voice is found in his word. Why is it when something happens we run to everyone else but God’s word? I see you, shooting off that text to your best friend before you go to Jesus! I say that because I’ve done it before too! We’re looking for advice and neon signs but believe it or not, every answer you need is found in God’s word. So pick it up and use it to your advantage. Start somewhere. If you want to know more about yourself and what you need, learn more about God and what’s important to his heart. In him, you find “you” and build confidence in the direction He wants you to go. Becoming familiar with who He is will help you to discern His voice amongst the others.
- Cut out the clutter. There are things we obviously have to do in life, such as work, take care of your kids, food shop, shower (please shower), etc., but if we want to hear God’s whisper, we have to turn down, or flat out mute, other things in our lives. I’ve found that when I seek him first, everything else falls into place, one at a time. It seems backwards but it works. When you’re going out with a friend, your spouse or on a date, you’re intentional about setting up a time and planning out the day. You prepare yourself. You might even think about what you want to talk about! That’s what you do with relationships you want to foster and grow. So why do we treat God differently? We can be our own worst enemies. Carve out time to seek God and make him the top priority.
- Hold on tight to his promises, not your circumstances. God promises not to steer us wrong. We say we have faith, but sometimes our tight grip on our circumstances proves the opposite. When we focus on our problems, we take our focus off of Jesus, who is the fixer of our problems. There will be many moments when we will not understand why things pan out the way that they do. I have a few of my own, trust me. But if you listen to what God says in the stillness, you will have peace. When you hold on to his promises, you will have hope and the tenacity to keep going.
Think about it this way. In our loud and busy world, so many people have your ear, but only those close to you have your heart. Those who have your heart have your trust and love. Allow God to have your heart today. Look for his gentle whispers.