“There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" He said, "I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away." And he said, "Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord." And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks 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 the sound of a low whisper.” (1 Kings 19: 9-12 ESV)
Do you ever fill an awkward silence with an unnecessary word? I want to learn how to let those moments fill themselves.
It's an odd thought, maybe. I just wonder what lies beneath the surface of those moments. I imagine that deep words have been left unspoken in lieu of conversation of trivial value, such as a constant concern of the weather or our interest in the many romances of Hollywood's best. I think we are quick to trade quality in for quantity.
I am a socially-unpolished person. When faced with a one-on-one challenge, my conversations are less than eloquent. I sometimes have difficulty forming words, let alone accomplishing a real interchange of intelligence. If you ask me a question, my syllables will scatter like a house of cards in the hands of a toddler. Thus, my moments of silence are often moments of forming intelligible words.
In light of this, I believe that when we step on silence, we often squelch the true hearts of matters. We have a fear of silence, so we abruptly stomp it out before it can be touched by air; are we afraid it will grow like fire?
One good friend taught me something about silence. In a fit of despair, I had taken refuge in my bed. When my friend called, I managed to tell her that I was in no mood to talk. "I'm on my way over." she said. "You don't have to talk." she assured.
My friend came and just sat there on the edge of my bed. She didn't need to utter a word. Silence. After a while, I was able to articulate my pain. My friend quietly sat and listened. She shared no words; she just shared my thoughts.
The great prophet, Elijah realized the significance of the hushed. In a moment of self- pity, he wanted to hear from God. He looked for God in "a great and strong wind." The violent gust tore rocks from the hills; imagine the roar and rumble as the rocks rolled down hill and mountain. God was not there.
Then Elijah experienced an earthquake. As the ground beneath him split apart, he must have felt the vibration while debris settled around his unstable feet. With his heart pounding, Elijah might have believed that his days on earth were over; his heartbeat paled in comparison with the noise that engulfed him. God was not there.
Next, Elijah looked for God in a fire. As it consumed the fallen trees, one can only surmise the fire's bellow as it joyfully increased in size. God did not show himself even in the rage of fire.
Finally, God spoke to Elijah in the midst of a "low whisper." He did not have to belch out His words to Elijah; His dear prophet had quieted himself enough to hear from the Creator King.
I often wish that God would speak to me like He spoke to Biblical prophets. I don't believe that I'm the only one who would like to hear the voice of God. Can you fathom that moment? I can barely conceive that kind of silence. After the growls of wind, earthquakes and fires, and then.... Nothing.
Nothing- except the low whisper of the God of the universe. Could any sound be as lovely?
As I sit here, longing to hear from Him, I am reminded of the Word of this same God. As I read, I can hear His loving voice as it moves from the page and whispers in my ear.