I’m many of us share the experience of being woken abruptly by the almighty sound of thunder and the unmistakable flashes of lighting. It is at moments like this when I stand in awe of the awesome power of nature. I recall many years ago sitting on a beach with my Mother and Sister admiring the crashing waves, feeling the spray on our faces, observing the swirling sky and experiencing the sound of thunder. I remember though, being shocked as a lighting bolt struck the beach just 20 meters away from where we were sitting. In that moment my sense of awe turned into respect and fear as we scrabbled off the beach to safety.
“Lightning bolts, burning bushes, seas parting and heavens being opened; they hope to see God at work and become convinced.”
It occurs to me that many people secretly hope for an experience like this when it comes to faith. Indeed, many of the people we come into contact with are eager to hear about where to find God. In their minds they have images of lightning bolts, burning bushes, seas parting and heavens being opened; they hope to see God at work and become convinced. All too many times I’ve heard people ask for a sign, for something miraculous, for evidential proof of God almighty. I remember an old colleague telling me that if he saw God reveal Himself in a miraculous way he would believe. I don’t believe he would have, in the same way I didn’t when the lightning struck the beach near me. For some people these “Damascus road” moments are sought after and longed for. Perhaps like Paul we would like to hear Jesus speak to us from heaven, or like Martin Luther have lightning strike near us and change our lives, but so often this isn’t our testimony. So what do we say, God is dead?
“If we truly wish to hear from God, we need to make space for silence – to hear His ‘low whisper'”
Consider the life of Elijah; few people have seen so many wonders of the Lord, no-one else has seen answer to prayer in the form of fire falling from heaven – but for all this, Elijah’s faith still crumbled. To restore it, God took him to a cave at mount Horeb and before him came a strong wind that tore the mountain apart, following this came a mighty earthquake that shook the earth, and then there came a great fire that scorched the mountain, and for all this power and wonder displayed, God was in none of it (1 Kings 19:9-18). Instead we read that God came to Him in the “sound of a low whisper” (1 Kings 19:12). Some of us, like Elijah, may live to see great works of power in our lives. It is right that we should long for this as these moment really do build our faith, but we shouldn’t expect this to be the norm. Instead, if we truly wish to hear from God, we need to make space for silence – to hear His “low whisper”. Never before has this been so difficult in our age of distraction, but never before has this been so vital. I encourage you to make the time, carve it out, guard it and cherish it for, like Elijah, the “low whisper” of God has the power to change lives – not only for us, but also for the world around us.