A Still Small Voice

Elijah-still-small-voiceI have always liked a passage from 1 Kings 19. The prophet Elijah is on the run from the wrath of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel who mean to take his life. The prophet has taken refuge in a cave in Judean wilderness, feels as though he has failed in his mission, is isolated and alone, while all the forces array against him. He calls out to God.

It is a passage that we all can connect with in some measure. Some have been through the caldron of life; others are simply caught up in the whirlwind of everyday life. But in all times and places, we are a people whose mission is to find the voice of God in our lives. So, take a moment and consider this: when and where are you intentional about seeking the voice of God in your life?

Here is Elijah’s encounter with God on that particular day:

11 Then the LORD said, “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by.” A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD—but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake—but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake there was fire—but the LORD was not in the fire. After the fire there was a qôl demā-mā dăq-qā.

There are lots of ways to translate that final Hebrew phrase, qôl demā-mā dăq-qā, literally voice-calm-small, or perhaps, “still, small voice.”

I love that imagery: God’s living Word speaking into the world in a calming, small voice. But that also raises a challenge. How do we make the space in our busy lives to hear that still, small voice of God speaking into the world and into our lives? It would be great to always have time for retreats or pilgrimages – but those are special events. It would be great to have an hour of silence every day. That is possible, but I suspect many would read this and wonder where it would possible fit into an already scheduled day.

One of the life-lessons from my days on submarines is that each day consists of many interstitial moments, those small measures of time between one event and the next. At first I used those moments for quick naps, but eventually came to find solitude and quiet even among the whirl of main propulsion engines. The time is fleeting, yet quite substantial if only well used. The time is there during the walk to your next meeting, during a ride on the elevator, a moment stuck on I-275, a pause waiting for the washer to finish the spin cycle, or during a walk in one of the alleyways in Assisi. The still, small voice of God awaits. Make the space and time to listen well.

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