“…and after the fire came a gentle whisper.
When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face
and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’”
– 1 Kings 19:12 (NIV) –
Life is filled with noise…loud and obnoxious noise. Sometimes that noise comes from world events, sometimes it comes from people, and often, it comes from within ourselves. Personal fears can scream to us at a level that very easily drowns out everything else around us. We can become eerily fixated on the level of the noise, desperately distracted and searching for something of solace amid the fury of high decibel pandemonium. It’s not uncommon. We need someone to scream some instruction to our weary soul, a voice of confident reason to penetrate through the depths of the noise.
If you read 1 Kings 19, you will find a very weary and disoriented Elijah, a man of God fleeing the evil threat that Jezebel has made on his life. He’s on the run. He left without food or water, at one point, he leaves his servant behind, escapes to the wilderness, and prays to God for death.
Strangely enough, this is the current behavior of a man who had just boldly and successfully confronted 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah on Mount Carmel. He called for all of Israel to meet them there to observe the power of Almighty God. Elijah was so confident in the power of God that he even taunted the prophets of Baal and Asherah. He was bold, full of faith and trust in God, and he knew that God was with him. As the story on Mount Carmel draws to a close, the power of God is manifested to everyone, and they all cry, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!” Shortly after, Elijah orders the execution of the 850 prophets. God wins. All is good, and Elijah’s faith grows even deeper in God’s provision…right? Wrong.
When Jezebel hears this news, she sends Elijah a message threatening his life. Noise. She's coming for him. Elijah knows that she’s killed before, and he dismisses the confidence of faith that he has just had magnificently confirmed on Mount Carmel, and he replaces it with crippling fear…and he runs. He’s distracted by the noise, but he will soon meet with God who knows the fearful state of his situation and chooses to speak to him through a gentle whisper.
Life, health, politics, finances, people…they all generate noise in our life, and often, we hear the noise, become fixated by it, lose our grip on faith, and begin the process of trying to outrun the things that vex us. Somewhere amid the fray of it all, we would hope that God would scream out a little instruction to us…what to do, where to go? But there’s often no screams from God, and we are left trying to sort through the circumstances alone…or so we think.
My friends, God is always there. Sometimes He speaks to us in ways that are easily perceived. In Scripture, God speaks dynamically, announcing His presence through an earthquake (Exodus 19:18). In 1 Samuel, Job, Psalm, and John, we find God’s voice compared to thunder. In Job 38:1, God speaks through a whirlwind. But in 1 Kings 19, we find God whispering in a “still small voice”…the glorious, majestic, sovereign God of all whispering in hushed tones to His child in distress.
In the middle of chaos and uncertainty, are we listening for the gentle whisper of God?
Could the possibly exist that God is speaking to us in a manner that is not as noticeable as an earthquake or thunder? In the midst of our flight from the noise of life, could the pounding of our feet, running on the ground beneath us, be sufficient enough to muffle the gentle whisper of God who is desperately seeking our attention?
Let’s remember that God has the capability to speak to us in any manner that He so desires. Whether it be through thunder, or in a whisper, one thing is certain, we must be able to discern the voice of our Lord, and we must be listening. Just like a child who can recognize their parents voice over the noise of a crowd, we must be familiar enough with the voice of God to hear when He’s speaking…and even when He’s whispering.
John 10:27 says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
We should always be listening for God’s voice…specifically the gentle whispers of instruction and love that I feel flow constantly from the mouth of God to the ears of His beloved children. I’ve found that God speaks to me gently on most occasions. That’s almost never my preference, but it’s most always the case. I would prefer bold, obvious, and loud instruction…something to immediately grab me from my distraction. But still, God so often chooses to whisper.
Those gentle moments of whispered instruction can be hard to discern, but, when I do notice them, I find a refreshed intimacy with God based on how He chooses to communicate with me. He’s not yelling; instead, He’s talking to me with intentional gentleness in the midst of my chaotic mind. He’s not frustrated nor afraid. He’s not overreacting. He’s simply, and purposefully, whispering a calm to His child.
Deuteronomy 31:6, says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
Isaiah 30:21 says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
Wherever we go, whether it be to the right of left, God is always there. He will never leave us nor will He forsake those He loves, but, know this, He won’t always scream instructions to us like an overzealous coach. We must listen, and we must know who to listen for. In the middle of the loud noise of life, be sure to listen intently for the gentle and often hushed voice of God. In those situations, His voice can only be heard by those who know His voice and are paying attention. Our life is lived among the gentle whispers of God. Know His voice.
Keith Beatty is a Worship, Missions and Media Pastor living in North Alabama. He's excited and very humbled to be a follower of Jesus Christ!