“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.” – 1 Kings 19:11-13.
Most people don’t like to wait. Part of our dislike for waiting is the culture we live in. Everyone everywhere is constantly looking for a more efficient way to do whatever they are doing. We want shorter lines when we are shopping. We want to spend less time in traffic. We need people to answer our email or text messages quickly so that we can move onto the next task. But while culture is seeking to minimize any need to wait, Christians sometimes need to wait.
In the 1 Kings 19 passage, the prophet Elijah had made an enemy of Queen Jezebel. Under threat of his life, he fled out to the wilderness. God told Elijah to go stand before Him on the mountain where God passed by. We don’t know how long the mighty windstorm lasted. Nor do we know how long it took for the earthquake to come and go. Ditto for the fire. We don’t know if it lasted for seconds, minutes, or days. But after all those powerful forces, something different happened: “And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.”
Is hearing the voice of God a ready-made formula that happens quickly? Or is it a commitment to be patient and wait on the Lord? In our culture, it is easy for our lives to get so cluttered and loud that we don’t hear the gentle whisper. Some of the greatest figures in the Bible — Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David — had to wait for many years for God’s promises. Something was happening while nothing was happening. Everything that happened in the meantime was used to prepare them, inwardly as well as outwardly.
Even when we can’t see what that long-term outcome is going to be, we can be sure that God has the perfect plan for our life and all we have to do is keep our mind and heart open to His voice and guidance, and then ask for patience and wisdom to embrace the waiting, and trust that God is on the case, even if we don’t specifically see anything happening at any given moment.
God asks each of us to look beyond ourselves. True trust begins by acknowledging God, His wisdom, and His ways, and then choosing to act on what we’ve acknowledged. Do I trust God enough to wait for Him?
- Have you experienced a situation when God was late that still doesn’t make sense? What’s it like to go through that?
- God’s delays are not God’s denials. Agree or disagree and why?