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 19:11-12
In the aftermath of the titanic battle at Carmel, when God sent fire on the sacrifice to demonstrate that he alone is God, Elijah goes from his highest high to his lowest low. Discouraged by Jezebel’s opposition and afraid for his life, he flees into the wilderness. He journeys 40 days to Horeb, also known as Sinai, the mountain of God.
God meets Elijah there. God sends a fierce wind, but he is not in the wind. Next God sends an earthquake, but he is not in the earthquake. Then God sends a fire, but he is not in the fire. Finally God speaks to Elijah with a whisper.
God certainly could have spoken to Elijah in the powerful wind, or in the fearsome earthquake, or in the consuming fire. But he chose to speak to Elijah with a whisper. A gentle and soft whisper.
It’s hard to hear a whisper. Especially if you’re talking, busy, or hurrying. It’s hard to hear a whisper if you spend the entire day with no silence in your life, if there is always a radio, a TV, a CD, or a person right there with you.
Solitude. Silence. Stillness. Quiet. We in the West aren’t so good at these. We don’t tend to value these so much. We are active go-getters, can-do folks, people on the move. We live our lives immersed in an atmosphere of noise, music, and talking.
But there’s the whisper. God talking to our hearts and giving us advice, guidance, and assurance.
Some of us, myself included, aren’t so good at listening to God. We think prayer is all about talking to God, but talking to God is just part of prayer. There’s also a time to be quiet and still before God, and hear the whisper.