This is Pastor Tim’s article that appeared in the Evening Leader on Monday, June 8, 2020
I think that it goes without saying that the past few weeks have been very difficult. On top of the COVID-19 threat and shutdown, we also had a funeral for Shelby Jacobs, and her loss has made this whole community a less colorful place. Watching the news is an exercise in depression in that people are rioting and looting for reasons that many of us struggle to understand. There is so much brokenness and division, pain and suffering that it is hard to find anything positive to focus on. Even some of the average reasons to be happy have been taken from us with the cancellation of basically anything fun. Honestly, the highlight of my last few weeks has been watching them raise and lower the curtain on the water tower for the painting project.
Many of us are scratching our heads and wondering where all the hope went. What happened to it? I used to feel it, I used to live it. But now it seems far away.
In light of all that is going on, I want to offer you a word from God’s Word. 1 Kings 19: 11-13 is the story of Elijah. He is running for his life from a group of people who wanted to kill him. He was hiding in a cave one night when God told him to go stand at the mouth of the cave. As he did, a calamity passes by the outside of the cave. A windstorm that was so powerful that it split rocks in two and caused incredible destruction. But when Elijah looked, he did not find God’s voice in the windstorm. The wind died down and then a violent earthquake happened that shook the earth to the very foundation. But Elijah did not hear God in the earthquake either. After the earthquake, there was a fire that burned the mountain top where he was, but God was not even in the fire.
But once all of this noise subsided, there was the sound of what some translations call a “gentle whisper.” It was a peaceful and quiet sound and Elijah immediately knew that sound to be God. So he covered his face and stepped out of the cave to hear what God had to say to him.
It almost feels like we are living in a state of perpetual natural disaster these days. Wind, Earth and Fire are destroying all around us and making incredible amounts of noise while distracting us from anything that is valuable. We are living in a time of passing calamity.
Ever since I was a child, I have always wondered about this passage. Was the whisper there the whole time? Was God’s whisper to Elijah there the whole time but just drowned out by the incredible noise of the catastrophe happening all around him? Elijah stood at the mouth of the cave through the entire catastrophe until everything settled and he could hear the whisper of God. A whisper that I contend had been there the whole time.
Elijah was told to step to the mouth of the cave, had he have stepped away because of the catastrophe, he would have not been able to hear the whisper from deep within the cave. Had he retreated because of his fear of what was going on, he would not have been able to hear the whisper when it all died down. Elijah had to stand through the storm in order to get to the calm, but God’s voice was always there. Elijah just had to wait out the catastrophe to get to the Truth.
Right now, we have plenty of distraction going on all around us. We may not be able to hear God’s gentle whisper, but I believe in my heart it is there. That whisper is going to outlast this catastrophe, we just need to stand firm until this catastrophe runs out of wind. At the end, we will be standing long after the catastrophe subsides and then we will be able to hear God’s gentle whisper. We just need to wait out the storm.
If you are looking for encouragement in the face of the storm, we have a number of local churches in town who would love to connect with you where you would be welcome to stand with us through this time of catastrophe so we can hear God’s gentle whisper together.