DISCLAIMER: I am well aware that during this time of pandemic not everyone has had spare time on their hands! I know that some have been overwhelmed with trying to juggle working at home and home schooling kids. I know that some of you are working harder than ever to hold down your jobs in ways that are safe for everyone, and that some of you are risking your lives caring for the sick. – BLESS YOU ALL! This post was written more for those who have found themselves isolated, bored, and restless, a perspective where we have an extraordinary opportunity to hear from God – an opportunity we should not be wasting. On the other hand, when our lives are busier than ever – when we would welcome some boredom – this is something we may need even more.
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the 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. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” I Kings 19:11-12
Elijah had prophesied a three-and-a-half-year drought for the rebellious nation of Israel. When the drought took place as predicted, the prophet spent three and a half years alone in the wilderness, hiding out from the evil and unrepentant Queen Jezebel, who was bent on killing him.
(You might say he was quarantined.)
During this time of isolation Elijah drank from a stream and was fed by ravens. The nineteenth chapter of I Kings describes the day the prophet heard from God. First he was assailed by all manner of natural disasters. Like special effects in a Hollywood blockbuster, a wind whipped through, powerful enough to split rocks, followed by an earthquake, then a fire. But it was only after these things had passed that Elijah heard the voice of God.
Today we have our own types of distractions, demands, interruptions, and crises coming from every direction, and sometimes it seems there is never a moment of quiet.
Until recently. Now for some of us our hyperactive minds have tended to think there’s been too much quiet, and reaching for a device to fill the void was almost an involuntary reflex. But as the quarantine continued and many have grown impatient, we have gone from filling the void to being bombarded by countless voices – opinions, rants, conspiracy theories, scandals, propaganda, trivia, and pointless chatter about every topic under the sun. How can staying “safe at home” feel so stressful? And how do we transition into the “new normal” without taking that extra stress with us?
Before turning on the noise again, let’s consider an alternative.
As abnormal as our present situation has felt, this lessening of daily demands may have been offering us an opportunity to hear a Voice we’ve possibly never heard before – a Voice well worth hearing.
Recently I came across this parable of a present-day “Elijah’s” experience that I wrote years ago. I wish I had found it a couple of months ago, but it’s still relevant – maybe more than when I wrote it – and it’s never too late to reevaluate our priorities and start making necessary changes. Check it out, and if the shoe fits, it just might be the last thing you’ll want to read on line today:
A young man was looking for God. He took his smartphone, read his text messages, checked his voicemail, and looked at his pictures. But the LORD was not in the smartphone.
He took his laptop and checked his emails, Facebook, and Twitter. But the LORD was not in the laptop.
He turned on the TV and checked the news, Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. But the LORD was not in the TV.
Finally, the young man turned off all technology and sat in silence. And in the silence, there came a still, small voice …
As we wait for our society to finish reopening, instead of regretting the boredom, quiet, and isolation, let’s take advantage of every moment of solitude and quiet, while we still have a chance. Let’s use this time to develop a good habit to take with us into the “new normal” – the habit of not only talking to God, but also listening for his Still, Small Voice.
OK, I gotta go. I think Someone’s trying to reach me …