In his book Money Enough, author Douglas Hicks references 1 Kings 19, the familiar story of the prophet Elijah, harassed by Queen Jezebel and her thugs, who flees to the wilderness wanting to give up and die. While there he is visited by an angel who gives him food and water. The angel sends him on a 40 day/40 night journey to Mt Horeb, where he sleeps in a cave. When awakened, he is honest with God about his feelings, his exhaustion, and his bleak situation.
(1 Kings 19:11-13)
Can you relate to Elijah? Are you feeling exhausted, harassed, betrayed by those you have faithfully served, with your hard work producing seemingly empty results? Are there moments when you are tempted to throw up your hands and say, “This is more than I can bear! Take me now, Lord.”? Do you wait in vain for some dramatic expression of counsel from the Lord – something akin to a hurricane, earthquake or fire?
Hicks stresses that we must also be available when God reaches out to us using His “still small voice”. But how can we do that in a world where commercial noise surrounds us, robbing us of quiet? What must happen so we can “be in silence” and hear God’s gentle whisper?
Take a moment to listen to the sound of your environment.
Right now, I hear a neighbor’s gas-powered lawn mower engine, my attic fan, the whir of my refrigerator, a garbage truck, and the sound of a car driving by. I tried listening at 2:30 this morning. I heard crickets, wind chimes, a neighbor’s air conditioning unit, train whistles, and traffic on I-84. These were unlike the daytime noises; they were quieter, less assaultive to my ears. But even in the wee small hours of the morning, it isn’t truly quiet where I live.
We do want to hear God, and how each individual successfully gets to that “quiet place” will vary. Some suggestions…
Turn off the extra noise in your home (TV, radio) for a few minutes
Sit outdoors in the early morning
Go to the mountains, desert or ocean
Play “white noise” (intentional benign background sounds of a fan, wind, ocean waves, gentle rain) or play “pink noise” (sounds of steady rain, rustling leaves, heartbeats)
I look forward to grouse hunting next month. I ride in a UTV with my children and their hunting dogs, at 6800’ elevation, above Hells Canyon on the Idaho side. They park me in a grove of aspen trees, then take off walking with their dogs and shotguns. I love to meditate, hearing only the rustling of the leaves. Ultimately, they flush some grouse, and it gets noisy again – the shotgun blasts, the rushing of dogs through the brush, hot on a retrieve.
That’s reality, right?! Most often, all we can capture is just small doses of silence. In these, we are truly refreshed by God’s still small voice, but then we catapult back into the cacophony of daily living. How essential, though, to frequently seek out those brief silent moments and hear the voice of God.
Lord, help me take time to find moments of silence in my life, so I can hear you speaking to me in your still small voice. Amen.
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Your inspired words are so very true. Thank you, Penelope. These incremental quiet moments, listening for God’s still small voice, are my lifeline.