The world is full of so many voices. The advent of social media has amplified and multiplied these voices so that now they are constantly screaming at us at deafening levels.
The question we raise this week, during our second week on prayer in A Deep Life, is this: How can we listen to God? How can we know which voice is God’s voice in the maelstrom of competing voices?
We can learn something about this from our key text in 1 Kings 19:9-13. Elijah was a prophet of God. He was sent to speak truth to the corrupt King of Israel—Ahab—and his wife Jezebel. Their reign was violent. Bloodshed and war tore the countryside apart. Elijah was sent to confront the throne and the prophets of Baal who had taken over the country. Read about the spectacular showdown in 1 Kings 18:20-39. Yet, even after Elijah’s victory, Queen Jezebel ordered his execution.
Elijah ran for his life for 40 days through wilderness, hunted like an animal. He took refuge on Mt. Horeb, the same mountain where Moses encountered Yahweh, and hid there, terrified and feeling defeated. God told him to step outside. There was a great whirlwind, a great earthquake, and a great fire, but God’s voice was not in these things.
Then there was silence.
Notice something important. The text does not say that God’s voice was in the silence. It says that there was “the sound of sheer silence.” Then a voice spoke to Elijah.
What does this mean?
I think that, in that context, it told Elijah that God was not in all the violence that the country had been experiencing. God is not about all that noise. The silence invited Elijah to take a deep breath and refocus. The rest of the story tells us that God reassured Elijah that he was not alone and did not strive in vain.
This story has a great message for us today. The tsunami of voices overwhelm us. We are caught in the whirlwind of voices and world views, twisting every which way and upside down. We are shaken by the deconstruction, paradigm shifts, and the violence that inevitably ensues. We are scorched by the fire of hatred and war.
And we are tired and afraid.
God invites us to unplug. Take a deep breath. Listen for the still, small voice.