Thursday, November 16, 2006

Extreme Encounters | The Audible Pressence of God

The story of Elijah gives a lot of food for thought. Elijah was one of God’s fighters. He was a good guy, with his head straight on his shoulders, a heart burning for God, and the strength of will to follow what his Lord commanded. In an act of obedience, he challenged his king on the very tender and sensitive issue of idol worship, won a mighty victory for God, and watched all of Israel back him up in his fight against the idol-prophets. This was a victory by fire, and God was in that fire.

Shortly after, the Lord restored rain to Israel after a three-year drought with a mighty storm, and God gave Elijah the strength to run faster than the king’s chariot. These where victories by wind, and God was in the wind.

Elijah receives a death-threat from Queen Jezebel, who instigated all of the idol-worship in the first place. In fear for his life, he runs away and hides in the desert, is fed by angels, and travels on to Horeb, the Mountain of God, the place where Moses had his "extreme encounters" with the Maker of the Universe (Ex. 3-4; Deut. 4:9-14). In Exodus 19 when Moses received the Law of God, there where thunders and lightenings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, and the mountain was wrapped in smoke and trembled greatly. And God was in this earthquake and thunder.

There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" He said, "I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, thrown down Your alters, and killed Your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away." And He said, "Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord." —1 Kings 19:9-11a

When Elijah went to Mount Horeb, he expected to encounter God. From his past experiences, and from what he knew of the character and person of Jehovah God, he expected the Lord to appear as He had in the past. 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. Elijah knew the God of fire, and wind, and a great earthquake. Yet God was not in any of these things. Instead, He revealed Himself in the sound of a low whisper, a still small voice, the sound of sheer silence, "the audible presence of God." This was an extreme encounter, one that Elijah was not expecting, was not looking for, and didn’t know how to comprehend. It shocked his reality, and left him changed.

There are many times when I go about looking for a "mountaintop experience" where God reveals Himself to me as He has before. I search for the "supernatural hand of God" to show up in places that I expect— an surprising gift of money in response to a prayer for needed funds; a sudden change of heart in a person who was once antagonistic; a sense of mysterious peace in the midst of a personal storm; a special little gift left on my pillow from a sibling who wronged me and is now repentant. This is not to say that God can’t work through these means. He has often showed Himself to me in the very ways mentioned. But sometimes in my fervent search for God’s working in just such ways, I overlook the fact that He doesn’t always do what I expect.

O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. Yet You are holy… —Psalm 22:2-3a

God has spoken in His holiness: I will rejoice… —Psalm 60:6

Sometimes the "supernatural hand of God" isn’t the calm in the midst of the storm, but rather the storm itself. My sincerest desire is to come to the point where I recognize my very life as a supernatural work of God, to know God as He is, and never try to create Him where He is not. Sometimes His work surprises His children because we expect God’s hand to look like ours. But our God cannot always be understood. C. S. Lewis writes that, "He’s not a tame lion…" "No," replies Lucy, "but He’s good."


Under God's Construction said...

Hello Sarah! Thank you so much for the encouraging post. It was such a rich and full read for me. I love how God provides exactly what I need to hear!
Serving the King together,
2 Thess. 1:11-12

Brittany said...

You are so right- often God doesn't show Himself to us in the way we expect. But it's always in a better, richer way! And always in the way we need Him.
:) Thanks for sharing.