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January 16, 2022 | Doug Sauder
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“And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.”—1 Kings 19:12–13 (NLT)
One Sunday morning after church, I lamented to a friend, “I can’t understand what God is doing.”
I was drained and confused. I thought that after following Christ for more than a dozen years, I would have Him figured out. But compared to the way I would do things, God’s ways seemed upside-down, backwards, and head-over-heels mysterious.
Fast forward twenty years. I now have one certainty I can bank on: God deals in mystery, obscurity, and in murky areas that are too convoluted to discern. His thoughts are so far above ours that trying to understand or explain them are exercises in futility.
Elijah, an Old Testament prophet, got a first-hand glimpse of this when he was waiting to hear from God. Elijah had done all the right things, but his life was spiraling out of control. All the other prophets of God had been killed, and his name was next on the list. Terrified, Elijah fled. While on the run, Elijah spilled out his complaints to God. And God answered, but in an unexpected way.
The Bible says there were three natural disasters: First, there was a windstorm, and it was so powerful that rocks broke loose from the mountain. But the Lord wasn’t in the wind. Then there was an earthquake, but the Lord wasn’t in the earthquake either. Next there was a fire, but again, God wasn’t there.
Now, if I was God and had all the power of the universe at my fingertips, I would like to speak through big, commanding demonstrations. But God’s ways are not my ways or your ways. Instead of using a natural disaster, He spoke to Elijah in a gentle whisper. A still, small voice. Barely audible. Elijah had to really be listening—ready to hear God’s voice. He had to know God’s voice. He had to be still in the face of calamity all around him.
There’s a lot of chaos in our world today, and many people are waiting on God to give them direction or encouragement. But just like in the time of Elijah—and even during the time surrounding Jesus’ birth to a young girl in an obscure location—God works in unexpected ways. So put on your listening cap and be ready to hear from Him.
DIG: Read 1 Kings Chapter 19.
DISCOVER: How have you seen God work in your life? How does He generally communicate with you?
DISPLAY: Listen for God’s voice in unexpected circumstances today.