There is a Biblical account of Elijah in 1 Kings 19 that recounts a time where Elijah fled in fear of his life to a cave in the wilderness. He was stressed, overwhelmed, and likely disillusioned about the reality of his circumstances, allowing the cares of this world to undermine his faith.
When Elijah was ready to die, God called him to "stand on the mountain before God." In that moment, God caused a powerful wind, strong enough to crumble rocks, and an earthquake, and fires to erupt in front of Elijah; God's power on display for Elijah to see and to reset the fear of the Lord in his soul.
A few things stand out in this sequence of events. The first is that Elijah presumes that he is all alone (verse 10). Somehow, even with Elijah's first hand experience, interaction, and intimacy with the Creator of the universe, he think's he is alone. And so God has to remind him, with great power, that He is still with Elijah. And not only that, later in verse 18, God tells Elijah that He has reserved 7,000 other faithful souls for His cause. God wants to remind us today that we are not alone. He is with us, and He has reserved a multitude more to stand alongside us when all else seems lost.
Secondly, when God asked Elijah to stand on the mountain, I was prompted to ask what was it that Elijah saw from his viewpoint. I believe, that as Elijah stood atop the mountain, he saw how small his earthly concerns and fears were when set in contrast to the backdrop relative to God's creative power. When we're face to face with the enemy, the dust of spiritual combat can cloud our understanding of God's true nature. When we stand back and see the big picture, suddenly the enemy looks very small when we "stand on the mountain before God." Maybe for us all, and at the least for me, God is asking us to stand before Him and re-set our perspective; to dust ourselves off and to see how small our enemy is and how faithful our God is!
Thirdly, it is a profound example of God's grace that He sought after Elijah when he was down and hurting, asking for death. He lifts Elijah up, encourages him, but then calls down His wrath in the form of wind, earthquakes, and fire - elements of judgement. And while this may seem extreme, He is putting His judgement on display for Elijah without requiring him to experience it. God protects Elijah from the destruction, shaking, and heat. It's as if God is reaching out to Elijah saying, "I know this is tough and not everything is going according to YOUR plan. But it is going according to MY plan! Get up! Get out of this cave! Enough of your social distancing! Come see what I can still do. We don't have time to waste, sulking in our fear and depression. Grab the mantle, the calling I have given you and get back to work, the real work I have given you." This almighty God is pursuing us today and is putting on display His power for us to see . . . to reset our soul-perspective as to whom we serve and what exactly He has called us to do; who He has called us to be. But because of Jesus, we never will experience the wrath of His judgement.
The last incredible element to this story that stood out to me, is that in the midst of this earth shattering display of power, the text clearly states that "the Lord was not in the wind/earthquake/fire". And then, in verse 12, it says, "after the fire, a still, small voice." Some versions say, "a gentle and quiet whisper." We can take this verbiage a few directions. It's easy for us as Christ followers to trust and know that God can work in huge, powerful ways, and maybe sometimes we are thinking to ourselves that God should just come down and zap evil away; shake it to the ground, blow it out of the water, burn it down! But more often than not, God allows our obstacles to remain, wanting us to follow His gentle leading as He helps us and grows us through the trials. It's through this process, of listening to His voice . . . even in the midst of the shaking, that He navigates us into maturity. Secondly, the text says "after the fire, a still small voice." We can all agree that our world is on fire right now. And so it is now, maybe more than ever, when God will be speaking to us. "After the fire, a still, small voice." What a promise! Let's, all of us, be listening for His voice; seek it out! Especially in the quiet places of our lives.
Written by: Josh Burlingame