When it comes to important decision making, don’t you long for a neon sign from God? At a pretty big crossroads recently, I found myself asking for a lightning bolt from him. I had been praying for weeks for a powerful sense of the Spirit’s prompting, something dramatic upon which I could always look back and say yes, without a doubt, God led us this way. But in his hallmark fashion, God answered my prayer differently than I expected.
Instead of a clear sign I began to feel a subtle peace about veering left at the amoral fork in the road. I let God know that he was going to have to speak more loudly than that, however. Did I mention this was a big decision? I needed more than a measly sense of peace. I kept praying, eyes and ears pealed, and yet the skies of my spiritual landscape remained clear. It was annoying. What I was feeling was gentle. Constant and growing but gentle. Someone wiser than me asked, “How does God usually speak to you?” I had to admit that he doesn’t usually lead me through dramatic signs. I have experienced some of those, but rarely when seeking them and rarely around big decisions. As the clock ticked and I had nothing but that gentle peace, my mind went to Elijah on Mount Horeb. I turned to 1 Kings 19.
Elijah has just come from a very dramatic, unmistakable experience with God. He has called down fire from heaven, humiliating and executing the prophets of Baal, and has fled to the mountains knowing he’ll be hunted by Jezebel’s henchmen. The mighty prophet is exhausted and dejected, believing he is the only righteous man left in Israel. God meets him there and speaks: “Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” A mighty wind gusts through, splitting rocks and likely inciting terror in Elijah, but the Lord is not in the wind. After the wind comes an earthquake, but the Lord is not in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire, but the Lord is not in the fire. After the fire comes the sound of a gentle blowing. Those two words, “gentle blowing,” pierced my heart. Other translations render the phrase, “still, small voice,” “soft whisper,” or “sheer silence.” Whatever it was, God was in it and Elijah recognized him despite his history of experiencing the Almighty in more sensational ways. In that gentle blowing God tuned Elijah’s ear more finely to his Spirit, meeting his needs and laying out plans for the future. I had a pretty clear indication that God was speaking to me in this way, too. His peace was sufficient.
I wonder if part of trusting God with everything means even the way he speaks to us. Are you accustomed to hearing from him in one particular way? Through his word, through his providential arranging of circumstances, through that still, small voice in your own spirit? It seems to me as though he likes to mix up the way he communicates with us, as he did with Elijah. Perhaps it’s a necessity because we so love to make idols of everything, even our experiences with him. Going forward, I’m going to ask for whatever I need to know his will and trust what comes, be it wind storm, fire, or a whisper of peace. Now that I’ve accepted it, that peace feels mighty firm beneath my feet.
“Lead me to a rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61:2)
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)