At that place he came to a cave and spent the night there. Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts, for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I am left alone, and they are seeking my life, to take away.” He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces 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 a sound of sheer silence.
Here again, we have a man of God going through the wilderness experience. He was pursued and he knew that he was in grave danger therefore he ran and hid in the wilderness. Nothing can be more threatening than to receive the message that someone powerful is after your head! Elijah hid in the caves among the mountains lest he be found by Jezebel. That was the time when he heard God’s searching voice like a parent to their children, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9). Elijah honestly responded to God feeling a bit neglected and angry that the people had forsaken God, and that he was afraid.
In the midst of despair and such tumultuous tension, the wilderness was where Elijah tried to seek refuge. But God’s searching voice made him realise where his presence could be found and how his voice could be heard. Not in the wind, nor among the earthquakes, or fire with which many of us might customarily associate God. But it was in a gently blowing breeze, a low whisper that Elijah could hear God’s presence. Elijah encountered the God who could break the cedars (Psalm 29), yet also who walks in the garden (Genesis 3). When God wants to relate to you, expect God not only among the thunderous experience, nor among the powerful but in the midst of a gentle breeze. You and I must truly be ready to listen and respond to the still small voice.
Lord, thank you for reminding me to be still and listen to your voice in sheer silence. Rather than seeking you among the thunderous, and powerful experiences help me to search and hear your still gentle voice in the midst of gentle silence. Help me to be a better listener for others so that when you call me with your searching voice Lord, I will not hide away but listen attentively and respond. Amen
Dr Bendanglemla Longkumer, Senior Lecturer in Theology and Ethics at Pacific Theological College in Fiji Islands, South Pacific