“And after the fire, there was the sound of a gentle whisper.” 1 Kings 19:12b
Many times, we long for God to smack us in the face with opportunity. Many times, we fall short of doing what he asks when opportunity does smack us in the face. And many times still, when opportunity arises and God speaks in a way that doesn’t necessarily smack us in the face, we are quick to brush it away and take it for granted – even ignore it altogether. The truth is, God doesn’t always come to us in the form of a fantastical production. God seeks us out in the gentlest of ways in times when we need it most. And the best part about this? He never gives up on us.
Look at Elijah’s story. After one of the greatest successes of his career in ministry, Elijah hit his greatest bout of inner turmoil. He felt helpless. He had proven the glory of God to an entire population of people only to find out that there was a price for his head as a result. Needless to say, he fled the scene, knowing his life was sure to be over. God presented him with several messengers along the way. (Note: The messengers used to speak to Elijah were not necessarily paranormal – God often used human beings to provide words of encouragement. Sound familiar?) Even when Elijah had given up on God, God did not give up on Elijah. God had sought Elijah out several times in the gentlest of ways. Though Elijah responded negatively to several of God’s initial acts, he was ultimately brought to faith in the gentlest of ways.
“As Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 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 19:11b-13
God didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. He was not present in any of the natural disasters. He didn’t show off. There was no production, no extraordinary miracle. There was simply a quiet sound. All Elijah had to do was listen, and he came to God with his heart open.
I currently have an internship in which I work with a medical doctor from Ghana to perform surgeries on animal models. (The end goal is to essentially develop research that finds improved treatment for ALS patients.) Typically, he goes to work on the rats, and I observe and monitor the surgeries while documenting important information throughout the process; very few non-work-related conversations are exchanged between us. During one workday, I felt particularly stressed and disgruntled about the general hassles that we all encounter in life. I felt like I needed to break the barrier with the doctor. Small talk eventually turned into conversation about the experience of how he came to America. I noticed that he used the word “blessing” to describe this. He asked about my faith, and I told him I was a Christian. Immediately, my heart sang. How wonderful to find a coworker who shares faith in God! He went on to share simple, encouraging aspects of his faith that really spoke to my heart. A messenger. God gently intervened when I needed it most.
“Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him." – 1 Kings 19:18
God wants us to know that we can each become one of the messengers. All of us are capable of showing the grace of God to those around us through everyday miracles.
We sometimes expect or hope that our all-powerful God will do showy things to prove himself or part the oceans weekly as we ask for miracles. I mean, he’s that powerful, right? He could easily do something like this to get the attention of doubters. But he wants us to come to him with hearts longing. He wants our voluntary love. (What good is forced worship?) And oftentimes, the most powerful experiences happen so subtly.
Who have been the messengers in your life? Have you missed out on subtle interventions? Has God used you as a messenger for someone else? If not, how can you become a messenger? By tuning our hearts to the presence of small miracles, we begin to comprehend how active God is in each of our lives, each and every day, unconditionally walking alongside us.
Haley Welch, Student President of Impact at IUPUI