And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks 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 the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” ~ 1 Kings 19:11-13
Since returning to the States, I have had the opportunity to see some really cool bands in concert.
As a musician, I really enjoy seeing musicians perform on stage in front of their fans.
But I worry about their ears. Without fail, I have left every concert with ringing in my ears (and permanently damaged cochlear cells), so I cannot imagine what the musicians must be doing to their ears each night.
Worried about my own hearing loss, I left a concert the other night and quickly consulted a reference textbook to learn more about hearing loss.
According to OSHA (The Occupational Safety and Health Administration), the human ear hears up to 100 decibels (dBA) of sound at a rock concert;
on any eight-hour day, to avoid hearing damage the noise level in the work place should not exceed 90 dBA.
And some headphones provide even more sound than this.
Needless to say, to think that we have enough noise in our lives to damage our hearing was pretty startling.
When you think of God, the first depiction that comes to mind is probably not “Gentle Whisperer.”
We like to think of God as an all-mighty, all-knowing God who created the universe in seven days and who is able to do all things.
But there is much to be said about the more docile component of His complex character:
In his book Seeing and Savoring Jesus, John Piper explains how Jesus is described as a lamb-like Lion, meek and gentle in humility (Matthew 11:28-29) as well as a lion-like Lamb, full of glory and demanding authority (Revelation 6:16).
During Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit was described as “descending like a dove” on Jesus (Matthew 3:13-17).
Elijah even experienced the gentle whisper of God the Father in the crack of a mountain in the book of 1 Kings.
While I was in Tanzania, I spent a lot of time in quiet.
The compound was not surrounded by any major roads. The nearby roads were not plagued with much traffic or travel activities.
In fact, most mornings I woke up to the sound of the children walking to the river to gather water or the shed to gather tools for the day.
As I went to bed most evenings, I could hear birds stirring outside of our window as they rustled together pieces of bark and twigs to build a nest before sunrise.
It was in these moments that I was able to pray in peace and really discern what Gods direction was for my life.
It occurred to me then that I had been living with too much noise in my life.
Maybe not enough to cause hearing loss, but certainly enough to distract me from the quiet whisper of God.
God does not always choose to reveal Himself to us in grandiose displays of splendor.
He rather chooses to meet us in a gentle whisper; as the prophet Zephaniah describes, “not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts,” the same Holy Spirit that descended on Jesus like a dove (Zephaniah 4:6).
How much noise is in your life?
Are you so busy that you haven’t been able to hear the gentle whisper of God?
People hate silence, that is pretty well understood.
It is easy and comfortable to keep our lives busy so we hide the demons that are otherwise exposed.
We are not reticent of our fears (the unknown, rejection, getting caught, punishment, failure, etc.) when we are preoccupied with life’s happenings.
But think about the noise in our lives that might be hindering us from approaching God intimately in His quiet.
It gives you a whole new spin on “quiet time” doesn’t it?
We have to remember that God is willing and able to wheedle through the noise in our lives to search our hearts (Jeremiah 17:10).
As Matt Redman teaches us in The Unquenchable Worshipper: “[God] might watch the show, but He’s much more concerned with what’s going on backstage.”
The question, then, is: are we able to silence this noise to meet him?
“Quietude, which some men cannot abide because it reveals their inward poverty, is as a palace of cedar to the wise, for along its hallowed courts the King in his beauty deigns to walk.” ~ Charles H. Spurgeon