My sister Shaun and I are the Superintendents of the Needle Arts and Clothing building at the Pend Oreille County Fair. Chris retired and we inherited her job. So since last Wednesday, I have been spending a lot of time at the fair and I will be heading back there as soon as service is over. So I knew time would be limited to prepare a message for today. I went through past sermons and found the one about Elijah who is waiting for the word of God in a cave. It is one of my favorite scriptures because I like the fact that great things can be conveyed with just a whisper. I was going to change how it started and parts of the text because when I wrote it originally I had just been on a trip to Yellowstone. After reading it again yesterday I decided to keep those parts in the message. My sisters and I spent a couple of days at Yellowstone Park. It is beautiful, grand, awestriking and more. It was my first visit to the Park and I will go back to see all that I didn’t see this time. I recommend you make a trip there if you haven’t gone before.
Now, let us go on with the message about Elijah.
We know that Elijah had fled the wrath of Jezebel and finished his trek by hiding in cave. So imagine that you are Elijah and you are in the cave on Mount Horeb. You are told to go stand at the opening as the Lord is about to come by. The wind starts to blow and it gets stronger and stronger so that the rocks are breaking apart and the mountains are splitting. Surely God will be with the wind as He is so powerful and strong and able to create such a wind. But there was no God. Then comes an earthquake, surely God is there but no He is not. Next comes a fire and unfortunately we know how powerful a fire can be. But again no God. How can this be? You were told that God would be coming and surely He would be with any of the three things that have happened as He is so powerful. Now there is just silence. You look around and all is quiet. Could God come now when sheer silence is all there is? Then you hear His voice and He is there. He talks to you and you are reassured and know what it is that you should do next.
I think when we think of God; powerful is what comes to mind first. We expect the big sound, the grandness of the waterfall, or the blowing of a geyser. It is awestriking and grabs our attention. But once we are past that initial reaction do we stay attentive or move on to the next big thing? Being in Yellowstone is being like Elijah and all that comes before him at the cave. There is the power of the falls as it goes down the cliff and crashes onto the rocks below. There is the power of the geyser as it blows steam and water high into the air. Powerful are the mountains that rise above you making you feel small and insignificant. Surely God is there. But at the end of the day, you are in overload and have become numb to all that is around you. Yes, surely God is there but you are not engaged anymore. You go back to your cabin and it is quiet. If no one is talking, there is nothing but silence. If you listen carefully you can even hear a whisper. Then God comes to you. You can embrace all that has happened during the day and His voice reassures you that all is well. You are his child and He loves you.
So what is more effective? Does the making of noise get your attention? Yes, but for how long. If I start to make and then continue making a lot of noise, I would guess that soon you will be tuning it out and thinking of what needs to be done next, what is waiting for you at home, and maybe you would rather be there than here for here is noise. But if I whisper to you, does it get your attention? Do you concentrate on hearing what I am saying because I am whispering? Do you listen to what I am saying now rather than when I am making a lot of noise because it is quiet and I am talking to you in a small, still voice?
We have all been somewhere where there is a parent who has a child that is misbehaving. How effective is it if the parent is yelling at the child, telling the child to behave and do what he or she is told? In most cases, it is not very effective. The child has learned to tune out the yelling, the noise and continues to do what he or she is doing. Now do you think that if the parent lowered their voice and said to the child please stop what you are doing so that we can continue with whatever it is that they are trying to do that the child will listen? I think there is a good chance that yes; the child will stop whatever he or she was doing. This is something different; maybe I should listen because I am curious about what is being said.
It is the same with us in our relationship with God. Yes, the powerful things grab your attention but for how long. If you are still in the silence, then God can talk to you and you are present to his small, still voice. It is then that you can learn what God has in store for you, that He loves you no matter what, and you are his child forever. Our lives are busy and we are constantly barraged by the technology of today. Our cell phones are with us all the time, so that we can stay connected. There is the internet for instant news and continuous stories of what is happening in our world. I am not saying that we should give up all that keeps us connected but I do think it would be a good idea to make time for silence, to be present to God. Give Him your time and self; let Him in, to help you be the person He would like you to be.
Make time this week to embrace the silence, to get away from the noise or just the busyness of life. Let God in to remind you of who He wants you to be, to be more like Him embracing all that life has to give you and to remember that all of us are God’s children. Amen.