We’ve all grown up knowing the God is “omnipresent”, right? He’s everywhere! But what if I shared with you a story from the Bible where God was not there?
Hang on tight because this week I’m going to send you some scripture right out of the gate. Recall from 1 Kings, chapter 19, the story of Elijah:
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (NIV, 1 Kings 19:11-13)
Did you catch it? Elijah was looking for God in all the chaos of the earthquakes and wind storms and fires, but the Lord was not there. Rather, God speaks to Elijah from the stillness of a whisper….
What can we learn from all this?
Raise your hand if there’s any amount of chaos in your lives right now?
Most of us, truthfully, can fit that description. We are working too hard, volunteering too much, sleeping less frequently, and putting unnecessary stress on our lives. Then, when you add family and friends into the mix, the chaos seems to multiply.
Wouldn’t you like to be a fly on the wall at my house between the hours of 6 pm and 9 pm during the week! Bring your Kevlar helmet and battle armor! I wish I could say that my wife and I have our boys’ routines on school nights down to a science. We don’t.
If we’re lucky, we’ve got dinner at the table that includes some conversations like “how was your day”, “what did you learn in school”, or “who’s Georgia playing in football this weekend”. After dinner, it’s a race to see which boy hits the shower first. We have an “odd day / even day” plan in our house, where one of the boys will take his shower first if it’s an even number day. And the other boy will go first on the odd numbered days. Usually that starts out well, but ultimately the boys have to share the bathroom when it comes time for brushing of hair and teeth…and that’s usually where the chaos starts.
Boys will be boys….especially when they’ve had a long day with little sleep from the night before.
Still, before bedtime, there’s homework to check on, spelling words to call out, math problems to check, and notebooks to get organized for the next day’s classes.
And that’s half the battle. You see, once the boys finally get to bed, my wife and I have our own tasks to occupy our time before we turn in. Prepping for some volunteer activities, reading work emails, paying bills, folding laundry, etc. It’s chaos … and it’s a repeatable process, not in a good way!
Can you relate? Seems like the chaos will always be there.
At some point, however, we all need to realize that it’s the drifting away from the chaos where we are at peace. Time and time again, Jesus would step away from the “noise” to find a quiet place. And remember that verse about going up to your room and closing the door so you can be with God?
“When you pray, go to your room and close the door. Pray privately to your Father who is with you. Your Father sees what you do in private. He will reward you. “When you pray, don’t ramble like heathens who think they’ll be heard if they talk a lot. Don’t be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6:6-8
Why is this important?
God doesn’t want any of us to be distracted. And when the noise is all around us, we can’t hear His voice or feel his pain. We’re simply not focused.
Perhaps the title of this devotion is not fully true after all. I probably set us up for that part.
God remains everywhere and IS omnipresent! God was in the earthquake and in the wind, and even in the fire! Maybe, Elijah was simply too distracted by the noise to even notice. Butwhen the distractions disappeared, all that remained was the quiet, gentle whisper from the darkness and stillness of the cave.
“What are you doing here, Elijah?”
What are we doing here?
My prayer this week is that we all find those quiet places. For in this world full of distractions, it’s the solitude that gives us peace.