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. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” —1 Kings 19:11b-13
This Dude is having really tough time—a three year drought, conflict with the Baal’s prophets, a crazy queen threatening to kill him—he’s had enough and he prays to God to take him away from it all. Seriously, his despair is so great he runs away from it all, hides in a cave and prays to die.
God tracks him down, in that relentless way that God always tracks us down, and asks Elijah, “What are you doing here?” Elijah whines about how hard it has all been, how he’s the only one left fighting the fight, how his life is in danger. And God says, “Come on out sweetheart, come out to the mountain ‘cos I am going to be with you.” And then we have this wind and quake and fire and then…. wait for it… the still small voice. There, right there…. is God. In the silence.
And you can literally feel Elijah’s spirit shifting. He has been in agony, despairing with those deep down questions of faith that we all carry around. “How can I be the one that is being called to do this?” How can I sustain this commitment?” “How can bad things happen to good people like me?” “Where the heck is God in all of this?”
But there, in the silence Elijah hears God’s still small voice, and it sounds like a loving grandmother who knows you better than you know yourself when she asks you what you already know deep down inside….“Elijah, what are you doing here?” “You know where you are suppose to be, you know what you have to do, you know the responsibility I gave you, you know that I have given you all that you need to carry this burden I have asked you to carry.” “Go,” God says, “Return.”
Beloved, there ARE times when the stuff of life overwhelms and we despair. But God pursues us even when we want to hide, God strengthens us for the work God calls us to, God heals and restores us, gives us answers to those deep, deep questions and sends us back to continue our discipleship—for everything we do is discipleship. In God’s love we find truth, promise and hope—for ourselves and for the Church. May it be so.
With blessings and prayer that the Holy Spirit guide us on The Way,
Rev. Wendy Miller Olapade