Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Soft Whisper

I have often heard people refer to the "still small voice" of God. For a long time I wondered about that. I always picture God's voice as big and booming. God is omnipotent and vast - so isn't His voice the same way.

I remember the first time I read 1 Kings 19, the story of Elijah in a cave. In 1 Kings 18 Elijah confronted 400 prophets of Baal. In that encounter, God made Himself known and the people saw who was the real true God. Then Elijah prayed and a three-year drought was broken when God sent a downpour. But now Elijah was running away. Jezebel threatened to kill him. Elijah said, "I'm done." He crossed the wilderness and was fed by an angel. Now he was in a cave.

God asked, "Why are you here?" Elijah said, "I'm the only one left standing for you, God. And they're after me now."

Elijah was a prophet of God. That was his identity, his calling. He was good at it. But as he looked at his present circumstances, he was struggling with it. God said He would bring His presence to Elijah. A destructive wind blew through the mountains, but that wasn't God's presence. Then an earthquake, but that wasn't God's presence. Then a blazing fire; not God's presence either. Then came a voice, a soft whisper. There's the still small voice. God said that Elijah was not the only one left. There were other followers. And Elijah's work was not done. He had a successor to anoint and new kings to anoint, too. He was still a prophet and had prophet work to do.

As I read this again, I wonder if Elijah questioned his whole prophet ability. Maybe what he thought he was good at wasn't really true. I certainly have had that experience. For a long time, I felt that I was made to be a teacher of young children. It seemed that my abilities fit perfectly with teaching. I seemed good at it. I enjoyed it. A few years ago things happened that made me question that. If I wasn't a good teacher, what was I really? I didn't do very well then. In recent days I've been feeling like what I once did well is now at best mediocre. Maybe I'm not really meant to be a teacher. Maybe I'm not good at what I thought I was good at.

Those voices can be really loud. And destructive. A forceful wind, an earthquake, a blazing fire. 

But I need to hear the soft whisper. And how do I hear that? I must be quiet. I must listen. 

Maybe I have more teacher work to do. Maybe I have different teacher work to do. Maybe who I thought I was I really am. 

God didn't tell Elijah, "You are a prophet." He gave him work to do. He corrected misinformation and mistaken belief. He affirmed that God's plan was in control.

Listening to the quiet voice through His word, I hear the same. I have work to do, tasks to accomplish. I must have a true and accurate picture of the situation (God's perspective). I can be confident that God is in control.

Each day I must find my wilderness cave and listen. The voice, the soft whisper, is there.


  1. Whoa! I almost wondered if I had mentioned this, but I know I hadn't to you. I have been learning the same exact thing about learning to be quiet and hear God's still voice. I learned that often we can make ourselves so busy that we don't hear his voice. Also I highly doubt that you were a bad teacher. It more than likely was just a bad fit with the school leadership and co-workers. Even if you were terrible, a good school would have supported you and given you the tools you need to get better. It is only in toxic environments where you see people just quick to judge whether a person is a teacher or not. They do that because it makes them feel better about what they're doing by putting others down. I was in a toxic school. However, my teacher at my university had taught at good schools and when I talked to her about the things that happened at my school she told me not to give up that not all schools were like that. I still don't see myself going back because even at a good school, I still feel the focus is on the teacher and "all the cute things she wants to do" and not the students. And I just think most people are too brainwashed to see that that is the case.

  2. I have a story. When my pastor first began he was studying under another pastor. The senior pastor at that church had to be somewhere else and asked my pastor (at the time was in seminary) to lead the congregation on Sunday. He immediately obliged and worked all week to write up a sermon that would speak to the church. The day arrived, he got up on the podium, and he had an immediate panic attack. He looked at the church which was a considerable sized church and told them, "I can't do this." He walked down the aisle and hid in a closet until everyone was gone. There was a small window in the closet and a child went up to it and said, "Mr. so and so we love you." As the child said this he was even more tucked into a corner trying hard not to be seen. The congregation actually waited a while for him until they realized he really was not going to show up. No one treated him terribly. No one told him, "Oh this proves you cannot be a pastor. This is not your calling." None of this. At all. I just thought, if only more people were like this because I saw teachers and administrators quickly judge people as to whether they were a good teacher or not without giving them any support. And the reality is, if you really have the heart to do something, it can be learned. And besides, I never saw any of the new teachers be terribly bad. Everyone has a learning curve. Everyone else was just so old they completely forgot what it was like at the beginning. Also they don't see their own needles in their eyes. I saw one teacher who thought she always had a handle on the kids like she had eyes in the back of her head and was very critical of other teachers. However, when I observed in her classroom I saw that there was indeed a lot of mischief she was never even aware of while teaching. She wasn't even looking in that direction at all. It's just much easier for people to judge others and to not have empathy and compassion, knowing that we all have areas we can grow in.