Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Presence of God and the Patience of Man

Elijah was on top. No, I mean, literally, he was on top. On top of Mt Carmel, that is. He was celebrating his greatest victory having just defeated the prophets of Baal in a fire-starter kinda-way. Here comes old Ahab, and he is m.a.d. He’s hot. It hasn’t rained in three years, and now his precious (think Golomh, from Lord of the Rings) has lost her favorite possession, her control of the people’s religious beliefs. Enter some clouds, a little mini flood, some comic relief at the expense of Ahab, and Jezebel is the one who gets hot under the collar. She is jumping up and down like an all-star short stop! And she sends word to Elijah that she is coming to get him. Here is a man that stood up against this horde of false prophets, faced down the king of Israel and made him look foolish, and is now knocking his knees together at the threats of this Tammy Faye Baker look-a-like. (See 2 Kings 9:30)
He runs like a BMW on the Autobahn. He hides under a juniper tree. He climbs into a cave on a far away mountain. This gets us to where I want to be for this post. Elijah is hiding in a cave. God is giving him rest. Now I’m no psychologist, just a biblisist; but folks, this is clinical depression we have going on here. (Read the whole story is 1 Kings 18-19) Elijah is in a funk. And here we see God ministering to him. Angels bring him food. You say “what kind of food?” Angel food cake, of course. Then something happens: a storm blows up. A class 5 tornado blows by so that the rocks are torn asunder. But God was not in the storm. Then an earthquake shakes things up a bit. But God was not in the earthquake. Then a raging fire roars through what was left of the stone. Now that is a fire! But God was not in the fire. After all of these things, God shows up, in a still…small…voice.
The point is that God doesn’t speak to us through the chaos of life. God doesn’t show us Himself through the storms. He speaks to us through peace. The calming, still, small, and might I add, sweet voice of His presence. I may be in a storm, an earthquake, or a fire. In the modern vernacular, these represent pressure, stress, strife—Atlanta traffic. Think of what causes you to lose your patience. Those things; finances, marital problems, unhappiness at work, disappointment with life in general, are represented in the storm, earthquake, and fire. In all of those things you will not find God. However, if you listen closely, if you will quiet the world around you, you will find God there. He is asking you to slow down, listen, and find the small, still voice of His presence.
Patty and I were watching Evan Almighty this weekend. In one scene God, adeptly played by Morgan Freeman, profoundly asks, “When people pray for patience, do you think I give them patience, or put them into situations that make them patient?” I would like to have peace, and so I’m looking for God to put me into a situation of peace. LOL. Instead of that, God has put me into a storm of emotions and volatility, and said, “Listen for my voice. Be still, and know that I am God.”



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