“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'”? 1 Kings 19:12-13
Voices with the most words are not necessarily the loudest or most resonant. Throughout my life the voices that heeded the best advice have been the calm and consistent voices of friends and family who know me best. When God speaks to us, it isn’t the loudness of His voice that captures us, it is the calm, quiet, assured voice of His love that draws us in closer. Unruffled, tender, resolute, and unwearied by circumstances–God’s voice will always sound different than the voices of the world.
Jesus was sent to shepherd his people, and like a flock of sheep know their shepherd and his voice, we too, know the voice of our Good Shepherd who calls us loved and safe. The Shepherd’s voice inflection, tone, and rhythm are familiar and comforting. We, as beloved image-bearers of God, know the voice of our Shepherd when we hear it. We may not know it’s Him at first, but once we learn to hear by studying His voice through His Word, we can discern truth from lies. But how do we know His voice when we hear it? The world throws so much noise in our direction, therefore how can we be certain which voice is truly the Lord’s?
God’s voice isn’t in the loud, crashing shouts. In I Kings, the prophet Elijah experienced the soft whisper of God when he was running for his life from King Ahab.
“Then He said, ‘Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.’ And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the 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 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'”? 1 Kings 19:12-13 (emphasis added)
God wasn’t in the strong wind, the earthquake, nor the fire.
God was in the whisper. It’s amazing to me that God, who has the power and authority to shout to the entire world His presence, chose to whisper. He chose Jesus, a man who was ordinary in stature and not striking in appearance, to display His Glory to all the earth. This makes me wonder- Am I ever quiet enough to hear him? Do I believe that he exists only in loud and powerful forms? Can I accept that my God is present in the unremarkable; the mundane; the silence?
On the morning of my abortion, the clinic was so quiet. Judging by the number of people in the room, there should have been mountains of noise. At the very least a rustle of bags or shuffling of feet would have provided my ears with some reassurance, but there was nothing; no sound at all. Of all the things I remember about that day, the silence stands out. Each of us knew what the other had come for. A “simple procedure” that would set life back in motion, but even our eyes couldn’t meet for fear we may say too much. The silence was deafening. My fingernails clicked together as I waited nervously for the nurse to prepare me for an ultrasound. I didn’t know much at 19, but I knew ultrasound meant they were looking for a baby. They would confirm there was a child with a beating heart…more deafening noise. The nurse asked if I wanted to see “the image” and then it happened; from somewhere in the room that I couldn’t detect, perhaps deep inside of myself, I felt a nudge. The push was hard enough to force my heart in my throat and a whisper answered for me…”yes“. I shook myself back from the interruption and quickly replied to the nurse with a firm “NO”. The whispering voice that day came from the Lord, I know that now. But I didn’t know Him then, so I couldn’t possibly have known His voice. His whisper was overcome by the shouts to make my own decision and do what was best for me; the prevailing message that I could not carry this child resounded. His whisper was with me in the clinic that day and I had a choice—to listen and respond or ignore His nudge. Even though I chose to push away His whisper that day, He never chose to push me away. Instead, He pursued and chased me down gently continuing to whisper in my ear His love.
His whisper is near to you, sweet friend. Whatever the other voices are shouting, His whisper will always overcome. It may be decades later, but I promise, you’ll hear Him.
There are still moments when I aim to hear God in the blaring and showy. I naively search for him in booming social media platforms and in boastful man, but He isn’t there because that’s not who God is. His voice saves and doesn’t destroy; His voice loves and doesn’t despise; His voice shares truth and doesn’t condemn. His voice brings healing, not decay; and joy instead of mourning. The voice of created man can never overcome the voice of the Creator. Knowing the difference between the two will save many lives.
Father, You not only speak love and truth, but you ARE Love and Truth. Your power and majesty have been made evident to us since the beginning of creation and you do not need loud voices to do the work that your breath has already accomplished. Forgive us for the times we have exchanged your truth for lies and for the times we have trusted the worldly voices that surround us instead of yours. Help us to hear you and trust you. Help us to know your voice when we hear it. Thank you for Jesus, our Good Shepherd, who promises to lead us by quiet waters and restore us to you. We love you and thank you for His sacrifice and His silence as he submitted to you to save us. Amen.
Today’s post was written by Ashley Gregory, who is a contributor to the Deeper Still Devotional Blog. Ashley lives in Mt. Sterling, Illinois and is married to Mark. They have 3 children and she serves on the Central Illinois Deeper Still team.
Deeper Still is a ministry that offers free weekend retreats for women who have had abortions and the men who fathered children lost to abortion. If you have had an abortion and would like more information about our retreats, please go to www.GoDeeperStill.org to find a retreat close to you.