The Old Testament reading from this past Sunday comes from one of my favorite passages in the Bible.
At the mountain of God, Horeb, Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter. Then the LORD said to him,“Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD;the LORD will be passing by.” A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains, and crushing 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 there was fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this,Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave. (1 Kings 19:9, 11-13)
I’ve always felt a connection to this story, because any experience I have ever had with God has been through the tiniest, most minute ways.
I’ve never heard a booming voice come down from heaven, nor have I experienced God in a blatant, tremendous way. It has only when I am able to remove all distractions, quiet all that is around me, and just listen that I am able to find Him.
God is such a mysterious being. He is the almighty creator from which all of existence flows. He is all powerful, all knowing, and without beginning or end. He can split the sea in two or make the sun dance in the sky, but he doesn’t — at least not often.
And why is that?
With all the problems that face the Church and Her faithful today, with so many lambs lost and wondering, why doesn’t God just show up and reveal Himself?
I’ve often wondered that myself, but upon further reflection, I’ve come to realize how human that question is.
We are such prideful creatures aren’t we? We expect everything delivered to us easy peasy with no effort on our part. How many times have we said to God, “I’ll believe, but I’m going to need a huge, obvious display of power first”?
Yet, while we’re tapping our foot, waiting for our own burning bush, God is calling out to us in the whisper. Why? Because he wants us to listen. He wants us to seek Him.
When someone yells at you from across the room, it takes no real effort to hear them. You can stand at a safe distance and hear every word loud and clear. But when someone whispers, you have to come close, lean in, block out all other noise, and really focus on what that person is saying.
So it is with God. He calls to us in the quietest ways, because in order to hear Him, to understand Him, we have to get closer, lean in, and put all of our focus on what He’s trying to tell us. We have to block out all the distractions and all the background noise, and make the effort.
It’s not always easy, and at times, it can become pretty frustrating — perhaps even more so for Christians. As the Church faithful, it’s easy for us to think that we have an “in” with God, and that if we say our prayers, recite our rosaries, and ingest the Body and Blood of Christ, then he will speak to us in clearer, more direct terms.
Of course, this isn’t the case. God works with us and through us, not right in front of us. When we’re not getting the signs and answers we’re searching for, then we need to open our hearts, and listen for the whisper.