Most of us have almost constant noise in our lives. Whether it’s the inadvertent sounds of air conditioners, traffic or computers or the intentional sounds of television, music or conversations, we are surrounded by sounds. Many people I know invite background sounds of television or radio because they don’t want their surroundings to be quiet.
We may hear the Spirit through the voices of friends and family or through music or through other sounds. However, we may be more likely to hear God’s voice in silence.
Elijah, the famous prophet, whose story is told in 1 Kings, received God’s messages regularly. But when Elijah’s life was threatened, God came to him in an unexpected way:
The Lord said, “Go out and stand at the mountain before the Lord. The Lord is passing by.”
A very strong wind tore through the mountains and broke apart the stones before the Lord.
But the Lord wasn’t in the wind.
After the wind, there was an earthquake.
But the Lord wasn’t in the earthquake.
After the earthquake, there was a fire.
But the Lord wasn’t in the fire.
After the fire, there was a sound.
When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his coat.
He went out and stood at the cave’s entrance.
A voice came to him and said, “Why are you here, Elijah?” 1Kings 19:11-13(CEB)
Wind. Earthquake. Fire. These are ways we might expect the God of all creation to make God’s presence known. Instead, God came to Elijah in quiet—quiet that Elijah can hear.
When we intentionally choose quiet, it is a fast from the almost perpetual sound that keeps us always at a level of semi-attention. We may not even be conscious of the wear such sound is placing on our souls. Quiet gives our souls time to rest, time to heal, time to listen for that thin sound of God.
If you are not practiced at intentional quiet, I invite you to try it. Start small—5 minutes a day, or if you are really feeling adventurous, try 5 minutes at two different times a day. Like physical exercise, you have to be deliberate, be consistent, and build up gradually.
Thin. Quiet. It is a marvelous invitation to listen for the whisper of God!