I am posting this message on Palm Sunday. It’s the week before Easter, and Palm Sunday celebrates the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem surrounded by noisy celebration. Some of the religious leaders there complained about all the noisy people, but Jesus responded, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” (Luke 19:40).
This made me think about something that Elijah and I would read together during the last month he was with us. As we studied the Prophet Elijah, we were fascinated at how God reveals himself. Noise usually draws our attention, and nothing compares to the noise that our planet can generate. Earth, Wind and Fire was a great band from the 70s and 80s, but the Prophet Elijah got to stand in the front row for a view of the original earth, wind and fire concert:
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the 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 came 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. (I Kings 19:11-13)
There is nothing wrong with noisy celebration. But God is most likely to reveal himself to us in those quiet moments when we turn down the volume and remove the distractions.
A good friend of ours shared about a time when he was taking a walk in the woods some years ago near the very spot where Elijah was recently taken to heaven. As he stomped along the wooded path, he was disappointed at the lack of peacefulness he expected to find. It then dawned on him to pause, sit on a log and quietly listen. As he turned down the volume of his own distractions, he noticed how the woods came to life around him. And his quiet time with the Lord became one of his most memorable.
Elijah well knew the difference between celebration and communication. His girlfriend Madison shared this:
Over the summer I would beg Elijah to either take me on dates or come out and do something fun with me. But he would be stubborn and only agree to stargaze with me, which was great. He loved the stars and the outdoors. I am so grateful to have that memory with him. Because now when I can’t sleep, and I look out my window at the bright Arizona stars, I feel comforted in a way.
How many of us know how to slow down, quite our souls and listen to that gentle whisper from the Lord? It’s as though God is asking us, “Can you hear Me now?”
God loves our celebration and praise. But he waits until we stop making noise before he communicates with us.
“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
My new favorite activity is gazing at the stars in silent communication with the Lord. Thank you, Elijah.
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