MINI-SERIES: LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS
In the UK, another feature of the ‘dark time of the year’ is the contrast in weather patterns: raging storms with gale-force winds can be followed by still November days, when everything is motionless, and silence settles on the land.
These contrasts always remind me of the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19.
Elijah had had a great victory against the prophets of Baal, but on hearing that there was a death threat against him, collapsed into fear and depression and made his way to Mount Horeb, where he had this encounter with the Lord:
Then [the Lord] 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 a still small voice.
So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle
and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave.
Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
[1 Kings 19:11-13 NKJV]
We are always fascinated by the dramatic: photographers venture out to capture the moment, others to view the spectacle, often oblivious to any danger. The extraordinary draws a crowd and gives excitement to humdrum lives. It can be the same in our spiritual lives: God is doing some amazing things in our day, but it has often produced an unhealthy focus on the spectacular, and His Presence in the commonplace has frequently been overlooked.
Several things strike me from this story:
When Elijah was struggling, he went back to Horeb, another name for Sinai, the place of Covenant. For us the place of Covenant is the Cross—it’s the anchor for our lives. The New Covenant was signed and sealed in Jesus’ blood, and it’s the Cross we need to return to in our dark periods, to revisit what has been purchased for us. (See The Power of the Cross on this website.)
Having just experienced an amazing demonstration of the power of God in his stand-off with the prophets of Baal, it’s quite likely that Elijah was looking for a personal powerful encounter at Horeb. However, in that place of Covenant, it wasn’t in the drama of the wind, earthquake or fire, that God met him, but in the still small voice which questioned him.
The question was important. I don’t think it was accusing or judgemental, but instead was designed to get Elijah to identify and articulate his problem. Our human response is so often to ‘stuff’ the problem down', God’s way is always to get it out into the open where we can acknowledge it, and where He can deal with it.
Having exposed the root issue, the answer came, and God’s wisdom was released. Biblical wisdom is essentially a ‘plan that works’ and is very practical. The Lord’s plan was set out, along with the comforting revelation that it wasn’t all down to Elijah; in fact, his ‘season’ was nearly over, and importantly, it was made clear to him that he wasn’t alone after all.
If you are struggling today: go back to the Cross, the place of Covenant, invite the Lord to come present to you, and listen for His still small voice.
THIS WEEK’S GRACE RHYTHM
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[Photo credits: Breno Machado (lightning); Aaron Burden (bench); Merakist (social media sign) @ Unsplash, with thanks]
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