“’Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking 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 sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance to the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’”
(1 Kings 19:11-13)
In the story above the great prophet Elijah was running for his life. He was fleeing the wrath of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. He went out into the wilderness for protection. Exhausted, he made his way to the mountain of God, Mount Horeb, the same mountain where God had met with Moses and given him the ten commandments.
While on the mountain the prophet is told God will come and speak with him. When God does however, God doesn’t come in the mighty wind, or the earthquake, or the fire, but rather in the “sound of sheer silence.” Although in the past, God’s presence had been made known through such dramatic occurrences, this time God chose to reveal God’s self in something as ordinary as silence.
I was reminded of this passage, as I’ve been considering how we can often “look for God,” in the more dramatic experiences of life. We can think the presence of God is usually revealed within the extraordinary moments, rather than the ordinary ones. Yet, the witness of scripture is clear, while God can choose to be revealed in dramatic fashion, often God chooses to do just the opposite. The challenge of a life that seeks to be in harmony with God, is to see that what we often think of as ordinary, simple, or commonplace, is also full of God’s grace and presence.
Reflecting upon this further, a wonderful quote by the brilliant French mathematician, philosopher, physicist, scientist, inventor, and theologian Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) came to mind. “Small minds are concerned with the extraordinary, great minds with the ordinary.” It’s understandable our attention will be drawn to the dramatic at times when it comes to our notions about God. After all, God is the Creator of the Universe, the Savior, and Sustainer of us all! However, time and time again, the witness of scripture and the life of Jesus itself, show us there is something of God’s presence in life all around us, especially the common and often overlooked experiences, places, and people.
As we continue to enjoy these summer days and all the gifts contained within them, may our senses be heightened to the presence of God in all the gifts and moments of life, not only the dramatic, exciting, thrilling, and extraordinary, but also the simple, the common, the local, the subtle, the unassuming, and the everyday.
Blessings, Pastor John