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  • Amy Diller

A Gentle Whisper: His Quiet Presence

When I began my teaching career, I knew I didn’t want to be known as a teacher who yelled at her students. As a disciplinary tactic, yelling almost always backfires. Continual loud communication either ends up provoking anxiety or indifference in kids. I discovered that when my students were loud, using a quiet voice to get their attention was effective. The kids would realize one by one I was talking to them, and the room settled down. Matching volume for volume did not work. Speaking calmly often did.

In 1 Kings 19, we find Elijah coming off of the powerful display of God’s greatness on Mount Carmel (chapter 18) only to have his life threatened by Jezebel. And he runs for his life. In the wilderness, he sat down under a bush and prayed that he would die. God’s response surprises me. You would think the Lord would tell Elijah to get up and stop feeling sorry for himself, to remember what He had just done with the prophets of Baal, but He doesn’t. Instead, the Lord ministers to Elijah’s need for food, rest, and His presence.

Strengthened by food and rest, Elijah got up and continued on for forty days and nights until he reached Mount Horeb. There the Lord spoke to him and instructed Elijah to stand outside because He was going to pass by. We read that first a mighty wind comes, but the Lord wasn’t in the wind. Then there was an earthquake, but the voice of the Lord wasn’t in it. A fire followed the wind and the earthquake, but the Lord wasn’t in the fire either. Considering God’s might, it seems like His presence would easily be revealed in these powerful displays of nature. He could have shown Himself in any number of spectacular ways as He often does. However, that isn’t what Elijah needed at that time. Finally, a gentle whisper came, and the Lord was present in the whisper. Elijah heard and responded by covering his face in God’s holy presence.

How often do we, like children, need to hear a gentle and quiet voice? When life is in turmoil around us, and the noise in our heads and hearts threaten to drown out everything right and true, we can’t handle more loud voices. The messages swirling inside and pushing us to the brink of despair causes us to yearn for the Lord to minister to the raw places in our lives. And in His perfect love, He knows exactly what we need. His presence comes as a gentle whisper to our troubled hearts.

Maybe you are in need of a gentle whisper from the Lord right now, of His ability to soothe a heart that is heavy or fearful. I pray that He would come and speak softly to the burdens overwhelming you, the noise that won’t go away, the heartache that weighs you down. Just as God met Elijah’s physical and spiritual needs, He is able to meet yours. He is the same God today as He was in the past. Listen for Him to reveal His presence in the whisper you are so longing for.

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