Updated: Feb 16
1 Kings 19:11-13 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks 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 the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
I, along with so many others, have been drawn to spectacles... I may get frustrated at the car in front of me for slowing down as he just has to look at the car wreck, but when it's my turn I do the same.
I'm drawn to the wind, the earthquake and the fire, so much so, that I wonder just how often I miss the quiet whisper of God once the spectacle has ceased, or like a person coming out of a loud concert who has trouble hearing people speak normally, If I have been so enamoured by the seemingly great, that I've missed the truly great, God speaking with a whisper, inviting me to sit at his feet, to join him in what he's doing, and offering to be my comforter, my guide, my counsellor and my expert.
I may not seek out literal winds or earthquakes... (Note to self: Please do fasten those bookshelves to the wall before they may kill you in the next earthquake), no, but I do seek to run, when God's speed is walking, and I do choose the loud voices of bloggers, podcasters, book authors, and educated experts in given fields instead of relying upon the expert in every field, and maybe it's all because it's hard.
It's easy for me to move on to the next thing, to take in information and to seek to be productive, It's what others expect, and it's sometimes what I love and desire, but It's hard to stop and wait for God to lead.
As Elliot and I were talking he reminded me of how amazing it is, that when God took on flesh in Jesus, he knew he had 3 years of ministry, even in his final week he knew that death was around the corner, and yet what did he do? He prayed, he walked with his disciples, he ate with them, he talked with them, he washed their feet.
How often have we been confronted by the question: "What would you do if you knew you had only 6 months to live", as if we needed to do something radical, something amazing, be more productive, be faster, be more impressive, or even just be a part of a spectacle... "Go out with a bang" as they say... But Jesus walked, ate, prayed and washed feet.
I am learning that I have a tendency to allow human experts and well meaning people offering advice to have too much sway in my life, I'm learning that I need to be grateful for it, but lay it all at the feet of Jesus every single time. I need to stop being so captivated by the loud and the obvious, and sometimes simply see what God is doing in the obscurity of it all... After all, even at Jesus birth he was not born in Athens, Rome or Jerusalem the places to be for religious, financial or political power, no, if you really wanted to be a part of the unfolding story of what God was doing, you had to go to Bethlehem, and join him there in the obscurity.
I find it interesting, especially today, as we have the privilege of access to so many resources for instance for church planting, including books, conferences, lectures, classes, articles, videos and podcasts, that there is very little emphasis on the MVP of church planting... In our talk of systems, vision, values, online presence, best practices, ecclesiology, christology, missiology and theology, the reliance on the work of God the Holy Spirit to equip, teach, guide, comfort and sustain has been largely lost, I'd say we need pneumatology, but if we simply study the Holy Spirit without relying on him it may simply increase our problems as we have heads filled with knowledge and hearts that are dead.
Is that another way that we are obsessed with the spectacle and ignoring that which is happening around us that is not just seemingly great, but truly great?
As grateful as I am for all of these resource, and God has most certainly used them greatly for my edification, growth in understanding and even my sanctification, I'm amazed at the letters to Timothy...
There is a guy, sent to raise up elders, who's apparently young (1. Tim 4:12), who's struggling either with emotional troubles or physical (1. Tim. 5:23), who has no books, lectures, or resources, he has no phone to call his mentor, or zoom meetings on his calendar, he simply has the occasional letter from the Apostle Paul, and keeping in mind how slow the Icelandic Postal service can be, even with all of their years of existence and modern technology, I can only imagine that Timothy receives letters and sends letters with weeks or months of silence in between...
There he was, God's servant in Ephasus, relying on God's spirit, and his wisdom to lead... Of course that can happen through people, and of course God can work through spectacles that capture your attention immediately like the red sea opening up or the cloud in the desert or the pillar of fire, but what if we've forgotten the art, and the joy, of appreciating silence, and finding ourselves in full dependence on God to equip us, strengthen and guide?
Father, help us not fear silence, help us realize the truths of Psalm 127:1, that we can labour as much as we humanly can, and yet, if you are not building this house and blessing our labours, it's all in vain... Forgive me for being drawn to the spectacle, and the number of times that has caused me to miss what you are sometimes doing and working in the obscurity because, in the end, the one who turned the world upside down did not make his first arrival in Jerusalem, Rome, Athens or Ephesus, no you came in Bethlehem, help me, and help us join you there.