Scripture: I Kings 19: 9-18
Key verses: (12b-13) “ . . . 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 of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Reflection: After a stunning display of God’s power to the prophets of the god Baal, Elijah fled for his life into the wilderness of Judah. Emotionally, physically and spiritually exhausted by the experience, he lay down and prayed to God that he might die. He felt like a failure. But, God wasn’t finished with Elijah. Even though Elijah was discouraged and had retreated to the wilderness for 40 days, God knew where he was hiding out. The self-talk Elijah engaged in was very negative. Despite his faithful ministry on behalf of God he felt like he hadn’t accomplished anything. God was persistent and kept asking Elijah: “What are you doing here?” He explained that he was hiding out because the enemy was seeking to kill him. Then, Elijah expressed his self-pity directly to God who seemed to ignore him. Even though he just experienced God in the sheer silence, Elijah struggled to let go of his discouragement.
It seems to me that ministry is often experienced in this way. We work hard to accomplish a great goal for God and then there is a letdown when we finish the project. In our exhaustion, it is easy to think that God doesn’t care or that there is nothing more for us to do. How many times have we been discouraged and quit when God had more ministry for us? How many times have we depended on our own strength and forgotten to listen for God? No wonder we get exhausted! In the sheer silence, God speaks to Elijah, ignores his complaining, and sends him out to continue to serve.
In the quiet of the first of the year, after the wind, earthquake and fire of the holiday season has passed, may each of us listen, in the sheer silence, for the voice of God encouraging and directing us. May you follow God’s leading into your calling with renewed vigor.
Prayer: Faithful God, we give thanks you won’t give up on us, especially when we won’t listen. May we cultivate a place of sheer silence in our hearts that we might more clearly hear your voice and follow your leading. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Author: Deborah Conner
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].