“If there is a pattern in Scripture regarding whispers, it is that we serve a communicating God- a God of words. He created with a word, He healed with a word, He encouraged with a word, He guided with a word, He prophesied with a word, He assured with a word, He loved with a word, He served with a word and He comforted with a word. Throughout all of history, God has communicated, and He still is at it today. The issue isn’t whether or not God is speaking; it’s whether we will have ears to hear what He says.”–Bill Hybels
Since my first pheresis treatment on Saturday I’ve had trouble hearing God. Overcome with depression this morning I set out to find His voice in this valley of pain.
The story of God’s provision for Elijah in chapter eighteen of I Kings has often encouraged my heart. I love how God continued to feed the widow, her son and the prophet with just a little flour and oil. When the son became ill to the point of not breathing Elijah pled with God about the “unfairness” of bringing this calamity upon a woman who had so faithfully obeyed. God allowed Elijah to heal the boy through His power. I think if you or I had witnessed one or both of these miracles we would boast there is no way we would soon forget God’s faithfulness and certainly would trust Him with any new challenges that might crop up.
In chapter nineteen Elijah was on the war path. Full of the Spirit he killed all the false prophets with a sword. The word came to him that Jezebel was plenty mad and out for his blood. Just like that Elijah was overtaken with fear and ran for his life. He traveled out in the desert, left his servant and went a day further. He found some shade and got real with God. “He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, LORD,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’ Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.”
This despair came from the euphoria of a battle won being followed immediately by a hardship that seemed to close the door on everything he had prayed for, hoped for, dreamt of and lived for. This is exactly where God brings His children to understand what they REALLY believe.
Once again we see the compassion of God as He sent an angel to care for Elijah’s physical needs. He ministered to him with several meals between naps until Elijah’s strength and resolve began to return. Elijah made the forty day journey to Mt. Horeb and set up camp inside a cave. When he woke God confronted him about his complacency and discouragement. I love how God said so bluntly to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” I know God has woken me up and said this to me before. “Seriously, Monica, What are you doing here? Why are you so afraid? Don’t you remember my compassion and lovingkindness? Don’t you think I have this plan worked out for my glory and your joy???” Elijah’s answer makes me chuckle a little. It’s like a child to answer the way he did, not remembering God’s question was rhetorical. He knows all. It wasn’t an information seeking question. Still, he said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
God answered with a request, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”
As if food out of nothing, the power to raise a child from the dead, strength to slay soldiers and just having his own personal angel minister to him was not enough God let him know He was going to show Him something only one other man, Moses, had ever seen. He would show him a real glimpse of the God of Heaven and earth.
Here’s the best part.
I can completely feel Elijah’s heart beating out of his chest as he waits.
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
A gentle whisper.
Not in the wind.
Not in the earthquake.
Not in the fire.
A gentle whisper.
God asked him again, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
The realization set in. Elijah knew what God was trying to say. It wasn’t going to happen the way he dreamt. God’s plan was different all along.
Elijah wanted a spectacular showing of God. Instead God literally crushed Elijah’s own idolatry of needing his ministry to play out his way, because He wanted him to have greater joy. For all intents and purposes God ended Elijah’s ministry and passed his legacy on to someone else.
God seems harsh. Or does He? His provision for Elijah had been RELENTLESS. God’s purposes for his life were clear cut.
Elijah’s greater good and ultimate joy.
Fast forward to the New Testament and chapter nine of Luke. Read the entire chapter. Wow, it’s good. But beginning in verse twenty-eight it begins to tell the story of the transfiguration of Christ.
About eight days after Jesus said this, He took Peter, John and James with Him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As He was praying, the appearance of His face changed, and His clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about His departure, which He was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ (He did not know what he was saying.) While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.’ When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves and did not tell anyone at that time what they had seen.
WHAT? How did I miss this all these years? These were the two men who had been granted a glimpse of God’s glory in their earthly ministries and both denied their deepest earthly dreams. It was as if God held out their greatest treasure to them in His almighty hand and then said, “Do you see it? You can’t have it NOW.” They appeared in glorious splendor talking with Jesus. Elijah was finally shown “the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”–II Corinthians 4:6
It all makes sense.
This is how God works.
He often chooses to go after our greatest treasures and leave us with nothing else but a quiet whisper.
I have to admit. I am often pitching a fit too loudly to even remotely hear His voice.
Saturday’s plasmapheresis treatment was exhausting. This weekend has left our family aching. If I’m honest I’ve had hours when complete amnesia of God’s faithfulness comes over me. My heart cries out like Elijah’s, “I’ve had enough.” I wonder if God will ever allow me to see the desires of my heart fulfilled here on earth. Dan is sad in a way I can hardly bear. Delaney is feeling the weight of our life more than ever, and I worry it will breed resentment not more love. Danica is the only one childlike enough to still float. We bear this burden as seasoned warriors. We speak of it out loud. There is no pretending here. As Dan and I settled into our bed just now he said, “Let’s Notebook it.” If you know Nicholas Spark’s sweet love story then you understand. We would like to slip away together.
I’m looking for some crazy answer to come in on wind or an earthquake or a burning fire. He’s showing Himself daily in provision and healing and strength to fight and even angels who care for me with earthly graces. What if He’s holding out in His hand this thing, my health, the ability to ever really function normally again and then telling me, “You can’t have it now.”
This is where God has brought me to understand what I REALLY believe. What I do in these moments means everything.
God will not leave me here in these disappointments. I have a sure and certain HOPE. I will see Him face to face, and when I see Him I will be like Him. He has gone to prepare a place for me. Home. Health. Enjoyment forever. Exceeding, abundantly more than I could ever ask or think.
God is relentlessly pursuing me and whispering in my ear. “Do not lose heart. He that endures to the end will be saved. My strength is made perfect in your increasing weakness. I will be glorified the most and your joy will be the greatest when this is finally over.”
You are my God.
You are impossible to overestimate.
I believe in Your whisper tonight.
Treatment two is tomorrow. Dan will work. The girls will go to my parent’s house. My dad will pick me up at 6:30am and take me to the hospital for labs necessary before the okay to proceed. My Janet will take me back at 1pm to begin pheresis. Thank you for your prayers.
Smoke photography by Cindee Snider Re. Used with permission.