This post was first published on the Big Bible website as part of the #digidisciple series
1 Kings 19 v 9 – 13:
The Lord appears to Elijah
And the word of the Lord came to him: ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’
10 He replied, ‘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.’
11 The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’
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. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’
Hearing from God is a much discussed topic in the circles I am currently moving in. And as I was reminded of the story of Elijah in preparation for this blog post I thought I’d set out my own experience of a ‘still small voice’.
There are many ways of ‘hearing’ a voice, especially (it seems) in these days of more and more ways to communicate with friends and family. Of course nothing quite beats having the person in the same room, sitting next to you. But I can hear the voice of my best friend through Skype/Facetime, on the telephone, or in text format on social media or email or even sms!
Probably the time when I have heard from God the clearest was whilst working for a Christian Schools Work Charity. I realised that God was trying to get through to me when I was reflecting on why no-one was applying for the Gap Year programme I had spent the previous 9 months putting together. I began to feel an almost physical sensation of being tapped on the shoulder by the Holy Spirit. Like a ‘still small voice’ I sensed God saying ‘I want to do things differently…. Are you listening? …I want to do things differently…’
I shared this with my colleagues, who had been sensing something very similar, and we embarked on a journey of discovering what it was that God was actually wanting us to do differently. We talked to each other, to trusted other Christians, we read our bibles, we prayed, we listened. One particularly memorable afternoon saw two of us in the office feeling very frustrated at how long ‘other people’ were taking to get ‘on-board’ and vocalising this. My eyes dropped to my Twitter feed where I saw Mike Pilavachi had tweeted this: If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. (Old African Proverb) My jaw dropped, I repeated it to my colleague whose jaw also dropped… God had spoken.
Gradually we realised that God really was asking us to do something ridiculous and crazy in order to leave room for Him to do something different. We closed our schools work charity down, making both of us unemployed and ending a 25+yr legacy of Christian schools work in the town. Crazy, right? Yet when God speaks, whether it’s a tap on the shoulder or a still small voice, craziness suddenly makes sense!
Since then (Encounter closed in August 2012) God has kept on saying similar things in different contexts, I’m concerned I might get a reputation for shutting things down which have been going for ages! But how can I ignore the still small voice of God? ‘Do the ridiculous and I’ll turn it into something awesome’
I’d love to say that God swooped in and now schools work in Eastbourne is bigger and better than it ever was before. But I can’t, because it’s not. That’s not to say I think we heard wrong, I’m still sure that God told us to close and move out of His way! I’m also not saying there’s no hope of any schools work happening because there is hope, a real and tangible excitement still whenever I think about the possibilities that are currently on the brink of taking off.
So, God speaks, in a still small voice, or in other words: sometimes in the most unexpected ways. We know that God speaks through the Bible; we might expect God to speak through sending us a picture or Bible verse in a prayer meeting; we may also expect to ‘hear’ from God during worship; let’s also expect to sense God in every encounter, whether face to face with another person or reading from a screen. Whether we, God’s people, are tweeting, facebooking, writing blog posts or pinning to boards on Pinterest, God can and does speak. The question is: Are you listening?