First Reading: 1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13

The Whisper of God

When do you expect God to communicate with you? Have your ever been disappointed with his answer (or lack of answer)?

9a Elijah came there to a cave, and lodged there; and behold, the word of YHWH came to him.

11 God said, "Go out, and stand on the mountain before YHWH."

Behold, YHWH passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before YHWH; but YHWH was not in the wind. After the wind an earthquake; but YHWH was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake a fire passed; but YHWH was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. 13 It was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entrance of the cave.

World English Bible

Under a royal death sentence, Elijah fled the northern kingdom of Israel to the refuge of Mount Sinai, south of Judah. Some biblical scholars believe the prophet followed a familiar trail of pilgrimage to the holy mountain. While the holy man was a refugee, not a pilgrim, he traveled south to hear the word of God.

On the mountain, he may have expected to encounter God in the three symbols of his presence during the Exodus: wind, earthquake and fire. As Exodus 19 states:

Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and the smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder.

Exodus 19:18-19 RSV

But, unlike his ancestors in the desert, Elijah did not experience God in these symbols. No, he heard the Lord's voice in a faint whisper, where he least expected it.

God is indeed so great that we experience him when we least expect him to appear. He reveals himself to us. We do not demand or expect him to answer on our terms. Even when we are under pressure. Yet, if we wait, he will answer.

When you pray or go to Church on Sunday, what is your attitude towards God: expectation or anticipation? (Or both?) Have you ever been surprised by an experience of God? What happened?