Among the means by which our God and Father communicates through us, there exists both the declarative and the contemplative word of the Lord. The Old Covenant prophet Elijah knew it by experience; the “still, small voice” is seldom spectacular and rarely is it the thrilling, supercharged, goose-pimple producing “thus saith the Lord” revelation men so frequently clamor for. On the other hand, the thundering, awe-inspiring, earth-shattering sound may be, but seldom is the true Voice that is above every other voice.
It is not volume, but value that reveals the difference between the counterfeit and the authentic. The brand name ‘Rolex’ doesn’t make the watch genuine, it’s the materials and workmanship inside that validates genuineness.
Indeed, Elijah had perhaps more New Covenant comprehension than did any of his contemporaries. He was no stranger to raising the dead. He called down fire from heaven and entered paradise alive in a whirlwind without tasting death. He was superintendent of the school of the prophets and knew intimately and personally the voice of his God.
And God said to this man, “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. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper’ (1 Kings 19:11,12).
The first instructive words are these, “the LORD was not in…” Oft-times, perhaps more frequently than we want to admit, God is “not in…” our carefully structured plans and programs, our schemes and our suppositions and our limited understandings of the things of God. God may be fully engaged in our worship songs or He may be nowhere in sight when these same songs become more show than worship, more narcissistic expression than humble adoration of the King of all glory.
It is right to want Him, to want to hear His voice, to see His hand extended, to experience Him in full display of divine mercy, grace and goodness, but it is wrong to insist that He move by our schedule; that He descend when we declare, that He comes when we command. He is no wish-fulfilling genie in iridescent garments with whom we have to do. There is a bigger reason, a grander purpose that He has for our lives than we can possibly hope to comprehend in our limited imaginations and narrow thoughts.
The human psyche seeks irrepressibly to rise… above. It is both a natural and an evil desire. It was observed by the pre-incarnate Word who “saw Satan as lightening fall from heaven” after the same declared, “I will…!” Five times he declared. Five times he insisted. Five times he made known to the heavens his insistence that glory should surround him to the want of the King of glory. (See Luke 10 and Isaiah 14).
Unless we should think too highly of our spiritual estate, scripture reveals that it was Lucifer, the son of the Morning, the beatific being who reflected God’s luminescence more magnificently than any other angel who would fall to the lowest and meanest estate and spiritual condition. Lucifer: powerful, intelligent, beautiful, proud, intimately near God’s Person and throne. Yet tragically, perhaps inevitability, he fell.
Hear his ancient declaration, “I will…” “I Will!” Hear it through the centuries and with the expanse of history from the beginning until now: “I WILL!”
So we must exercise great caution and humility when the desire rises from within to shout our will; to invade heaven with our demands. We want to declare and watch our demands take shape and form. We insist that our decree is His decree. But if caution is not exercised, we will appear as the children of Israel testified of the divine origin of their creation when they certified that a golden calf fairly materialized from the flames of man-made fire.
Our every motivation and desire must always be not what we demand, but what He desires. Rather than insisting that our decree become His decree, we ought always to determine that His decree should become our decree.
Scripture gives us divine order: “Delight yourself also in the LORD; and he shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). The key here is found in the words, “in the Lord.” Note that it is not “in our understanding, in our desire, in our wish,” but it is “in the Lord” that He gives us the desires of (our) hearts. “Delight in the Lord” brings “the desires of your heart.” This is so because when we truly find our “delight” in Him, His desires become ours. We then find ourselves praying, claiming and declaring in His will and not in ours. Remember the words, “…not my will, but Thine be done” (Luke 22:42).
In our desiring and our declaring, we must consider that above, beyond; of chief priority to the redeemed heart is the desire and yearning of the perfect and matchless God of all creation, our heavenly Father. What does He, what do You desire, my sovereign Lord and my all-consuming King, my gracious Savior and my Lord?
Before we hazard to declare, before we utter what we presume to be God-generated pronouncement, may we hear Him; may we hear the singular Voice of whom it is made revealed, “in these last days has spoken to us by His Son.”
Oh, it is true that ‘wherever two or three of us shall gather in His name, there He is in the midst of us.’ Indeed, our very humble bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. It is Christ in us, the hope of glory. Scripture abounds to indicate and to qualify that when Christ is “in us” we are accompanied and indwelt by the fullness of the triune God.
Yet He chooses often silence over sound and gentle breeze over hurricane wind to speak to us in the depths both created and plumbed by the same Creator and Sustainer who is our God.
Listen. This is my plea. Hear Him. Hear Him clearly. Before rising in the midst of the assembly of the saints of God to declare, first discern. Loud and rumbling thunder may shake hearth and home, but booming sound does not guarantee life-giving rain. There are many “clouds without water, carried to and fro of the winds” (Jude 1:12).
“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.”
As comes a gentle whisper, may we provide a listening ear.