A Still Small Voice…
This Sunday morning Monica and I were walking through Passau Germany, a Bavarian village known as the City of the Three Rivers at the confluence of the Danube, the Inn and the Ilz Rivers. All at once amid chirping of birds the sounds of bells began to ring and chime in turn through the air and along passageways. Monica and I love church bells. They rang for an extended time from every bell tower throughout the city, of which there are many. The priests and pastors were calling, summoning their parishioners, their flock, to Sunday services. In chapels and cathedrals sermons would be taught, messages perhaps heard, hopefully resulting in counsel being heeded, and further opportunity for greater communication.
I attended a few minutes of one of those services in a beautiful and ornate cathedral. The pews were populated by so many seeking and listening. A priest in robes of his office officiated and lead his congregants in song and prayer, blessing and providing hope for the weary in heart and spirit. The organ played and eyes were lifted heavenward, not solely toward the lovely decorated ceilings, but beyond, seeking solace in He who sees and provides for all.
How do we hear His voice? How do we see His face? How do we know when He is communicating to our needs, to our wants, to the deep yearnings of our hearts?
There is an Old Testament account of the Prophet Elijah that helps me to understand how I can hear Him, see Him, and know His direction and desires for me. There are teachings and commandments, clearly stated and written, from the Lord through prophets in times both ancient and modern, that apply to all mankind providing direction in a world that can be lonely and draw the hearts of the children of God astray. Nevertheless, the Lord has particular love, hope, and words of healing and guidance for each and every one of His children, to be individually delivered, if we can just hear through the raucous of worldly noise and receive.
Elijah was a prophet of God, reveered by some, feared by many, and despised by the wicked. The wicked Ahab and Jezebel of his day hated him so much that they sought his life. His living was solitary and often very lonely because of the distance people placed between themselves and righteousness. At one point he became so discouraged and lonely that he cried out to the Lord seeking his own personal guidance that his heart might be lifted and receive salve for his wounds.
Elijah was ministered to and comforted from on high. “And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice” (1 Kings 16:11-12).
Although the wind, the quake, and the fire were all signs of His coming, the Lord did not communicate in a great noise or commotion. Those things may have drawn Elijah’s attention, but the voice of the Lord came still and small to pierce his heart with light and wisdom.
There is a song I learned long ago as a child, that teaches the manner in which the Lord communicates with each and every one of His children, if we but listen. “The Still Small Voice” was written by Merrill Bradshaw (1929–2000), and reminds us that Heavenly Father speaks with every man, as a whisper, but never the less His hand and voice are outstretched to each of us individually.
Through a still small voice, the Spirit speaks to me
To guide me, to save me from the evil I may see.
If I try to do what’s right, He will lead me thru the night,
Direct me, protect me, and give my soul His light.
Listen, listen. The Holy Ghost will whisper.
Listen, listen to the still small voice.
The thing that is most required of us is that we listen. We, all of us at times put ourselves in places where it is hard to hear. The noise of the world comes with or without our effort, but that noise at times is brought on by our own unwillingness to create or at least live within an environment that is conducive to hearing His voice. We must seek Him by listening for Him and keeping our eyes clear to see Him. If we but do our small part our eyes and ears, the touch of our hands, will be cleared of the minutia and worldly raucous that distracts us from the guidance of His all loving and almighty hand.
The Lord is not in the wind or the quaking of the earth. He is not in the fire or even in the chime of the bells. God is not in the ornate or beautiful art that draws the eyes, nevertheless all of these invite our attention, and if we will just come to His summoning we will hear His voice and know His love.
Our Savior stands at the door and awaits our opening, our listening. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). While His commands, comings and invitations may be clarion, when He speaks it is softly, with a still small voice, that we might prepare ourselves to hear Him with our full attentive hearts and minds. May we all open our hearts and hear His voice, His still small voice, the voice of His Spirit, the voice of our Lord, and know His love. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.