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The Low Whisper

When God moves, He is not silent.

In fact, when God moves, the earth may tremble.

As Christians, we know that our Lord is alive and that He is intimately at work in the lives of His people. Why is it, then, that we so often mistake His presence, His leading, His moving…for silence?

In moments of greatest despair and desperation for God to move, I would think that Christians across the world have experienced a similar feeling of helplessness at God’s apparent silence. We share the plea of the psalmist:

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Ps. 22:1).

It is a powerful thing to reflect upon the magnitude of distress that the word forsaken implies and to remember that these are the very same words that Jesus cried out upon the cross (Matthew 27:46). In Jesus’ suffering and dying moments, the presence of God left him. His Father turned away. He felt forsaken. To say, then, as the psalmist does, that we feel forsaken by God is no light matter. This is to say that we feel physically apart from Him.

When God moves, He is not silent. After all, our Lord is in control of all the earth. When all we feel, then, is silence, does this mean that God isn’t moving in our lives?

This is a question I have wrestled with endlessly over the past few months. I have prayed continually and desperately for God to move. I have pleaded for His voice. For His presence. I have begged to see Him in all His power and glory at work in my life. What happens when, after so many desperate prayers, God still feels silent and unmoving? I have been reflecting upon an answer to this question from two different perspectives.

One: What if God speaks in a whisper, not in crystal clear signs?

At times, it is too easy to expect radical signs from God. We want explicit, powerful answers to prayer. We want to see writing in the sky. We want to see the doors of opportunity open and close before our eyes. We want definite, evidential, providential answers.

But what if God, through His apparent silence, were only speaking more softly, more subtly—what if He were drawing us nearer to Himself so that we must learn to feel the intricacies of His movement within our own hearts?

As I have reflected upon feelings of God’s silence, I have been drawn to remember the experience of Elijah in 1 Kings 19:

“There he [Elijah] came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ He said, ‘I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.’ And he said, ‘Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord’” (1 Kings 19:9-11).

Pause. If we were Elijah, what would we expect? His life at stake, he has come to a barren cave on a mountainside, where he stands to come before the Lord. In Elijah’s great distress, it seems only fitting for God to move in some mighty, powerful way.

“And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke 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 the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him…” (1 Kings 19:11-13).

As the Lord passed by Elijah, the earth trembled. The wind made mountains crumble and earthquake and fire ensued. If I were Elijah, I would have expected God to speak to me here. I would have expected the writing to be in the sky (or in the crumbling rocks, or the fire). And yet, the Lord was in none of these things.

And after the fire the sound of a low whisper…

What if, all this time, God hasn’t been silent? What if He is whispering to us all along, and our hearts aren’t tuned to Him to hear it? What if we distract ourselves looking for signs and evidence and miss God’s voice altogether? I have been reminded that it takes a special closeness and practice to be attuned to the Spirit’s nudges on our hearts, on our longings, our prayers, and our fears. But that doesn’t mean that God isn’t speaking.

Two: What if God grants us the freedom within His will to not need one and only one answer?

Too often when faced with trials or decisions, I torment myself day after day as I try to discern the choice that God is leading me to make. If I come to know and to recognize the low whisper of God’s leading and voice, then I should be able to discern the one direction He is leading me, right?

In my own experience, I believe that searching for one, and only one, clear answer from God may also lead me to mistake His voice for silence. When I do this, I may be overlooking the small moments when God whispers: Child, this choice is freely yours, if you honor me with it.

I firmly believe that God is moving in and among His people. And I believe that when God moves in us and for us, He is not silent. His voice, when we feel it in our hearts, is the most beautiful, most comforting gift. The more we free ourselves of our expectations of what we need to hear from God, or of how clearly we need to hear it, the more we can open and prepare our hearts to receive it.

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Meg Rodriguez

Meg Rodriguez is a writer based in her hometown of St. Louis, MO. Though for most of her life she had prepared for a career in medicine, Meg dropped out of medical school when she realized she couldn’t shake her passions to reach people relationally and to live a smaller, more “ordinary" life as a wife and someday-mother. Meg writes most about the themes that have shaped her life thus far—ongoing struggle with chronic illness, faith, beauty in suffering, resilience, and calling. Find more of her writing at megrodriguez.com or follow her on Instagram @megcrodriguez.

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