Pastor Bob Chell
I feel like a victim though I know it’s untrue. I feel overburdened and under-appreciated, squeezed by time constraints and stretched by commitments. Jesus says, “You will find your life by losing it.” I feel I have lost my life by living it; carpe diem and all that. The time when I could seize the day is long past. Now, each day seizes me.
I am present to everyone and no one. I surf the net when I am on the phone, and phone my circle when I drive. I give no one my full attention and wonder why I am short-fused, frustrated and unfulfilled.
I work hard. I do my job faithfully. To what end? I can relate to Elijah, the prophet whose best efforts left him wandering in the wilderness saying, “Enough of this.”
Elijah. He, too, was at the end of his rope. Looking, hoping, praying for direction. Are you exasperated by the promotion process to get tenure, wondering what major would lead to a rewarding and fulfilling life or fearful budget shortfalls will stop you dead in your tracks? Have you taken those closest to you for granted? Are you tired, bone tired? Me too.
St. Teresa of Avilla reportedly said, “God, if this is the way you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few.” Preach it, sister!
If you, too, think God could do a much better job by focusing a bit more and attending to details, sit back, settle in and listen up. That’s what Elijah did, and I need to do.
Elijah listened for the voice of God on the television (scripture says hurricane-force winds, but this is my translation). Nothing. Elijah checked for God’s e-mail hourly (Hebrew says he looked in an earthquake – my translation again). Nothing. Elijah waited for God’s call, making certain his cell phone was on (Hebrew says he searched the fire). Nothing.
Like me, like you, Elijah was done, weary, worn out, dog tired and used up. He quit looking and gave up listening. If you have ever cared for a newborn baby, you know what is softer than soft, quieter than quiet and stiller than still. If you have nudged and poked a precious gift of God so you might perceive the imperceptible; if you breathed a sigh of relief and delight when you caught that which you yearned to hear: the soft, soundless, breath of a baby, you know what to listen for.
Elijah caught it in the silence, after he had given up on the cacophony of wind, earthquake and fire. It was then, and only then, that he caught the still, small voice of God.
God still speaks in whispers difficult to be heard if we are unwilling to turn off the TV, silence our cell phones, put our computers to sleep and place our iPods out of reach.
And what, pray tell, was God’s word to Elijah? What, please explain, is God’s word to us? They are one in the same. Here is God’s word for you, to you. God’s life-giving, healing, forgiving, hope-filled word if you and I will but listen. 1 Kings, chapter 19, verse 13, God says: “What are you doing?”
That’s it. A question. The question. “What are you doing?”
This is God’s answer to our busyness and lostness and tiredness. A question soft as a baby’s breath. Accusing, comforting, promising, healing if we but listen. “What are you doing?”
It’s just the sort of thing we have come to expect from God. God, who would hide the Savior in a stable and life in death, hides the answer in the question.
“What are you doing?” This is God’s question for us.
“What are you doing?” This is God’s answer for us. Be still. Be silent. Wait patiently. Listen to the question very, very carefully. Listen for the still, small voice of God.