Script - 1 Kings 19:12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper
At the close of last weeks devotions I suggested that obedience to God (the discovery of our truest and best selves) required of us heart knowledge and not just head knowledge. In other words, if we are to be obedient to God, it is not just accepting a list of doctrines and concepts that is required, but a heart shaped by the justice, mercy, compassion and creativity of God as revealed through scripture and the incarnation of Christ. In order for us as disciples to develop an obedient heart, we first learn to listen. And this week, we will contemplate some of the listening practicess that will prepare us to hear and obey God.
At first glance Elijah isn't discerning the will of God in today's story. Elijah is fleeing, in fear and disappointment, the wrath of King Ahab and his queen Jezebel. This happens just after his courageous prophetic action against idolatry, speaking the truth of God to the politically powerful. So Jezebel seeks to take Elijah's life and he flees. But Elijah doesn't flee away from God as Jonah did. Instead Elijah runs toward God. Elijah flees to Mt. Horeb, called the mountain of God, the location from which God delivered the 10 Commandments to Moses. Elijah flees to a thin place where the presence of God is experienced. Elijah runs toward a location where God's will is perceived and known.
Notice how isolated Elijah becomes. He travels for days. He goes hungry in order to be fed by the angel of God. Listening for God takes time and space. It cannot be done quickly. This kind of prayerful discernment cannot be crammed into already over-scheduled lives. Time is required. No multi-tasking, no time limit. Listening is open-ended and ongoing. It cannot be rushed. Space too is required. Space being a metaphor for silence. Elijah has to let go of his own agenda (I have had enough...take my life,) and the usual methods of strengthening and renewal (waiting for the surprising food from the angel). In our own experience this means taking time to leave behind the usual sources of our opinions, the voices that shape our worldview, and our dearly help beliefs, in order to create space for the word of God to be planted and take root.
We participate in God shaping in us obedient hearts, when we take time and make space to listen carefully to the voice of God calling, encouraging, challenging and loving us.
Quote – Psalm 62:1 For God alone my soul waits in silence
Prayer – We thank you, shepherd of rest who leads us beside still waters, for the gift of your peace. Forgive us our addiction to speed, productivity and being busy. Enable us to create time to be still and silent so that we can listen for you. In those moments, shape us, we pray, into patient, merciful and obedient disciples.