And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” 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. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 1 Kings 19:11-12
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 1 Corinthians 3:17
Walk more slowly. Talk less. Look more carefully. Listen more closely. Because the world is loud, and God whispers. This advice was shared with me a few years ago before we left for a trip to the Holy Land. It was good advice then. It is good advice today as well; for the world is still loud, and too often we think of God’s presence and reign as boisterous and intrusive. But that is not the way of God.
Nor is God’s reign over the world today what we wish it would be in others’ lives. For we would like God to prevent others from doing evil, punishing, smiting, and intruding into the lives of those who would do evil, while letting us go our merry way, pursuing our own pleasures and peccadillos.
God’s reign, however, is not most fully advanced in tornadoes or hurricanes. It is not when earthquakes or fires encroach that his most powerful work is done. These may shake our core, challenge our sense of security, and send us to our knees in fear. But they do not bring us to God. Nor do they establish his most complete rule on earth.
When a sinner hears the Good News of God’s love in Jesus, and realizes that God’s intentions are entirely good – as is his entire being – then repents and believes; then the fullness of God’s rule and reign begins. When people repent and believe the Good News (cf. Mark 1:14-15), a powerful influence of God unfolds. God whispers his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Holy Spirit moves us to love God and neighbor. There is a delightful freedom with the Spirit’s presence.
God’s most profound expression of power and reign is not loud, obnoxious, or intrusive. It is in the still small whisper of his grace and love, forgiveness, and salvation; and it points us toward a freedom nowhere else to be found.