Before I get into today’s passage, as I sit here listening to Citizen Way (on Spotify because I don’t own a copy of their CD yet, but the more I listen to them, the more I like them), I’m stuck by how thankful I am. As of today, I have reached five followers on this blog! I know that doesn’t seem like much, but it feels wonderful to me.
And I’m not, like, counting success by how many people are visiting this page and listening to what I have to say. It’s just comforting and encouraging to know that other people care about what I have to say and like it enough that they’re not only willing to come back but actually want to be notified about it!
So I just wanted to thank you guys – all of you out there reading and especially you guys following me. And more than that, I want to thank God for setting me on this path and having me start this blog. I only hope and pray that y’all are as touched by this study as I have been and as I currently am by you.
Anyway – enough of that. On to the study (again, I’m getting really bad about doing this late at night. Perhaps I should just switch to doing it this late every night so that you get it first thing in the morning! Hm…)!
(NIV1984) 1 Kings 19:11b-13a – “Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.”
What does it mean for Elijah to pull his cloak over his face? He hid his eyes so that he would not see God (possibly)? But then – remember Moses and his first encounter with God at Horeb, when he saw the burning bush. He also “hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.” (NIV1984, Exodus 3:6). Perhaps this clues us in to how Elijah is feeling – is he also afraid to look at God, just like Moses was? Or is this out of respect for God and His holiness?
Anyway – what does this section tell us about the LORD and His relationship with Elijah?
First of all – Elijah knew which of these the LORD was in – not any of the destructive forces, but the encouraging and gentle one. Elijah knew God was gentle (with him) – which we’ve seen with God’s interactions with the broken Elijah in this chapter.
Interesting commentary here – although the LORD appeared in the fire to the Israelites at Horeb, He did not do so here. He was only the voice. That’s cool. 🙂
Secondly, Elijah has enough respect for God to humble himself and cover his face (or perhaps he is just afraid of his previous actions?).
Third, Elijah still obeyed God – he did go out and stood on the mountain (in the LORD’s presence?) – but he waited (until it was safe?) to do so. He didn’t go out in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire. He didn’t go out when God wasn’t in it. And that, too, is interesting – God gave Elijah this command, but Elijah still had to wait before it came to fruition (just like the rain which Elijah still had to pray for multiple times).
Application? (And here’s where this may differ a bit more than normal from my original thoughts on this….) Me and teaching. Me and writing. Me and grad. school. Me and “Go.”
Now – I suppose I should explain this a bit. I believe very strongly that God wants me to write. I’ve had a love for writing from a very early age; I was writing stories by fifth grade (if not earlier), and my elementary school librarian helped me to actually make a hard copy of one of them – it was all laminated and spiral bound and my best friend at the time did most of the illustrations – it was a pretty big deal. I’ve been encouraged so much to keep writing and have stories that I want to tell – and so many writer friends who encourage me to do better and who I hope that I am encouraging.
Now – with teaching – it’s been a much more bumpy path. I’m not even sure that’s what I’m supposed to do. I went through a period of time where I told people that’s what God was calling me to, and even pursued the Master’s of Education program at my college for a little while before eventually dropping out of it (this is a short overview, but it tore me up at the time because I thought I was giving up on something God wanted me to do. I basically told Him that if He wanted me to do it, He’d have to make the way for it…. Kind of like with my job, but a lot more emotional than that). I’ve worked with middle school children at a three week summer experience (more than a camp – they take a college class and it’s super phenomenal), and I’ve done this multiple times. I love working with these kids, and I love being around them. If you asked me why, I’m not sure I could explain where that love comes from. I just love working with kids.
Right now, I hope to save up for a couple of years so that I have enough money to do Teach For America (assuming, of course, that my application went through and they let me in). But I’m not even sure if that’s the right thing or just something I’m clinging onto because I want to work with kids and that seems the easiest (and most personally beneficial) way of doing it.
The thing about TFA is that it also works well with the last one of those – the “Me and ‘Go.'” part. I believe very strongly that God has called me to go. I have no clue where that is exactly or how that’ll come out in my life – but I do believe He’s called me to go – and especially to those who have less than I do. I mean – that’s what Christ did – He came down from His high and lofty position, giving up His entire life, just to be with me (with us!) and to save me (to save us!). I feel very strongly that I should do the same thing. Somehow – and God will lead me there, I know that He will.
TFA fits both of these goals because not only would I be teaching and working with kids, but I would also be helping those with less than me – I would be giving back. SO…I don’t know.
And as far as grad. school is concerned – y’all saw in an earlier post how I’m not going to grad. school this next year. I do still plan on applying to at least one school (doubt I’ll get in, but why not apply?). I’m not sure if that’s what I’m supposed to do.
But, yeah, enough background about me and more about the application (and, again, using myself as an explanation because I’m…really the only one I have to go on here. And examples help me a lot, so maybe this will help you, too?).
Like I said before, I believe that God wants me to write. That doesn’t mean I’ll be published immediately or even that my writing must be at a publishable level now. He’s given me more on this front, I think, because since I first wrote my response to this passage (in early December of 2012), not only has He had me start this blog, but I’ve also started posting fanfiction (yeah, yeah, judge me if you want, but it really does help me with my writing…and there are so many stories…and I could rant on that for a while, but I won’t take up your time doing that). I do think God once told me to teach, but I don’t know how that will be fulfilled (and with the lack of the aforementioned summer experience job this summer (which is part of why I was applying for a job – long story, but I can see some of why this is a better option, and I’m thankful to God for that!), teaching seems so much farther away than it once did). And, as I said before, I do feel God calling me and leading me to “Go” to people who do not have as He came for me – to love them enough to give my life for them, though I don’t know what all that entails (and I hope y’all aren’t reading this as bigoted, because it’s totally not meant that way).
At the time I wrote my response to this in early December, I thought that meant grad. school. I wanted to go, but so many obstacles kept coming up. I thought that either meant God was trying to tell me that it was a bad plan or satan was trying to keep me from doing what God wanted of me. I wanted to go to grad. school then, and I did think that was right, but I determined that maybe right then I needed to wait. And I was okay with that.
So – the application – maybe I just need to remember that even though I think I can maybe see where God wants me to go with my life, and maybe there are some very important commands He’s given me – that doesn’t mean I don’t need to wait. That doesn’t mean everything happens immediately right now. I still need to wait until I hear God’s voice telling me what to do – until I hear that still, small voice leading me out into His presence.
The last thing I want to address in this passage is this: that when Elijah was weak, God was not in the destructive, powerful forces. He was in the gentle whisper. This is not to say that God is not powerful or does not control those destructive forces – He is and He does and He may use them to get our attention sometimes – but right now, when everything else around Elijah seems so overwhelmingly destructive, God is there to remind him that that is not Him. God is gentle and whispers to us. Yes, He disciplines, but He also strengthens and comforts and encourages. And it seems to me that this specific encounter is meant to strengthen and comfort.