One of my favorite Old Testament stories is about a prophet of God named Elijah. He was often harassed by the wicked king of Israel, Ahab, and his even more wicked wife, Jezebel. In spite of this formidable opposition, Elijah experienced more than a few victories for the Lord. One of those included an impressive victory over the prophets of a pagan god Baal on Mount Carmel. He challenged the false prophets to a divine duel and the Lord showed up big-time displaying his power by sending fire from heaven.
It was certainly a highlight of Elijah's ministry, but his celebration was short-lived as Ahab and Jezebel ramped up their efforts to silence this prophet of God. Elijah, running for his life, found himself alone and depressed in a cave in the wilderness. God, who had seemed so present on Mount Carmel, seemed all too silent as Elijah moped in the cave. He needed a fresh revelation of God and God gave it to him - but not in the way he expected.
The Lord instructed Elijah to go to the mouth of his cave hideaway because He was about to pass by. A great and powerful wind, an earthquake, and a fire all appear but neither of these carry the presence of God. Following these action-movie-like demonstrations quietly appeared a gentle whisper, and it is in this gentle whisper that God is present!
The lesson Elijah needed to learn was that God is in the simple, quiet, routine facets of life. That is a hushed message that speaks deafeningly to me every time I read it.
In college I saw a production of Thornton Wilder's Our Town that has left an impression on me that lasts until this day. The story is of a simple New Hampshire town, Grover's Corners, at the turn of the 20th century. It reveals a rather dull story-line with rather dull characters living rather dull lives. Wilder's purpose for this play begins to unfold when Emily, one of the major characters, dies in childbirth and in the realm of the after-life is given a chance to relive one day of her rather dull life.
But as she returns to Grover's Corners everything that was dull is full of life and excitement, not because anything had changed but because even though it was dull it was LIFE! As she says her goodbyes she tearfully bids adieu to the simple things in life - things like freshly ironed dresses and warm baths. And then she utters words that still ring in my mind - Doesn’t anyone realize life while they're living it? Every, every minute.
Wilder has taught us a valuable lesson - life is only dull when we fail to realize that the beauty of life is gift-wrapped in the gentle whispers all around us! Likewise Elijah teaches us a valuable lesson - God is found as we appreciate all the simple beauties surrounding us. He is not only present in the dramatic, fire-from-heaven scenes; He's present in those gentle whispers.
Anyone who has lost someone they love longs for all those simple treasures - a soft caress, just hearing their voice, the twinkle in their eye, a simple meal together. Perhaps one of the secrets of life is to appreciate those simple treasures while we have them. Perhaps one of the secrets of life is to be perceptive enough to see God in all the gentle whispers of life.
May God grant us the ability to live life - every, every minute!