Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Chapter 15 - God's Messengers

Chapter fifteen introduces us to the work of the prophets as they confronted the evil and idolatry that had become standard fare in the nation of Israel. Elijah, Elisha, Amos, and Hosea are featured in this chapter as bold proclaimers of God's simple and direct message - repent or be destroyed!

It's in this chapter that is recorded one of my favorite Old Testament stories - Elijah's meeting with God at the cave on Mount Horeb. Elijah has just experienced a great victory at Mount Carmel over the prophets of Baal, but in depression and desperation has fled to the wilderness. He's down in the dumps as he struggles with finding God in the mess that is Israel. He needs a fresh revelation of God and God gives it to him.

The Lord instructs Elijah to go to the mouth of his cave hideaway because He is 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 appears a gentle whisper and it is in this gentle whisper that God is present!

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 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 be revealed 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 their 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 teachers us a valuable lesson - God is found as we appreciate all the simple beauties all around us.

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!

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