In many ways, this year has been strangely quiet for me.
While many of my obligations have picked up in one way or another over the past few months, the normal hustle and bustle of everyday life has been muted. The sounds of laughter and happily raised voices from a cozy living room are absent. I yearn for the hum of conversation and the clinking of glasses in a busy restaurant. As a teacher I miss the buzz of a classroom of curious learners busy with their work. There’s a certain stillness in the air, as if the world has slowed its turning.
In other ways, though, the sounds of this year have been deafening (and not just due to the soundtrack of shrieks coming from my own children). There is the ceaseless pull of the news, of podcasts, of social media. There are arguments breaking out among family and friends, and the palpable sound of the tension caused by sidestepping controversial topics. There is the constant blaring of the next great Netflix show that distracts us during the typical quiet of the evenings.
While none of the sounds that are most present in my life these days are “bad” in and of themselves, I have often found myself feeling that the onslaught of noise has not always been necessary information or even a welcome distraction.
Sometimes, the consumption of noise may also be masking the sound of a unique and important opportunity.
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. 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
Elijah looked for God in the wind, in an earthquake, in a fire. He looked for God to show up in a loud display of power and authority.
But that isn’t the way God chose to speak to Elijah in that moment.
When God spoke, it was in a low whisper. And only after Elijah heeded the Lord’s instruction and stood in silence, waiting on the Lord.
How often do we miss this whisper because we’re too busy looking for him in the roaring of the wind?
How often do we miss this whisper because we never stand on the mountain in silence and listen?
In the midst of all of the consumption, I don’t believe I’m the only one that may be missing the sounds that fill our souls. But instead of filling those voids with the noise of the world, what if we spent more time just listening to the silence? What if we spent more time listening for the small voice of the Holy Spirit?
This week, as we face what for many of us may be a very different Thanksgiving, let’s make sure to take a moment to quiet the noise. As we reflect on what we’re thankful for, let’s give praise for the ways God is still working, even when we don’t feel it.
And let’s listen to the small voice of the Holy Spirit as He quietly leads us, step by step, to our next great adventure.