11 The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” 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. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
— 1 Kings 19:11–13 (NIV84)
Reading this account of Elijah’s encounter with the Holy One, I am awestruck at what is happening. I dare not minimize the “destructive” power of the wind, the earthquake, and the fire. Was Elijah terrified as the Israelites were in days of old when the fire was on the mountain (cf. Ex. 20:18-21)? I would suppose so.
But let us not get lost in this. For the LORD was not in any of these as He was in days of yore. No…, and remember, Elijah had just participated in calling fire down from heaven, so perhaps his expectations were similar: The LORD is going to show up in some dramatic, awesome way….
But He didn’t; not once, not twice, but three times He didn’t show up. HIS point? I think one aspect He was trying to teach us is: “Don’t miss me by expecting how I AM going to show up.”
All this to say, as we enter this month of Prayer and Fasting with our goal to seek the LORD’s Face, let us not have set or fixed expectation as to how the Holy One is going to “show up”. Now if you do not need this reminder, the pretend you are reading a page out of my personal journal because I do. Nevertheless, I am praying that I am alert to the LORD’s presence whether it is through His Word, through His People, through His “gentle whisper,” that “still small voice.” Or even through others we may not even know. But if we are alert, we will sense His presence. And our response? Perhaps as Elijah did: We will humbly pull our cloaks over our faces and stand at attention, “Yes, LORD, ‘Speak, for Your servant is listening’” (1 Samuel 3:10 NIV84).
Hope in His Appearing,