And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 1 Kings 19:12.
I sit in Barnes & Noble, creamy Earl Grey tea steaming next to my left hand, my Bible unfolded to 1 Kings 19 as it has been for days as I drink it into my parched spirit, over and over. I have started this paragraph & deleted it – many times. I do not know what to reveal, what to protect.
I will speak frankly. I am in the midst of a bloated, messy, bloody temper tantrum with God.
I beg Him to intervene for my justice, for my calling, for a redemptive outcome in a whirling vortex of circumstances over which I have no control. (Child, perhaps My redemption will unfurl in an unexpected way. I see you. Do you see Me?)
I hesitate, because there is much at stake. I want a specific outcome, a safe outcome, an outcome that costs something but not everything. We may step into the redemptive healing of the outcome we believe is right; but we may not. We must simply wait to see.
Lord, there is no sin in the outcome I desire. We have been through so much pain. We have seen Your glory. You have done the work. Please do this for us.
Beloved, I know all of that. Will you trust Me with it? Keep your eyes on Me. I see you. Do not look to the right or to the left. Do not look at the rocky ground beneath you or the swarm of hoverers around you. Look up at Me. I see you.
1 Kings 19 tells the story of Elijah’s heart after a staggering miracle God had done through him. Elijah had challenged 450 prophets of Baal to a battle of worship. They lost. Elijah commanded the convicted Israelites to kill every one of the pagan prophets, effectively purifying God’s people from corrupt worship and lifting a (literal) drought on the rebellious land. The rains fell on the parched land after the pagan slaughter, washing away judgment. A clean start for God’s people. All because of Elijah’s faithful obedience to the God of Israel.
Did Elijah rejoice wildly in the work of God? Did he throw a giant party? Did he kneel in thankful worship? Did he relish the healing that God had done through Him?
He threw a bloated, messy, bloody temper tantrum with God.
Queen Jezebel (boo. hissss.) threatened to kill him for murdering her prophets. Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. 1 Kings 19:3. He fled to the desert, where he flung himself under a tree in empty turmoil. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it, and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough Lord,” he said. 1 Kings 19:4.
Yes. Elijah is my homeboy. A mighty work of God, followed by a mighty big fit.
God’s response? Judgement? Lightning bolt? Stern reminders of the miracles for which He had consecrated His beloved prophet? Get your head back in the game, Elijah! Stop being such a baby! Maybe you aren’t cut out for this……
No. None of that.
As a Father has compassion on His children, so the Lord has compassion on us; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust. Ps.103:13-14.
The Lord sent angels to serve Elijah. He tucked him in for days of restful sleep. He asked him for his grievances, then listened to his heart. His God spoke over him in a gentle whisper, the only language that a defeated Elijah was able to receive in those cloistered moments.
Then the Lord showered Elijah with grace. In those quiet whispers, God promised Elijah a smoother path under the leadership of his life. He promised him a partner, Elisha, a companion in his lonely mission. The grace of leadership, the grace of community, the grace of a God who sees us in our most desperate hours and shepherds us with tender strength and intervening mercy.
Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few. 1 Sam.14:6.
Right now I sit under the broom tree. I have had enough, Lord. But I fix my eyes wholly on the God of the gentle whisper, my Jesus who remembers that I am dust in a fragile vessel, merely earth and breath. My eyes fill with tears as I remember who I am and the cost to redeem my broken life. I bow before Who He Is, my El Roi, the Strong One Who Sees Me (Gen.16:13), who knows me, who shelters me and speaks tenderly to me.
Spill out your temper tantrum, beloved. You are safe with me. But lock eyes with me – and trust me.
What does He whisper to you?