I realize that at times, God splits the sea, pulls down city walls, and thunders from scorched mountains, but it seems that He prefers to work through a still, small voice as He did with Elijah. This still, small voice is a reference from the story in 1 Kings 19:11–13 that tells of the prophet Elijah standing alone on a mountain—the same mountain on which the Lord had passed by Moses generations earlier. Elijah experienced a mighty and tremendous wind tearing into the rocks, but the Lord was not in the wind. Then an earthquake violently shook the mountain, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. Then a fire came, but the Lord was not in its burning flames. Finally, a gentle breeze blew, and a still, small voice spoke to Elijah.
God was not in the whirlwind, earthquake, or blazing fire but in this soft voice. Earthshaking thunder and tempests may awaken us, but they will not transform us. The call of the still, small voice is heard in the depths of our being, and it awakens us through this deepest experience. There in stillness, the deepest and most beautiful truths about God are hidden, waiting to be revealed
In this intimate encounter, a captivating revelation of God’s character manifests. I have no doubt that God has a soft yet distinct voice that demands that we be clear about what He is and is not. There was no pressure or force in the gentle whisper that persuaded and wooed Elijah. God wanted Elijah to pay attention to what was perhaps a redefining moment, when God’s revelation seems to undercut the raw and powerful showdown on Mount Carmel.
God did not seem moved by the shouting, the noise, or the killing of all the bad guys in the aftermath of Mount Carmel. The childish taunt of “my God is bigger than yours” was not the answer in the cleft of the rock. We might like that God is always bigger, tougher, and stronger than the bad guys, but that’s not the message Elijah received when the Lord passed by. The message was that God speaks in a light whisper. God’s still, small voice is a manifestation of His Presence; it represents Him. That’s how Jesus came—speaking with God’s voice. He was not the God of wind, earthquake, or fire but the God of the gentle voice. “‘Not by might or by power but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6).
God still shows Himself through a thick cloud pulsating with glory and power—but how is God using His power? When wind, earthquake, and fire are stripped away, what is left is the voice of God—the Word made flesh that dwelt among us in the person of Jesus (John 1:14). Might this deepen our understanding of God? Is God merely bigger and tougher than all the bad guys, doing the same as they do but better? Where does the secret of God’s power lie? If I only see God destroying the bad guys, what message will I receive? How we see God interacting throughout history impacts our view of Him. If I am not attentive to God’s call of love, I may adopt a “my dad can beat up your dad” strategy. You can’t hear a still, small voice when your God operates like a bulldozer.
I am convinced that my view of God’s character influences how I view the purpose of my faith and the Scripture itself. What God revealed to Elijah may differ from our expectations of God blasting from the sky to burn up His enemies. God’s power and presence captivated Elijah anew through a quiet love that awakened love at the depth of his being. Jesus clearly did not take the violent route but rather built on the definition of love and truth revealed in the still small voice. Jesus encourages us to reconsider how we look at the wind, earthquake, and fire. His light whisper of a voice is trying to tell us something about God’s character. Like Elijah, I want to find a place of quiet stillness in which it is possible to hear this soft voice whispering beautiful truths about God and then intensifying into the deepest experience of love.
Craig Ashton Jr.