"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.
Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 1 Kings 19:11-13
I have never heard God actually speak to me. I know it's possible, because I know people who talk to God all the time. Yet, I do mention from time to time how God tells me things, and God has told me things. He talks to me through my Bible, through my conscience/feelings via the Holy Spirit, through other people, through my Pastor, through my situations, and sometimes through my children. (Sometimes through the children in a big way!) But I've never had that voice in my head that I thought was what it would be like to have God actually talk to me.
I've been reading my Bible front to back since the fifth of January. Our church did a corporate fast, and for myself, I chose to fast from reading anything other than the Bible- which is a huge deal for me. Anyone who knows me knows I always have my nose in several books and magazines at the same time. Leading up to the fast, I was praying about what I should fast, and God gently showed me how much time I was spending reading- but not reading His Word. I would maybe read a chapter in the morning, maybe just a few verses, but I could easily spend an hour reading a book during my lunch time. So for the ten day fast, I started in Genesis and anytime I felt like reading, I picked up my Bible. Once the fast was done, I decided to keep going, so every day at lunch time, instead of reading my books or flipping through a magazine, I'm reading the Bible, and even reading at the fast pace that I am, I catch so many wonderful things that I may have just not noticed before.
Like today's passage. Today's passage leaped off the page in a big way several weeks ago. I was reading, and when I got to "after the fire came a gentle whisper" I froze solid. If I'd have been standing, I would have had to sit. I'd always assumed that if God chose to talk to me with a voice, that it would be deep and booming, and full of authority and command. But this gentle whisper... I instantly was taken back to a day late last summer where I was lazing about in bed. It was one of those decadent mornings where the kids were already up, but I was taking my time rolling out of bed, and dozing in and out. When I swear, I heard an audible male voice whisper right in my right ear "Erika." Was all it was, but it made me sit up straight and tall, and open my eyes big and wide. I glanced around, but saw no one, thought about how Andy was working out of town and not home, and maybe this was God's way of saying I should get up. And as I thought about it some more, getting dressed, I wondered if God was trying to help me out and if unexpected company was dropping in, so I spent that morning cleaning the house up a bit, and over time, generally forgot about that whisper.
And now, after reading that passage in 1 Kings 19, I am filled with regret and sadness that I did not recognize that whisper for what it was. What would God have told me had I recognized His voice and His gentle whisper and simply said "Yes, Lord." Instead I was so focused on the natural and the now, that I looked around, looking for a physical answer to the voice I'd heard. It didn't come from my head- that much I know, and I can still hear that whisper plain as day. What if I'd responded how I should have, with that "Yes, Lord" or "Here I Am"?
"And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, "Jacob! Jacob!" "Here I am," he replied." Genesis 46:2
"In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, "Ananias!" "Yes, Lord," he answered." Acts 9:10
I've been dwelling on this ever since. I've certainly apologized to God for my stubborn human-ness, and I've asked Him to give me another chance. At the same time though, I have to confess, that actually hearing the voice of God is a step that frightens me a bit. Am I really ready for that? Only God can know, and when He thinks I'm ready, He'll speak again. And I am so thankful for the one whisper I did have. Of all the people in the world, he chose to whisper to me, and that is something amazing to think of.