Why Are You Here?
Dear Kaleid Ladies,
Do you find that the weather reflects your mood? Are the longer days and sunnier touches of Spring bringing lightness to your spirit? Chances are, yes!
Today, in Kaleid’s Lent series, we are remaining with Elijah’s wilderness story. We can all recall sensing an invitation to see and hear God through nature. Elijah’s story reminds us of the way that God can speak to our souls through a stunning sunset or simple stillness.
This Week’s Story:
In I Kings 19, we read that Elijah’s two angelic meals and two solid naps have given him the strength to walk forty days to Mt. Horeb, “God’s mountain.” He is traveling into the wilderness, getting closer to God.
Arriving at Mt. Horeb, Elijah goes into a cave where God poses a simple question, “Why are you here, Elijah?”
Apparently, Elijah’s nap, meal, and forty day walk haven’t resolved his fiery and lonely frustration. His reply betrays intense feelings: “I’ve been very passionate for the Lord God of heavenly forces because the Israelites have abandoned your covenant. They have torn down your altars, and they have murdered your prophets with the sword. I’m the only one left, and now they want to take my life too!” (I Kings 19:10, CEB)
He is mad. He is righteously angry, in fact. And he’s lonely, but in a threatened way.
Elijah’s passion has yielded the frustrating outcome of lonely indignation. It’s not hard to imagine that his forty day walk involved a steady stream of internal dialogue peppered with, “I knew it!” and “Those people…!” and “How on earth am I supposed to…?” and “How will God survive without me!?” and “How will I survive?”
God is (as always) present and gracious in the wilderness. What’s next is worth reading, straight up.
The Lord said, “Go out and stand at the mountain before the Lord. The Lord is passing by.” A very strong wind tore through the mountains and broke apart the stones before the Lord. But the Lord wasn’t in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake. But the Lord wasn’t in the earthquake. After the earthquake, there was a fire. But the Lord wasn’t in the fire. After the fire, there was a sound. Thin. Quiet. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his coat. He went out and stood at the cave’s entrance. A voice came to him and said, “Why are you here, Elijah?” - I Kings 19:11-13 (CEB)
This mysterious theophany is curious for many reasons. One, we are led to wonder, “Why all the fireworks that precede the thin, quiet silence?” Also, it is fascinating that after the show of natural wonder, God poses the exact same question to Elijah, “Why are you here?” and, in verse 14, Elijah repeats the exact same answer. Verbatim.
But somehow, something is different now.
What if the wind and the earthquake and the fire are God’s way of relating to Elijah’s inner, chaotic, 40-day rant? What if God is steering Elijah through the tumult of his lonely indignation back to a centered place? What if, in some strange way, this natural cacophony is God empathizing with Elijah by mirroring his inner chaos?
What if the thin, quiet sound is an invitation to breathe, to start over and say it again...this time, with presence, and with God?
And, what if Elijah’s verbatim answer is now less of an accusation at God and more of a vulnerable surrender to God? What if the exact same words come from the mouth of a man who is now willing to be openly vulnerable in a trusting way rather than brutally honest in an accusing way?
What if we all need to know that God’s empathy is cosmic and that our “telling it like it is” can be on the basis of trust and surrender, instead of gritty endurance, angsty blame, or the false pretense of “I’m fine”?
What if we can bring all of our chaos to God and find that there is a thin, quiet, welcome space where we can be real and God is waiting to listen?
A Wilderness Practice:
Today, would you be willing to go toward a wilderness encounter by way of Elijah’s experience with God? Set aside 15 minutes to pray with these prompts, perhaps using your journal or sitting under a favorite tree for a conversation with the Lord.
God of storms in the wilderness, you want to know why I’m here. My stormy heart answers in this way...
(Now, sit still for 3 - 5 minutes and listen. Just be open to the sounds around you and listen for God’s gracious presence.)
God of thin, quiet, holy presence, you want to know why I’m here. My surrendered heart answers in this way...
We are so thankful to be on this journey with you!
The Kaleid Team