In my last entry, “The Whoosh of Worship”, I wrote about the times when God‘s presence is tangibly manifested in the worshiping Church.
God still reveals His presence today in the “whoosh” of worship through His Holy Spirit. But not always! Sometimes God reveals Himself in worship through a quiet whisper.
During a time of great personal danger and spiritual exhaustion, the prophet Elijah once made a long journey to Horeb, also known as the mountain of God. His desire was to worship and meet with God in his time of personal need. The Bible tells us that God told Elijah He would reveal Himself there:
“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. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 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
In an age of over-the-top Super Bowl halftime shows, fantastic movie special effects, and technology-enhanced programs and games our world increasingly relies on intense sensory experiences to feel good. Sensory stimulation can be like a drug, leading people to crave the latest event to satisfy their need. The danger for Christ followers is that following this path can lead to focusing on the experience of worshiping God rather than on the ONE we worship.
God cut through the experience hype in revealing Himself to Elijah. God, who owns the wind, shaped the earth, and whose presence brings holy fire, could easily have taken this approach. But He didn’t, because God knew what Elijah needed was not some fantastic sensory event but the quiet breath of His Holy Presence.
Elijah needed to get past his pre-conceived expectations of worshiping God, becoming still and ready to meet and listen to God as He quietly whispered. When Elijah finally recognized God’s voice, he was able to pour out his need and hear God’s answer and directive, which he obeyed and followed.
I am amazed to think that God speaks both with unrivaled power and gentle compassion to those who know Him intimately. In Psalm 46:10 God stated:
“Be still and know that I am God”.
This is God’s invitation to those who love him to quietly approach and rest in Him, and also His thunderous command to those who reject Him.
The experience of worship should not be our aim. Rather, experiencing God in worship is our goal. The first step for Christ followers is to come humbly and expectantly before God in worship, and then have ears, minds, hearts, and being open to hearing His voice, whether it comes as a whoosh or a whisper.
Blessings to you,