Thursday, April 19, 2012

Finding God in the Quiet Times (1 Kings 19:11-13)

Yesterday afternoon, I posted that I was eating dinner at Five Guys Burgers and Fries alone before having a series of family related errands and activities.  One thing that happened last night was taking in way too many calories--a double patty, Five Guys burger with cheese, jalapeno peppers, and mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, and pickles, and an entire regular order of fries with malt vinegar followed by a small order at TCBY later after my middle son's concert.  Another thing that happened is that I was exhausted by the time I got home and did the dishes so the work I planned to do last night got done very early this morning.  With all the other stuff that went on--picking up one child from a guitar lesson, picking up a second from hockey, and then seeing a concert--it was also very busy.  But, when I was reading the Wall Street Journal and eating in relative peace and quiet with just a few other people at five guys I did have an insight.  I thought of 1 Kings 19:11-13 (although I did have to look up the actual verses to make sure I knew where to find the story of Elijah).  From the Catholic Bible...

Then the LORD said: Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will pass by. There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD—but the LORD was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the LORD was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire—but the LORD was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
Of all the places for this verse to come to me, I'm not sure why it came to me at Five Guys.  It didn't occur to me in prayer at night or in the morning.  It didn't occur to me in the church.  It didn't occur to me as I teach my kids in Sunday school.  It occurred to me at Five Guys.  Why?  I suppose because that was one of the very few times in the past week that I have actually stopped and say down without doing something that needed to be immediately done.  Even if it was just for 30 minutes.  I was at ease.  And that is when I felt the presence of God.  

When I think of the different ways that God was not passing by Elijah I can think of what they might symbolize.  The wind--strong and consistent and obviously powerful.  The earthquake--gets you attention quite immediately.  The fire--gets your attention and can be maintained for quite some time.  These could be any number of events--positive or negative in my life.  Songs that go well when we play at mass.  Lessons that go well.  Praying alone.  Positive or negative events in my parenting, running, or career.  Each of these have power in my life.  Some are more obvious than others. Some come quickly.  Some last a while.  Some rock my world.  But, in none of them do I just stop and listen and wonder.

I can play music and sing about God.  That shows my devotion but it doesn't necessarily mean that I am listening for God to answer.  Teaching about God--I have to think about my relationship with God and how I model that for children.  But it doesn't show my listening to God.  Praying--again, clearly thinking about God, but not necessarily listening in return.  

But, when I just sat and could listen--in the same way that I would listen to a close friend and confidant--then I could hear God.

I'm not one to say, "God told me to do x, y, and z."  I'm one who thinks that God keeps tabs on me but that my decisions are ultimately free will. But I do think that God approves of some things I do more than others.  And, yesterday, I think that God was approving of the fact that I was just listening.

That is just the start--of course.  I have to go from just listening once in a while to setting aside more time to listen.  To make sure that to the degree possible, I am really hearing back from God that I am doing what is consistent with his will and not only seemingly consistent based on my own reasoning.

It is amazing how just slowing down for even a half hour--even while eating in a fast food restaurant--could help me with an insight into the need to listen for God's message.  Not just thinking about God.  Not just talking to God.  Not just hearing about God.  But actually listening for God.  How refreshing! 

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