After the Fire

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is 1 Kings 19:11-12.  The verses read as follows:

“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.”

As my screwed-up college sleep schedule kept me awake for the fourth night in a row, this verse popped into my head.  Being a student at a Bible college, the majority of my daily life is about finding the Lord in some way or another.  Whether we’re studying theology, surveying the Old Testament, or discussing life in spiritual community, our classes focus on pursuing the Lord.  With pursuit of Christ becoming a day-to-day, academic task, it’s easy for it to become impersonal.  To become stilted.  To get caught up in the noise, the friends, the grades, the papers, the chapel, the music, the conversations… and forget to listen for the gentle whisper.

Perhaps if a Moody student had been the one encountering the Lord in 1 Kings, the verses would go something like this:

“The Lord said, ‘Go out and sit in the plaza in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.  Then a large group of friends in laughing fellowship came and shared testimonies and good times, but the Lord was not in the large group of friends.  After the group of friends came there was a worship chapel, filled with emotion, swelling music, and raised hands, but the Lord was not in the worship chapel.  After the worship chapel came a series of final papers and exams about doctrine and the Bible, trying to figure out the intricacies of the Christian faith, but the Lord was not in the series of final papers and exams about doctrine and the Bible.  And after the finals papers and exams came Christmas break, solitude at long-last, and quiet bedrooms at home.  And in the quiet came a gentle whisper.”

This break has afforded me, literally, the first chance since January to think and process the events of the last year.  The thoughts are swirling through my head almost faster than I can register their existence, and I finally have time to acknowledge them as they come.  The result is a fair amount of journaling, listening to a lot of music, and sleeping at odd times.  There have been a lot of big events and changes in my life over the course of this past year… things that really deserve a day or two of processing, prayer, journaling.  And finally, finally I have a chance to process.  The fire has died down, and after the fire comes a gentle whisper.

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