Turn Off Your Phone and Listen
“Linda! Linda, just listen to me!” Three-year-old Mateo was clearly getting frustrated with his mom. When she said, “No cupcakes,” Mateo disagreed. After all, he was at Grandma’s house, and everybody knows Grandma makes the rules at her house, not Mom.
Mateo’s mom wanted to set her little boy straight, but each time she began to correct him, Mateo protested with “Linda! Linda! Listen to me!”
Obviously, Mateo’s mom found some humor in the whole thing, because she recorded it and posted it on YouTube. From there it went viral and eventually found its way to me.
I thought Mateo was a riot, but after a few moments I quit laughing because I began to wonder if I ever act a bit like Mateo in my prayers. Am I too often so concerned with being heard that I miss what God is saying? Is he speaking, but I can’t hear him because I never embrace the silence?
I don’t think I’m the only one. Sometimes it seems our world is afraid of silence. It seems like almost every moment of the day is filled with motion and sound. Even in the middle of the night, our phones buzz and beep. The never-ending noise can be exhausting!
The Bible encourages us to practice periods of silence before God. I love this verse from Habakkuk: “The LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him” (Habakkuk 2:20).
Wow... isn’t that beautiful?
One of my favorite stories about God speaking in the silence is found in the book of 1 Kings. When we find the prophet Elijah here, he was utterly exhausted. For weeks on end, he had been about the work of the Lord, fighting against the forces of idolatry in Israel. Elijah had been incredibly courageous for God but when the wicked queen, Jezebel, sent Elijah a message that she was coming for his life, it was the last straw. Elijah couldn’t take it anymore. He became overwhelmed by it all, and filled with despair.
And… he ran. He just ran away.
Poor Elijah was so discouraged that he couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel anymore. As a matter of fact, when I read 1 Kings 19, I see a man who is so at the end of himself that he doesn’t even know what he needs to feel better. I totally get that!
Elijah certainly needed a break from the chaos of the conflict and the noise of the battlefield, but God knew that what Elijah needed more than anything else for his weary soul was to hear a word from him. So God drew Elijah away from it all, away into the stillness and silence of the wilderness, where Elijah could hear God’s voice.
God led Elijah deep into the desert to the mountain of God, sheltered him in a cave there and told him to get ready because God was about to pass by. First, there was a violent wind—so powerful it broke apart the mountain and shattered rocks. But God wasn’t in the wind. Next, there was an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake either. After the earthquake, there was a fire, but God wasn’t in the fire. Then, after all of these loud, powerful events, there came a gentle whisper.