After reading Elijah's "lesson in might"--that God is not in the cataclysms of nature, but rather almost undetectable in His immensity--we have a powerful image of Elijah standing in the opening of the cave. The surrounding countryside is devastated: upheaved, torn rocks, gaping ravines where it had once been smooth, and fire-ravaged, charred tree stumps. The prophet stands looking out on the changed landscape. His reaction?
He pulls his cloak over his face. This is totally beyond him. God of the gentle whisper has spoken. Elijah, the man who faced down 950 prophets in a holy power encounter, has deepened his awareness and appreciation for Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. He is subdued. (And I chose to make this poem less dense by lightening it with his own comic relief: he probably realised he was taking himself and life too seriously. Who of us doesn't now and then?)
Advent, day 13. The Whisper and the Voice.
1 Ki 19:13 When Elijah heard it (the gentle whisper), he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Not in the wind, or earthquake, or fire
Spectacular dramas of strength!
Lord God, Almighty, no one is higher,
Why do You go to such lengths
To elude and confuse and muddle my brain?
I wonder some days if I am quite sane.
Feeling deserted, that I was a token
Of faith, who to Baal would not bow;
Your prophets all killed and your altars all broken,
The people rejected their vow
To You and to heaven. They followed their gods;
I was one, overwhelmed by the odds.
But when a small voice whispered my name,
I knew all at once it was You.
My fear I forgot, I was back in the game—
Please show me next what to do.
Here I stand with my cloak pulled over my face,
Knowing now that I’m standing by grace.
I heard the voice at the mouth of the cave—
His whisper makes me feel brave.