A Devotion For The Fifth Week Of Lent

11 [The word of the Lord came to Elijah]:
"Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord,
for the Lord is about to pass by." Now there was a great wind,
so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks
in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind;
and after the wind an earthquake,
but the Lord was not in the earthquake;
12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire;
and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.
13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle
and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
Then there came a voice to him that said,
"What are you doing here, Elijah?"
—1 Kings 19:11-13

Dear friends in Christ,

     This morning before I got out of bed, I thought of this story about the prophet Elijah. I imagine him huddling in the cave, trembling because his life is in danger, and yet trusting that the Lord will show up as promised. As Elijah waits, he experiences a powerful wind, an earthquake, and a fire, and yet the Lord isn't present in any of these things. It's only after all these things have run their course that  Elijah hears a sound of sheer silence, and he intuitively knows that it's the Lord. 

     We all have our favorite Bible stories, and this is one I come back to over and over. Elijah's experience of encountering God in "a sound of sheer silence" resonates for me. I also appreciate that this encounter takes place in the moment Elijah steps out of the darkness and moves toward the toward the light a the entrance of the cave. And I love the fact that Elijah steps out in faith even though he's still clearly afraid. The fact that he wraps his face in his mantle before leaving the cave clues us in to his fear.

     I share this with you because I think the story of a fearful Elijah stepping out in faith speaks to where we find ourselves today. Like Elijah, we don't know how our time in the wilderness will end. Like Elijah, we're huddled in our personal "caves," trying to stay safe. Like Elijah, we pray and wait for God to show up, and God does show up!... Our God shows up in a sound of sheer silence that you and I can only hear when everything else has been stripped away.

     In closing, I want to share with you a poem I wrote in August 2017. I believe it speaks to where we find ourselves today. May God's peace and love hold you and yours now and always!

Pastor Michelle Manicke

Under cover of darkness
I wake and listen
to the sound of sheer silence.
In the stillness I sense 
the groaning of God’s creation
rising up from the earth,
carried on the gentle breeze.
This pain is ancient, 
yet ever new.
Like Elijah in the cave,
I wrap myself in the mantle
of my comforter.
Nestled safely under its soft weight,
I dare to listen deeply
and peer into the darkness,
looking for God,
only to find once again
that God is looking for me.
Before I can see,
I must let myself be seen.
Before I can love,
I must first be loved.
This wisdom is as old as the breeze
On which it’s borne
and as new as this moment
in which it meets me in the wilderness,
reviving my soul for the journey ahead.

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