Have you ever heard that God speaks in a “still, small voice”?
I’ve heard that description in the past, but I never really thought too deeply in what that means. But as a quick background, you have the story of Elijah. You’ve heard the story of his showdown between the servants of Baal and him, and God was glorified in this battle. Anyways, he witnesses the power of God, but later becomes discouraged and complains to God. God sends a great wind, an earthquake, and a fire to pass by Elijah, but God was not in them. Rather, He speaks to Elijah in a still, small voice (1 Kings 19:11,12).
We are raised in a consumer culture. We expect if we are putting our time and effort into something, there needs to be a return. And a lot of times, I think this influences our prayer lives. We expect that if we are putting the time in prayer, big things are coming for us. We want God to answer our prayers in a mighty way so that we can tell others of the wonderful things God is working though us. Maybe this reveals my own selfish nature here in the mission field. We are praying to God, expecting our prayers and time in Haiti will result in extraordinary stories we can tell others. But maybe instead of a great wind, an earthquake, and a fire, the results of our efforts are just a still, small voice in this world.
Last week, our kitchen stove decided to no longer work. Since we are cooking our own meals, it is rather important to have a working stove; although we do use our rice cooker quite often. There are no other cooking appliances in our little home. No microwave, no toaster, no toaster oven, no slow cooker, no griddle, no panini maker. I tried the best I could to see if there was any way I could fix the stove. No such luck. Anyways, Shari and I prayed about the stove, hoping it would be a miracle fix. We even reasoned with God that we needed the stove to cook for other people.
Also last week, we found out some friends sent a care package to us. We were excited to receive something in the mail, and upon retrieving the package at the FedEx store, we found out we had to pay an extraordinary amount of money to pick up the package. The reps at the store claimed they were charging us the government-issued duties and taxes; it was non-negotiable. They would not budge with any of our reasoning. We took this up to the Lord in prayer as well. We figured there might be some miraculous response where we would no longer have to pay for anything.
We were praying for miracles in a big way. How could God not answer in a great wind, an earthquake, or a fire for His missionaries?
God definitely answered, but He answers in His own way (Isaiah 55:8). In retrospect, we realize He answered in a still, small, subtle way. But nevertheless, it was still an answer in a big way.
We didn’t have a stove to cook with, but we were given donated kitchen appliances – 6-qt slow cooker, 3-cup rice cooker, a toaster oven that can cook a small frozen pizza, an electric stove top, and a toaster – that answered our prayers for a means to cook food. We had to pay an extraordinary amount of money to pay duties and taxes for our package, and someone just so happened to give us a monetary gift that would cover the fees and then some. We realize that these answers may not have been the mighty miracles we were praying for, but they were definitely answers to prayer that more than covers our needs.
We were taught a lesson. We need to pray to be able to recognize the still, small ways that God answers our prayers.
He is always listening and answering us. But are we recognizing it?