This past Sunday I was sharing with my congregation the story of Elijah in 1st Kings. Many of you know the story. He’d stood up for God, he’d stood up to the king, and he was on the run. He went to Mt. Horeb, and he waited. And then in chapter 19, verses 11-13, it says
“(The voice of the Lord) said, “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; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. 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?”
I think that question is so important to all of us. “What are you doing here?” Even though that passage was written 2600 years ago, the question rings down to each and every one of us. And sometimes we think the answer is the great wind, or the earthquakes of our lives, but as often as not, we’re called to pay attention not just to the things that split mountains, but to the still small voice, as the King James Version translated it.
This summer our congregation is asking the question of what north stars are we following? We’re asking each other how we know when we’re pointed in the right way. And many people have told me they’re not really sure. And many of them are imagining it might be some giant spotlight they’re missing. But what I’ve told them is that it’s just as important to make time to listen for the still small voice, the one that asks “What are you doing here?” And then to pay attention to the answers.
Sometimes we have to get out of our cave, and listen for the answers that matter most.
Rev. Eric Banner, Jefferson Unitarian Church; Jefferson County Faith Leaders Table