We are living in a time with a lot of noise and distraction. Since January of this year, the news has been filled with chaotic information from the impeachment hearings of the U.S. president to the increase of positive cases of COVID-19 and now to cities that are filled with signs of revolution and rebellion as people are standing up against police brutality and systemic racism. It’s difficult to know what information is true because all news outlets are biased in their own political leanings. And if you are scrolling through any social media these days, you will more than likely find people you follow spouting out information that may be true or false. Facebook is filled with clickbait and memes, yelling out against the far right and the far left. And much of the information is filled with emotions of distrust, anger, frustration, fear, and self-righteousness.
In my own personal life, my days have been filled with chaos all its own. I attempt each day to do something meaningful, whether that be writing something of worth, reading something inspirational, supporting my husband’s ministry to our church community, or walking alongside of my adult son as he tries to learn to be independent. I try to reach out to my family members who are scattered throughout the United States, struggling with their own feelings about the pandemic and now the riots and looting happening in their hometowns. And in the midst of the world’s chaos, as a family we have a chaos of our own as my step-dad needed triple bypass surgery almost a month ago and has experienced complications in his recovery for the last few weeks. My chaos includes deciding when the best time will be to travel across the country to be with my mom as she navigates these new waters with my step-dad as he heals. Questions surround me about my safety in traveling because of the pandemic, the demonstrations, and my son’s lack of independence. The waters of chaos are surrounding me as I’m sure they are surrounding many of you today.
In the midst of the waters of chaos, we are called to be still.
In 1 Kings 19, Elijah is living in a world of chaos. He has just been threatened by Ahab and Jezebel who are bent on revenge. He is hiding, afraid that he will be slaughtered by a vicious king and an evil queen. He cries out to God, “‘I have had enough, Lord […] Take my life'” (1 Kings 19:4 NIV). I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you have made this same cry to God: Lord, I can’t handle anymore. Lord, come back today. Take my life.
In the middle of Elijah’s cry, God hears and sends an angel to minister to Elijah. Elijah eats and rests. Then, he travels for forty days and forty nights, eventually reaching the mountain of God (1 Kings 19:6-9). He is tired, he is beaten down, he is afraid, he is drowning in the waters of chaos.
Then God asks Elijah what he wants. God asks Elijah why he is there. Elijah proclaims: “‘I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too'” (1 Kings 19:10 NIV). Have you felt that way lately? Have you felt alone? Have you felt like you are the only one who is righteous? Have you felt afraid for your life?
In the midst of the waters of chaos, we are called to be still. We are called to listen.
Sometimes we imagine that God will yell from the heavens, “Stop it!” In fact, yesterday, I saw several cartoons and memes that suggested that God is trying to get our attention in all of our chaos through shouting at us. However, God does not shout at us. He whispers into the chaos so that we will be still. So that we will listen.
In 1 Kings 19, we are reminded that God does not shout. God does not return disorder with disorder. God speaks in the whisper.
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.1 Kings 19:11-13 NIV
God speaks in the whisper so that we will be still. So that we will be silent. So that we will listen.
We are reminded throughout scripture that God creates order out of disorder. At the beginning, “the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Genesis 1:2 NIV). It is into the chaos that God spoke creation into being, establishing order.
When God saw “how great the wickedness of the human race had become on earth,” he reset creation, allowing the waters of chaos to overwhelm the earth so that once again He could create order (Genesis 6:5 NIV).
And when the time was right, he sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to whisper into the waters of chaos. Christ, the Prince of Peace. Christ, who did not fight back. Christ who “committed no sin,” who “did not retaliate,” who “made no threats” (1 Peter 2:22-23 NIV).
In the midst of the waters of chaos, we are called to be still. We are called to listen. We are called to be like Jesus.
I do not believe that Christians should do nothing. I do not believe that Christians should allow chaos to continue through unjust laws, through oppression, through subjugation, through injustice. I believe that God calls us to action.
However, I also believe that before we act, we need to be still, we need to listen, and we need to be like Jesus.
God has called you out of the chaos through a whisper. Listen to His whisper today. Be still as you listen. Then, act out of the power of the Holy Spirit through the work of Jesus Christ in your life “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8 NIV).