Recently, while sitting on a porch with a calming stream babbling by in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, I was suddenly filled with anxiety and fear. It was early in the morning and no one else was up. The air was clean and cold, but the stillness of the moment did not translate to my heart.
The reason for this anxiety and fear was not clear. It seemed to creep up on me out of nowhere. My heart was in a battle of faith, a battle to believe God is bigger than my fears and my anxiety. The passage of Scripture I was reading in that moment was Psalm 29.
This Psalm calls us to worship the Lord, to ascribe glory to his name because he is on the throne. As I was sitting on this porch in the cool of the morning, watching this stream rush by below me, I read verses 3 and 4: “The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over many waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.”
The Lord is on the throne. He is Lord over these waters and he is Lord over my heart. He is Lord over this fear and anxiety, which seems to dominate so much of my life. My heart needs to hear the voice of the Lord, the voice of this majestic and glorious King. His voice calms these fears and holds back this anxiety.
What Elijah heard
As I was thinking about the Lord, as I was ascribing glory to His name and longing to hear His voice, my mind turned to the prophet Elijah and his struggle with fear and anxiety in 1 Kings 19:9–18.
Elijah has defeated the prophets of Baal, and now he is fleeing from the wrath of Queen Jezebel. We see him struggle with fear and anxiety, with exhaustion and depression. He feels alone and abandoned, and he is searching for God and the voice of God.
He comes to a cave and lodges in it when the word of the Lord comes to him, calling him to come and stand in God’s presence. Elijah comes out to hear God, to be in the presence of God, to stand before the Lord.
A great and strong wind tears by breaking the mountain in pieces, but the Lord is not in the wind. After the wind, an earthquake shakes the mountain, but the Lord is not in the earthquake. After the earthquake comes a fire burning down the side of this mountain, but the Lord is not in the fire.
Finally, after the wind, after the earthquake, after the fire, there comes the sound of a low whisper, and there is the voice and presence of God.
Elijah gives his list of grievances. He tells the Lord what is causing him so much fear and anxiety, and God reassures Elijah he is not alone. God has seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal, and God will call others through Elijah to help these people persevere. God speaks to Elijah in the low whisper, in a still small voice.
The low whisper of God
On that porch in the early morning, I thought I needed the wind, the earthquake, the fire to calm my fearful heart. The truth is, many times the powerful voice of the Lord does not come in a shout; it comes in a whisper.
The calming voice and presence of the Lord is not found in the noise; it is found in the quiet. The Lord speaks to us in a low whisper, and the tragedy is, much of the time we cannot hear his voice because our ears are full with the clanging of the world around us and the fear within us.
We hear the voice of the Lord when we are quiet. Step away from the wind, earthquakes, and fires of this world and prepare yourself for the low whisper your heart needs.
Fear and anxiety can be overwhelming, and they are multiplied by the busyness and noise of our world. Our hearts weren’t made to be plugged in and only busy. We were also made to rest in the presence of God.
Quiet your heart and open your ears to hear the still small voice of God. You may be in the middle of the wind, earthquake or fire, but the low whisper is coming.
Don’t miss it.
Zac Harrel is pastor of First Baptist Church in Gustine, Texas.