Sojourns in Solitude: The Sound of a Gentle Blowing
by Pastor Gene
Jesus often retreated to a quiet place alone to talk with His Father. As His disciples, we need to do the same. The desert is the best place to evaluate our walk with Him – and to consider our wins and losses. It’s a place for reflection.
When the disciples returned from their brief missionary journey, they “gathered together with Jesus and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught.” And what was the first thing Jesus said to them? He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place [literally, a desert place] and rest a while.” Mark tells us that they were so busy that they didn’t even have time to eat! So, “they went away in the boat to a lonely place [a desert place] by themselves” (Mark 6:30-32, brackets mine).
I think the believer’s quiet time with God should be framed by Scripture. But while this discipline involves reading, it’s also about listening for the voice of the Holy Spirit.
Do you remember the story in 1 Kings 19:9-12 where Elijah cries out to God, “I alone am left”? He was feeling forsaken. So, the Lord told him, “Go forth, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.”
“And behold, the Lord was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks 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 a gentle blowing. And it came about when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Now, notice it with me …
The “great and strong wind” that “was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks” sounds like A LOT OF NOISE, right? But “the Lord was not in the wind.”
And “the earthquake” sounds like A LOT OF ACTIVITY – like a LOT OF STUFF GOING ON, right? But “the Lord was not in the earthquake.”
And after the earthquake was “a fire” and that sounds like any one of a thousand URGENCIES that believers have to continually deal with, no? But “the Lord was not in the fire.”
So, where was He? He was in the quiet.
The truth is, God’s still, small voice is almost always lost in the roar of the crowd. He makes his presence known gently, delicately. I won’t hear Him above the din of the radio, or in the noisy shopping center. He won’t compete with the blue light of the television or any generated white noise.
Don’t get me wrong, all of those things have their place and can even be inspiring, encouraging. But to hear the voice of God’s gentle blowing, I have to get quiet.
I like that on the true Christmas God’s angels went not to the business of Bethlehem, but to isolated shepherds who had time to listen.
An in our desert time, we read God’s Word and we linger with it a while. We meditate upon it. To linger is to remain in a place longer than usual, it’s to be reluctant to leave.
So, we think. Reflect. Meditate. Linger.
We’re not trying to analyze the passage as a theologian would, but to enter into the heart of the passage as a disciple. We’re asking, ‘Father, how do you want to change me through what I’ve just read?’
The goal is becoming the man or woman that God wants us to be – to place ourselves on the anvil and say, ‘Mold me, Father!’
In John 6:63b, Jesus said: “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” And while Jesus was talking about the eternal life that comes to us by faith alone in Christ alone, Jesus’ Words continue to pour eternal life into His followers each and every day.
When we approach God’s Word like this – meditating, asking God to change us through it – we’re actually treating it as “spirit and life.” It is the LIVING Word of God – the only words that truly bring real life and transformation.
Our Lord said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10b). “Abundantly” means completely, to the full! One translation renders it, “I have come that they may have life, and have it in all its fullness.”
But experiencing the fullness of this “life” that Jesus is talking about is only a potential reality (the Greek for “have it” is a present active subjunctive – a potential, ‘maybe they’ll have it, maybe they won’t!’).
I believe that we find this abundant, life-to-the-full in the quiet places – reading, meditating, praying, contemplating, confessing, talking and, most importantly, listening to the gentle blowing of God’s voice.
To consider …
- Why do you think it was important for Jesus to say to His disciples, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place”?
What happens in the desert that doesn’t happen anywhere else?
- What does the idea of God’s voice being like “the sound of a gentle blowing” say to you?
Have you heard this voice?
- I suggested that when we approach God’s Word meditating, asking God to change us through it, we’re actually treating it as “spirit and life.”
Is this true? Why or why not?
- Do you agree that God’s still, small voice is almost always lost in the roar of the crowd?
That He makes His presence known gently, delicately?
- What do you think Jesus was promising us when He said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10b).
How do you think you might lay hold of this life-to-the-full?
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