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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As I sit home on this work cancelled snow day and wait for Logan to wake up God has given me extra quiet time to contemplate to mull over Psalm 2 -why do the nations rage? And as I sat at His feet and hear do not be afraid though this King or leader does this or this and rejects God all of it doesn’t matter that God has already deemed it and it will be as He says no matter what so I rejoice in that peace and confidence in my Father. Be blessed be safe.
I’m reminded of hearing this statement, not sure from whom exactly, on the text in Mark 6 about Jesus drawing the disciples to a quiet place. ” If we don’t come apart and rest awhile, we may just come apart.” In this fast paced society with all its hustle and bustle, it is essential we recharge our batteries by receiving something fresh and invigorating from the Lord. I love these verses in Matt. 11: 28-30, ” Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
I agree that God’s voice is lost in the roar of the crowd. God doesn’t force Himself upon us, we must seek Him out. He pursues us, but we must also pursue or seek Him. I was reading in Exodus this morning and came across this verse from Exodus 19:4-5 where God is reminding the Israelites the wondrous miracles He performed in Egypt and how He bore them out on eagles’ wings. If we but obey Him, we will be His treasured possession. How much more abundant can our life be than as a treasured possession of God and all He asks of us is a little time with Him in quietness where He can wrap His arms around us and teach us all we desire.
I have read these verses sooo many times, and in fact, they were referenced at Scott and my wedding thirty-odd years ago. Yet, until Sunday’s message and this blog, I have never seen them in such a clear and contemporary light. Thank you, Pastor G., for putting a very relevant and important spin on them with your “noise, activity, urgencies and quiet” take on things. It offers so much application and will inform me and re-challenge me with all future readings of them.
I love that first question. Intimate communion, emotional healing, clear direction, loving correction and calming serenity happen only in the desert. We release every thought, care, worry, hope, goal, and dream into His mighty hands. When we come away from that quiet place, we are CHANGED,not because of who we are but whose we are.
First of all why would we spend time with a being whom we do not believe will change us? To go to a quiet still place means that we set our priorities so high that we are honoring God by saying “you are worth my time!” I believe abundant life means to have our shackles cut off, to lay down that which hinders us and to run the race that is set before us! Hebrews 12:1,2- Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.