1 Kings 19:9,11-13
When Elijah reached Horeb, the mountain of the Lord, he went into the cave and spent the night in it. Then he was told, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord.’ Then the Lord himself went by. There came a mighty wind, so strong it tore the mountains and shattered the rocks before the Lord. But the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind came 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 there came the sound of a gentle breeze. And when Elijah heard this, he covered his face with his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
What I want to say now is no pretence; I say it in union with Christ – it is the truth – my conscience in union with the Holy Spirit assures me of it too. What I want to say is this: my sorrow is so great, my mental anguish so endless, I would willingly be condemned and be cut off from Christ if it could help my brothers of Israel, my own flesh and blood. They were adopted as sons, they were given the glory and the covenants; the Law and the ritual were drawn up for them, and the promises were made to them. They are descended from the patriarchs and from their flesh and blood came Christ who is above all, God for ever blessed! Amen.
Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he would send the crowds away. After sending the crowds away he went up into the hills by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, while the boat, by now far out on the lake, was battling with a heavy sea, for there was a head-wind. In the fourth watch of the night he went towards them, walking on the lake, and when the disciples saw him walking on the lake they were terrified. ‘It is a ghost’ they said, and cried out in fear. But at once Jesus called out to them, saying, ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’ It was Peter who answered. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘if it is you, tell me to come to you across the water.’ ‘Come’ said Jesus. Then Peter got out of the boat and started walking towards Jesus across the water, but as soon as he felt the force of the wind, he took fright and began to sink. ‘Lord! Save me!’ he cried. Jesus put out his hand at once and held him. ‘Man of little faith,’ he said ‘why did you doubt?’ And as they got into the boat the wind dropped. The men in the boat bowed down before him and said, ‘Truly, you are the Son of God.’
‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’
Our God is all-powerful and Lord over all Creation. This is an aspect of our faith that most of us are undoubtedly aware of. But how often do we consciously consider how small and meek and softly God chooses to come to us, and tune our hearts in to this humbling mystery? I, for one, conveniently forget this – unless I somehow find myself in a poetic and nature-filled setting.
In other words, when I am caught up in the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day chaos (work, peak-hour traffic, bothersome interactions), my core of trust and peace is disrupted. I am less disposed to listening, feeling, or seeing the abundance of God-moments around me with eyes of humility and wonder.
Elijah’s experiences on Mount Horeb reveal his trust and sensitivity to God’s presence. He was given the command ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord’ – and experienced the terror of nature’s wind, earthquake, and fire. But we are told the Lord was in neither of these occurrences. Instead, he sensed that the sound of the gentle breeze heralded the presence of God, and with this assurance, he stepped out to the entrance of the cave to ‘meet’ God there.
“God is both further from us, and nearer to us, than any other human being.” – Henri Nouwen. This quote comes to my mind and gives me pause.
When the storms and disturbances of life come – am I more inclined to fear that I have somehow lost God’s favour or protection? To worry that this time, I am going to be ‘going at it on my own’, and I had better gird myself with worldly wiles and strategies in order to survive or get ahead? It is only natural that I am tempted to take on this attitude, if I believe I have much to lose, and if I lose sight of the reality that all I have has in fact been a gift from God – my skills, talents, intellect, status, wealth, and even repute. The ego has a way of speaking lies and threats to our insecurities.
I have realized this counstant struggle occurs throughout my growth as a person who desires to increase in spiritual maturity. The ‘elements of life’ that come my way have challenged me immensely to hold fast to the Lord and trust that He is more likely found in the smallest details of my life, than I would choose to stay still enough to notice.
Rather than complain that I have to tussle another minute or hour with a difficult family member; rather than lament that the difficulties I face have outlasted another 24 hours; rather than wonder “why me” or “why this road”; rather than flounder like Peter in the midst of the lake even as I walk towards Jesus – is it possible that I give thanks for the buoyancy of this mysterious water that supports me beyond my reason? Is it possible that I give praise to God for the mere fact that I am given the supernatural patience to outlast my problems or difficult interactions?
My greatest comfort is in knowing that Jesus never tires of me crying out to him for the umpteenth time ‘Lord! Save me!’ His mercy and faithfulness never ceases, and His goodness surrounds me no matter how impatient and desensitised I may grow. May we never tire of crying or calling to our Lord who will always save us and uphold us.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie Loo)
Prayer: Jesus, help me to remember that you are ever near me. I pray for the gift of stillness to sense you in all the storms or winds in my life.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for the inconveniences and challenges that humble me and make me ever aware that I am in need of growing greater in generosity.