I love the story of the Prophet Elijah – well, I guess ‘love’ can be a bit misleading. It definitely isn’t a happy-go-lucky kind of story but more of a document-drama that’s hard to watch but nevertheless has much to offer us all these many years later. I really appreciate what we can learn from his story. Anyway, here’s the summary: Elijah is fleeing for his life and God’s messenger comes to him and offers him a meal and tells him to take a nap and when Elijah wakes up he eats some more and sleeps some more. And he has this raw, authentic, honest, vulnerable conversation with God in which he tells God, “I’ve done all that you asked, I’ve told the people about you and told them to change their ways and now they want to kill me. I’m done.” And God has Elijah witness a great wind and an earthquake and a fire, all without hearing God’s voice. And in the silence when all the chaos stops, Elijah hears God again. (See 1 Kings 19.)
Our world appears to be chaos. We seem to have forgotten that God is the one who brings order to chaos, not chaos from order. Whichever issue you want to talk about – abortion, guns, immigration, prayer in schools – and whichever side you are on, we are all feeling a bit like Elijah because no one is listening and we feel as if “they” want to take our life or at least take away what we consider an important or even key framing of our life.
Why do we listen to the loudest voices? And the better question – Why do we think that we can prove ourselves to be right if we yell loud enough or get in peoples faces or call ‘the other side’ names and mock them? Do we really think that the solution is either in our own yelling or in listening to the yelling of those who think just like us? Would we really rather be in the wind, or earthquake, or fire?
What if we took a cue from Elijah and stepped back, retreated for a time, had a snack, took a nap, voiced what we are feeling in a raw, authentic, honest, and vulnerable conversation with God, and listened in the calm and quiet to what God has to say? What would we hear?
Can we hear this: Each and every human being on this earth, who ever was, is, and will be, is created in the image of God who is Love. We are all, each and every one of us, created to be in relationship with each other. Being in relationship doesn’t mean we have to agree at all times. Being in relationship means we seek the best for the greater good even if that means we have to let go of what we want individually. We are all, yep even that person, created to be in relationship with God. This is God’s deepest desire for all of us. And when we let our relationship with God shape and form who we are, our relationship with each other will be strengthened.
In the stillness of retreat, tell God your anger and fear and frustration. Pray for eyes to see all people as the Image of God. Pray for ears to hear the Voice of Love. Pray for wisdom to reveal God’s Love in our behavior. Have a snack. Take a nap. Let God bring order to the chaos.
After Elijah’s retreat, God sends him back down the mountain and Elijah finds a companion to help him keep on with God’s work. We are not alone. We are not created to do this thing called life individually. We are created to be in relationship. When we let God clear our sight and silence the noise of the chaos ringing in our ears, we hear the still, small voice saying, “you are loved; go and love likewise.” And we are to go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
Peace be with you, my friends.