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God said to Elijah, “Go to the mountain and I will meet you there.” God wants to talk to Elijah because Elijah is hiding from the queen who wants to kill God’s prophet. So Elijah hides in the desert. Of course, no one is going into a death zone to kill someone. So Elijah goes to the mountain as God wanted, and there is an earthquake; but God is not in the earthquake. Then there was a fire; and God was not in the fire. Then there was a _______. The Hebrew word is so archaic that no one can translate the word. However, there is good news. In the nineteenth century we deciphered an ancient language called Akkadian. It is a sister language to Hebrew and there was a word with the same spelling as the mystery Hebrew word. And the word was “powder.” That makes sense to me. The earthquake caused a fire and the fire produced ashes which were reduced to powder. As the ashes floated down, they create a very slight audible sound. You have to really stretch your ear to hear, but it can be heard. So God is in the aftermath, in the calm, not in the distracting noise. After Elijah talked to God, he was not afraid of the queen anymore, and he went back to work.
My father’s friend loved the deep woods of Maine. He enjoyed it so much that he brought his wife up on top of the mountain surrounded by forest. The wife said to him, “Why do you like this, there is nothing here. There are no malls, no theaters, no restaurants… nothing.” The husband said, “Listen.” The wife said, “I don’t hear anything.” “Listen again,” he quipped. “I still can’t hear anything.” The husband then said, “That’s why I love it here.”
That is why God led the Israelites into the desert. There is nothing there, no malls, no theaters, and no restaurants. All they have is God and his voice. Sometimes we get distracted in the middle of the disasters, and problems, and the struggles of life. We get discouraged and want to be like Elijah and hide. We never really hear God’s voice. But if we only talk to God like Elijah and we will want to get back to the work we were meant to do.
I was planting in the garden and a student from Berkeley School of Music came over and started to talk. He asked me what kind of music I liked. I told him I like it quiet. He said, “That’s a cool sound.” I like silence because you can accomplish a lot with it.
One time Jesus was coming down from the mountain with three of the disciples. They had just listened to God’s voice: “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him.” When they got to the bottom of the mountain a large crowd went to Jesus. Apparently, the other nine disciples who were left below were trying to cast out a demon and they could not. Jesus was upset with the disciples because of their failure. Then Jesus had a conversation with the boy’s father. Finally, Jesus expelled the demon from the boy. Later, the disciples asked Jesus why they were unable to cast out the demon. Jesus told them. This kind can be cast out only with prayer. Why prayer? Before the demon left the child, Jesus said to the demon, “Unclean spirit, who stops the boy from hearing and speaking, come out of him.” You see the demon prevented the boy from praying. He could not speak and he could not hear. Notice there are two dimensions to prayer. You speak and you listen.
There are a lot of obstacles that prevent us from praying. Like Elijah, we run into problems, difficulties, worries, and fears. We get discouraged or distracted from the work that God wants us to do. That is why we need to cast out the demons in our life that prevent us from talking and listening to God. Seek the quiet, meet God, and soon we like Elijah will be back to work.Back to All Homilies