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God Is Found When the Dust Settles
I recently joined a running club. We meet once a week at the track. The first thing the coach says is, “You are going to hate me tonight.” He then gives us his instructions. After that, we form groups and run around the track in a single file. The first person is called the pacer. He follows the instructions of the coach and leads the group around the track. My job is to follow the person in front of me.
In the Old Testament, God is depicted as a coach Who gives instructions to Israel. The person that leads the nation is the king. Suppose the King did not listen to God and instead of leading them on course, he leads Israel to the nearest beer garden. There is God watching His people wander away from Him and His path. For God, this is an easy fix. He just has to replace the pacer, the leader. That is exactly what is happening in the Book of Kings. God replaces the king with a prophet to lead the people. His name is Elisha. Before he can lead, he needs to get instructions from God. So God tells the prophet to meet him at Mount Horeb. When Elisha arrives at the mountain, he waits for God to appear. There is a windstorm, but God is not in the windstorm. There is an earthquake, but God is not in the earthquake. There is a fire and God is not in the fire. God finally appears in the ________. We have no idea how to translate this important word. There have been some educated guesses such as God is in the silence or in the whisper. So what is the mysterious word? Let’s find out.
Hebrew is a Semitic language and has a number of sister languages. All these languages have something in common. Each word contains three consonants. So all we have to do is to take the three consonants of the mystery word and match them with another sister language. There is a match. The word is “powder.” God is in the powder. At first, it does not make any sense but if you follow the sequence of events it becomes clear. There is a windstorm that shakes the trees and moves the roots, so we have an earthquake. Fires typically break out after earthquakes. Fire creates ashes or powder that falls to the ground. That means that God is not found in the disasters but in the aftermath.
We all experience drama and difficulties in life. It is hard to see God in disasters. Yet, if we wait, we will hear the voice of God.
I was accepted to a doctorate program. I worked very hard for over five years. I took the GRE exam, enrolled in Ph.D. courses, and passed my language requirements and comprehensive exams. I only needed to finish my dissertation. After my second chapter, my director called me into his office and told me that the research was not going in the right direction and he dismissed me from the program. When I left the office a storm of emotions overwhelmed me. I was disappointed, sad, confused, embarrassed, and ashamed. It was not until I got over the emotions that I was able to hear God’s voice. And this is what I heard. “You studied under the best professors in your field, you read the best articles and books, you acquired a sharp, critical eye. You have all the knowledge you need to accomplish the work I want you to do.”
Today I teach the New Testament in two major seminaries. This is a dream come true for any doctoral student.
In life, there are storms and disappointments and we do not see God. Just be patient. Wait for the storms to pass because God is often found in the aftermath.Back to All Homilies