“Can you hear me now?” Do you remember the Verizon commercials? If you have seen one of their commercials it showcases how wonderful Verizon’s reception is. No matter where this guy went he had perfect reception. In our spiritual journey that’s not always the case. We serve a God who desires to speak to us, but there are times we drown out the voice of God. We somehow find ourselves frustrated at God’s distance or angry with His apparent inability to connect, but the truth is we get stuck because our hearing becomes impaired. It can be the ever-increasing demands in our workplace and home or the constant noise we fill our life with out of fear of what we will find in the still silence. Either way, our inability to hear God is not because we serve a mute God. The first question God asked Elijah was, “What are you doing here?” but the first action God asked Elijah to take was to “go out.” We cannot hear God’s voice clearly or experience His presence personally until we step out of the insulation of our cave.
Think of a situation that was either extremely loud or extremely quiet–a rock concert, a thunderstorm, the middle of a dessert, or the bottom of a cave. Where were you and how would you describe that sound?
Read 1 Kings 19:10-13, James 4:8, Psalm 46:10
Can you imagine what that must have been like for Elijah? He was in a cave of despair and all of a sudden the mountains tore apart by a mighty wind and rocks were shattering all around him. Then the ground started shaking uncontrollably and he was probably bracing himself for balance. As if that wasn’t enough, fire came with a mighty force.
Why the wind, earthquake, and fire? Why the divine theatrics? This dramatic display of power and supernatural fireworks was aimed at moving Elijah from the belly of the cave out to the entrance. This was God’s way of repositioning Elijah for an encounter with His presence.
Sometimes in the darkness of our cave we need to be awakened by the dramatic sound of God before we can position ourselves for His presence. Scripture highlights the fact that God’s presence was not in the earthquake, whirlwind, or fire. Often it is the extraordinary interruptions and dramatic wake-up calls that make us listen attentively.
What did Elijah pull over his face? Does this remind you of another time in Scripture where a person or people hid when they heard His voice? How do you approach God when he speaks to you? Is it in reverence, fear, joy, or with confidence?
Maybe it wasn’t an earthquake or a fire like Elijah experienced, maybe it was, but have you experienced God repositioning you to hear him better? What was that experience like?
When was the last time you heard God speak to you? Are there things blocking your spiritual hearing?
After the natural phenomena, the Lord was present to Elijah in a gentle whisper. In the midst of Elijah’s pain God spoke to him softly. God wants to speak to you in your pain. He wants you to hear the hope he has for you. His healing word can begin to restore you into your calling.
Purpose: To give us an idea of how hard it can be to listen to a voice when there is chaos around us. Designate someone in the group to be a “listener.” This person will have to be blindfolded and listen to directions from the group leader to get from one side of the room to the other. The rest of the group will try to distract the “listener” from hearing the directions by talking very loudly about their day or singing “Happy Birthday” in a very loud tone. If the group isn’t comfortable or able to move, you can select a listener from the group and have the rest of the group discuss very loudly the events of their day while the group leader whispers an encouraging word to the listener.
Listening to one voice in the midst of a lot of white noise can be extremely difficult. Chaos and confusion will overwhelm us unless we learn how to silence the voices and hear only His whisper.
Read Hebrews 10:19-23, Ephesians 3:12, Ephesians 4:20-27
Paul reminds us in Ephesians 3 that in Christ we can approach God with freedom and confidence, but Paul also reminds us that we can give the devil a foothold in our lives that can breed anger and fear. Anger and fear are irrational emotional cousins that override our logical thinking and, if given the chance, will sabotage our faith as well.
What comfort does Hebrews 10:19-23 give you?
According to Ephesians 4:20-27, what are some actions we need to take since we are walking with Christ?
What are some examples of fear-based or anger-filled messages that can hinder us from hearing God?
We cannot manufacture an encounter with God. We can, however, position ourselves for one. As long as we stay in the depths of the cave and listen to our fear or anger-filled mental recording, God’s presence will simply pass us by. We need to turn down the white noise and turn up the God volume.
With which statement do you find yourself agreeing most:
I have a hard time hearing the voice of God and I cannot pinpoint the areas in my life that are hindering his voice.
I have heard the voice of God but I have allowed fear and anger to keep me from enjoying it now.
I enjoy hearing the voice of God and treasure the daily conversation that we have.
Pray for one another as you consider what may be blocking your spiritual ears from hearing God.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.