Can You Say Who’s Calling?
The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by."
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was 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 came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" (1 Kings 19:11-13)
Do we know God well enough to recognize His voice? Or do we hear other voices and assume they are God?
This story about Elijah reminds me how easy it is to misidentify the speaker. To put the story in context, Elijah had just experienced a great victory, but for whatever reason his faith has failed. He is on the run and terrified. Verse nine says he spent the night in a cave and the “Word of the LORD came to him: ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’”
Ever found yourself in a stage of life when you didn’t know which direction to leap? You sense a call, but perhaps you fixate on that direction rather than recognizing His voice and knowing how to follow it.
Elijah knew who he was and what he was called to do, but he was scared. It was time to stop and listen to God. I like this story for the powerful signs that ended up not being God at all: the wind, the earthquake, and the fire. From any one of them Elijah could have inferred any number of signs regarding God’s direction. Each one demonstrated great power, but none was where God wanted to take Elijah.
The thing Elijah had going for him is that he knew God’s voice. Elijah waited out the wind, the earthquake, and the fire because he knew God was not in them.
Several years ago, I felt God telling me to minister to those who are churched but spiritually dead. My mistake after that was to interpret each little “sign” as God’s leading. I found myself in some noble situations that were nonetheless not of God. In essence, I chased the wind, rode the earthquake, and followed the fire. The first churched-but-spiritually dead person God ministered to was me. When I finally stopped and enriched my own relationship with God, I found He was bringing me ministry opportunities I would never have considered.
Learning to hear and know God’s voice keeps me on a day-by-day and indescribable journey. I am called, but there remains much to learn before I am most effective for Him. My responsibility in the meantime is to pour my energy into learning to recognize His voice and respond to His leading. If I do that, His call on my life will take care of itself.