Here, at my crossroads moment, I hear the voice of silence bid me to linger.
“Voice of silence.” That’s how Elijah described his crossroads moment in the Negev wilderness of Israel (cf. 1 Kings 19:12).
Yeah, I know. Your version probably says something like, “the sound of a low whisper” (ESV), “a gentle whisper” (NIV), “a still small voice” (NKJV), or somthing like that.
The literal Hebrew expression reads, “a voice of small silence” or “a voice of thin stillness.” It’s meant to be paradoxical, a seemingly self-contradictory, absurd description. In other words, Elijah perceived God’s presence supernaturally.
Elijah’s crossroads moment occurred after a significant personal failure.
For many years he had steadfastly opposed the despotic, idol-worshiping rule of Ahab and Jezebel, boldly speaking truth to power. His long campaign then climaxed with a triumphant showdown with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18:20–46).
After this dramatic victory, the prophet’s confidence should have reached an all-time high. His years of ministry had been validated by God’s omnipotence and he stood on the threshold of victory. Yet when Jezebel threatened to kill him, his courage wilted and he ran.
As his personal failure sank in, he prayed, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers” (1 Kings 19:4).
After God gave His servant food to replenish his body and sleep to restore his mind, He called Elijah to enter a season of solitude. Forty days of quiet reflection in a very special place (1 Kings 19:5–8).
When the time was right, in the midst of his crossroads moment, Elijah perceived God’s silent voice and received the affirmation and direction he needed so desperately.
My natural response to moments like this is not to remain where I am. Ordinarily, I would take action, get busy doing something positive, seek constructive change.
But this time is different. There’s nowhere to go. Nothing different I should be doing. My triumphs and failures have led me to an empty cave, where life has left me famished, and I hunger to hear from God.
While I am still, I am not idle. I have work accomplish–worthy work. I have people who need me to be present when I am with them. Waiting to hear from God isn’t a time for passivity.
There are things we can do to prepare for perceiving God’s silent voice. And I am doing them.