Friday, July 9, 2010

A Still Small Voice

A Still Small Voice in Every Day Life
Fr. Dale Matson
“And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.” (1 Kings 19:11-12 KJV).
In this passage the Prophet Elijah comes to understand that God can be found in the “still small voice” (“gentle whisper” NIV). Certainly God communicates with us through Holy Scripture. He also communicates through His Sacraments, circumstances and through a word from our Christian brothers and sisters. In all these ways God leads us in our daily life. I once had a student who said about herself in all humility, “I have always been blessed to hear the voice of Jesus.” I understood her perfectly for I have also.
This voice is not the auditory persecutions experienced by psychotics. This voice is instructive, it is a Teaching voice. It is not the condemning conscience energized by the law written on our hearts. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1). The voice is Comforting. The voice is not one of self criticism. The voice is a Counselor. The voice is not any louder than our own thoughts as God the Holy Spirit speaks to us.
Let me illustrate with three personal examples. I used to be in construction and had just completed a final grading of a new home site. As I talked with the owner who was smoking a cigarette, I was thinking some rather judgmental and critical thoughts. A question arose in my thoughts, “What makes you better than him?” I immediately repented in my mind, which was accompanied by uncustomary compassion.
I was recently visiting with a friend over lunch. We talked for a quite a time and when I was done with what I had to say, I was preparing in my mind to move on. “Wait, he’s not done yet. Stay awhile longer.” The friend didn’t take much longer and thanked me for listening.
At times this past week I thought about a former student that I have not seen since my retirement. I had heard she divorced her husband after a long estrangement about eight years ago and I remember her as being fragile emotionally. As I was plodding along on my Saturday long run today (I still call it running), I approached a couple heading toward me. She said, “Dale, is that you?” It was the former student who beamed as she introduced me to her husband. God was growing a compassion for her in my heart prior to our seeing one another again. She asked what I’ve been doing since my retirement. I said that I was ordained an Anglican Priest. It was a wonderful exchange and I reflexively blessed both of them.
He is the voice of the teacher, the counselor and the comforter neatly woven into our thoughts yet we are able to distinguish His voice from our own thoughts. With Elijah, God was not in the wind, earthquake and fire. Monks and Mystics seek silence and solitude to hear the voice of God yet ordinary Christians are blessed to hear God every day.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:14 KJV).

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