WHEN GOD SPEAKS
by David Sisler
CBS News correspondent Charles Kuralt was “On the Road” for more than 20 years. His stories gave audiences a look at some very special people. One of those was Father Ron.
Father Ron lived in a one room cabin on a glacier on Mount McKinley. The Catholic priest had journeyed to a place of ultimate solitude for a retreat.
When the afternoon sun made the snow mushy and thus limited the amount of weight his plane could carry off of Ruth Glacier, Kuralt and his cameraman agreed to stay behind until morning.
Father Ron met them, carrying a staff, and looking very much like a Biblical prophet. He helped them carry their belongings into the cabin and then announced, “The menu tonight is stew.” He paused and added, “That is the menu every night.”
Over tin bowls of stew Charles Kuralt commented on the benefits of the priest’s retreat. “Yes,” Father Ron replied, “it offers communion with God. But about this time of day, you need human communion. God listens well, but he doesn’t talk much.”
The author of Psalm 46 is not named. We assume it was David. Regardless of who penned the words, it echoes a man who spoke from personal experience.
“God is our refuge and strength,” he wrote, “a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.”
The Psalm continues on with heathen raging, kingdoms moving, and earth melting. The writer sees God breaking bows, cutting spears and burning chariots. Reading his words is like sitting in the percussion section of an orchestra, right in front of cymbals and the bass drum.
Then without warning the psalm is as quiet as an Alaskan glacier. “Be still,” the song whispers, “and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”
And with great relief the psalmist adds, “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”
“God listens well,” Father Ron said, “but he doesn’t talk much.”
Is there anything more difficult than sitting silently, and listening for the voice of God?
Elijah was God’s man, nine centuries before Jesus was born. In one of the most dramatic scenes in the Bible, Elijah called a wicked king and his 850 heathen prophets to a showdown. In spectacular fashion God answered with fire and the false religion was overthrown. Yet the next day Elijah became afraid and fled for his life.
Elijah hid in a cave in complete solitude. Then a powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks, but the Bible says, “The Lord was not in the wind.” Next came an earthquake, but God was not in the earthquake. Then a raging firestorm swept the mountain, but God was not in the fire. Finally, there was a still small voice, a gentle whisper, and it was the Lord.
We are not comfortable being quiet. That is why when a worship leader calls for silent prayer it never lasts for more than a few seconds. Father Ron is right – God listens well, but he doesn’t talk much. There is no point then, in asking the Lord to do something for us, if we are not willing to listen quietly for his answer.
Paul told the Ephesian Christians, “Pray at all times, in the Spirit.” We must keep in touch with the One who can help us. Even if we become frightened and discouraged and completely faithless, we must speak to him and listen for his voice.
God says, “Be still and know that I am God.” If you don’t hear anything, keep listening.
Copyright 2003 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.
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